As the NFL season continues to draw closer, the age of the running back appears to be coming back. Over the last few years, the league has slowly seen offenses relying more and more on the ground game. In the eight to 10 years before that, the league had become a quarterback powered league where teams did not need to have a star running back.
Last season, there were teams who saw their running backs power their entire offense. That will be the case again in 2018, although there are a few more teams that added running backs that should be a focal point of their offense.
For example, the New York Giants decided to pass on a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Saquon Barkley. Barkley is expected to be an immediate star and will likely develop into one of the top backs in the league in the near future.
While the running back is becoming more important again, there are a few players who have set themselves apart from the rest of the pack. There are a few running backs who can power their team to the playoffs even without a lethal passing attack.
All of that being said, which five running backs are the best in the NFL heading into the 2018 season?
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Is it too early to put Alvin Kamara in the top five from a running back perspective? Absolutely not, in fact, he actually deserves it more than anyone else in the league. Kamara shocked the league as a rookie in 2017 and heading into 2018 is expected to take an even bigger role and will show even more improvement.
4. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
One of the most underrated running backs in the NFL is LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills. He has been underrated since joining the Bills, and his numbers seem to be unnoticed. McCoy finished the 2017 season with 1,138 yards on the ground to go along with six touchdowns and is likely going to be used even more in 2018.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
As last season showed the Dallas Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott is the heart and soul of their offense. Dak Prescott struggled in a big way with Elliott sidelined due to suspension. Elliott still finished the season with 983 yards and seven touchdowns in just 10 regular season games, and 2018 will see him playing with a chip on his shoulder.
2. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh is dealing with some holdout drama with Le’Veon Bell this offseason, but he is expected to have that figured out by the time the regular season comes around. Bell finished 2017 with 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground, while also catching 85 passes for 655 yards and two touchdowns. His performance in 2017 showed that he is worthy of receiving the big contract that he desires.
1. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
Finally, there is no one that can make an argument against Todd Gurley being the best running back in the NFL heading into the season. He bounced back from a sophomore slump with a huge season in 2017, rushing for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns and catching 64 passes for 788 yards and six touchdowns. Gurley fits perfectly in head coach Sean McVay’s offense, and the future couldn’t be brighter for him in L.A.