1. To unlock all of features of Rams On Demand please take a brief moment to register. Registering is not only quick and easy, it also allows you access to additional features such as live chat, private messaging, and a host of other apps exclusive to Rams On Demand.

Ranking all 32 NFL backfields: Projections and 2018 outlook

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by CGI_Ram, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. CGI_Ram

    Hamburger Connoisseur
    Moderator
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    28,702
    Likes Received:
    23,966
    Location:
    NB, Canada
    http://www.espn.com/nfl/insider/story/_/id/23974003/ranking-nfl-backfields-2018-projections

    Ranking all 32 NFL backfields: Projections and 2018 outlook

    The running back position is not what it used to be.

    With NFL teams passing more than ever and backs expected to catch and pass-protect, focus has shifted from workhorses to committees.

    Here is my ranking of all 32 backfields, with stat projections and what to expect from each unit in 2018.

    1. New Orleans Saints
    Top three backs: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Terrance West

    Projected unit stats: 386 carries, 1,721 yards, 16 TDs; 122 receptions, 1,080 yards, 5 TDs

    Outlook: Ingram's four-game suspension to begin the 2018 season is not enough to knock New Orleans from the top spot. Led by Ingram and Kamara, the Saints' backfield paced the league in rushing yards (2,011), yards per carry (5.10), receptions (143), receiving yards (1,254) and total touchdowns (26) last season. New Orleans backs have flourished in the passing game during the Drew Brees/Sean Payton era, ranking first in the league in receptions (1,339), receiving yards (10,187) and touchdown catches (67) over the past decade. West and intriguing sixth-round pick Boston Scott are the favorites for No. 3 duties and could make some noise while Ingram is sidelined.


    2. Los Angeles Rams
    Top three backs: Todd Gurley II, John Kelly, Malcolm Brown

    Projected unit stats: 374 carries, 1,636 yards, 13 TDs; 75 receptions, 660 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Gurley was arguably the league's best running back last season. He paced all backs in scrimmage yards (2,093) and touchdowns (19), while averaging 4.7 YPC (10th) and 12.3 yards per reception (second). Gurley was on the field for more than 80 percent of the Rams' offensive snaps when he was active, and that number doesn't figure to change much in 2018 with Brown and intriguing rookie Kelly, a sixth-round pick, next up on the depth chart.


    3. Pittsburgh Steelers
    Top three backs: Le'Veon Bell, James Conner, Jaylen Samuels

    Projected unit stats: 379 carries, 1,610 yards, 12 TDs; 88 receptions, 704 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Bell is the ultimate workhorse. Counting only the weeks he was active over the past two seasons, he was on the field for 92 percent of the Steelers' snaps, ran a route on 85 percent of the pass plays and was responsible for 82 percent of the designed runs and 20 percent of the targets. Last season, Bell easily paced the position in carries (321), rushing yards (1,291) and receptions (85). Assuming his holdout ends prior to Week 1, Bell will be a good bet to eclipse 1,200 scrimmage yards for the fifth time in six seasons. Second-year back Conner and rookie H-back Samuels will pick up the scraps.


    4. Atlanta Falcons
    Top three backs: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Ito Smith

    Projected unit stats: 384 carries, 1,600 yards, 13 TDs; 86 receptions, 767 yards, 4 TDs

    Outlook: If this experiment was instead focused on backfield duos, you'd be hard-pressed to rank Atlanta outside the top two. Since teaming up in 2015, Freeman and Coleman have combined for 1,049 carries for 4,540 yards and 43 touchdowns to go with 223 catches for 2,091 yards and 12 scores. That works out to an outstanding 4.3 YPC and 9.4 YPR. Freeman, who signed a contract extension last August, will continue to lead the Atlanta backfield, but Coleman, who's entering a contract year, will mix in with 10 to 12 touches per game.


    5. Dallas Cowboys
    Top three backs: Ezekiel Elliott, Tavon Austin, Rod Smith

    Projected unit stats: 398 carries, 1,730 yards, 14 TDs; 73 receptions, 634 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Since Elliott arrived in 2016, the Dallas backfield ranks first in the NFL in rushing attempts (839), first in rushing yards (3,757), fifth in rushing touchdowns (30) and third in yards per carry (4.5). On the other hand, Cowboys backs haven't done much as receivers, ranking near the bottom in most categories, including dead last in touchdown catches over the past three years (four) and decade (12). Elliott is the feature back here, but Dallas traded for Austin in April, and he's expected to handle change-of-pace and some receiving duties. Believe it or not, Austin's 6.7 YPC since entering the league in 2013 is best among all backs with at least 100 carries.


    6. Arizona Cardinals
    Top three backs: David Johnson, Chase Edmonds, T.J. Logan

    Projected unit stats: 357 carries, 1,449 yards, 11 TDs; 101 receptions, 929 yards, 4 TDs

    Outlook: Johnson is back after missing all but one game in 2017 due to a wrist injury. The 26-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2016 campaign, ranking first among all backs in snaps (906), touches (373), scrimmage yards (2,118), touchdowns (20), receptions (80) and receiving yards (879), while also ranking in the top 10 in most rushing categories. Arizona's running-backs unit was the only one in the league that failed to account for a single touchdown reception last season, something unlikely to repeat itself with Johnson on the field. A rare workhorse, Johnson was on the field for 83 percent of Arizona's offensive snaps in 2016, and we should expect a similar workload this season. Edmonds and the speedy Logan are mid-round picks over the past two years who will compete for change-of-pace duties.


    7. Tennessee Titans
    Top three backs: Derrick Henry, Dion Lewis, Akrum Wadley

    Projected unit stats: 363 carries, 1,545 yards, 11 TDs; 72 receptions, 601 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: A former Patriot, Lewis led the NFL in yards after contact per attempt (2.6) last season, while Henry finished third (2.5). Both finished in the top five in Pro Football Focus' elusive rating. This has the makings of a potentially lethal duo, but it's hard to rank them much higher for several reasons. For starters, Henry is an effective rusher but a liability as a receiver and pass-blocker. Lewis will handle a heavy chunk of those duties, but his issue is durability. The 27-year-old appeared in all 16 regular-season games for the first time in his career in 2017 after managing only 38 of a possible 96 games during his first six seasons. Expect Henry to handle more of the early-down and short-yardage duties, with Lewis thriving as a receiver and change-of-pace rusher.


    8. Cleveland Browns
    Top three backs: Duke Johnson Jr., Nick Chubb, Carlos Hyde

    Projected unit stats: 341 carries, 1,424 yards, 11 TDs; 83 receptions, 715 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: Browns running backs ranked dead last in the league with 293 carries last season, but that's a figure likely to rise after the team signed Hyde, drafted Chubb in the second round and signed Johnson to a three-year extension. Led by Johnson, Cleveland backs combined for 109 catches and 923 receiving yards last season, both of which ranked third in the league. Hyde is a liability as a pass-blocker and receiver, but he won't be asked to do that much. He had been an effective rusher prior to an underwhelming 2017 campaign. In fact, even including last season, Hyde's 2.0 YAC ranks fourth among 20 backs with 600-plus carries since he entered the league in 2014. Hyde and Chubb will compete for the bulk of the carries, with Johnson sticking to his change-of-pace and passing-down gig.


    9. Kansas City Chiefs
    Top three backs: Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Damien Williams

    Projected unit stats: 312 carries, 1,312 yards, 11 TDs; 79 receptions, 645 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: The Chiefs landed a gem in Hunt in the third round of last year's draft. The Toledo product rocketed his way to a league-high 1,327 rushing yards while also adding 455 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. It was an impressive achievement for any rookie, let alone one operating in Andy Reid's low-volume rush offense, but averaging 4.9 YPC (sixth best) certainly helped his cause. Though Hunt has emerged as the team's feature back, Ware (career 4.6 YPC) is back from a knee injury that cost him all of 2017. He and Damien Williams, Charcandrick West and Kerwynn Williams will compete for change-of-pace touches.


    10. New England Patriots
    Top three backs: Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead

    Projected unit stats: 393 carries, 1,672 yards, 15 TDs; 105 receptions, 870 yards, 5 TDs

    Outlook: The Patriots are known for their committee approach, but we very well could see a bit of a change in 2018 after Bill Belichick & Co. spent a first-round pick on Michel. Passing-down specialist White, versatile Burkhead and one of Jeremy Hill or Mike Gillislee also figure to mix in, but considering the team's success with Burkhead and Dion Lewis last season, it's fair to expect Michel will see an opportunity for significant touches. Patriots backs have averaged a pedestrian 4.1 YPC over the past three seasons, but they were at 4.4 last season. The unit combined for a league-high nine touchdown receptions in 2017, and it ranks first with 23 over the past three seasons. Belichick's sum-of-the-parts approach has worked fairly well, so we should expect another strong season from his backfield in 2018.


    11. Buffalo Bills
    Top three backs: LeSean McCoy, Chris Ivory, Travaris Cadet

    Projected unit stats: 378 carries, 1,631 yards, 11 TDs; 88 receptions, 686 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: Believe it or not, Bills running backs have led the NFL with a 4.6 YPC over the past three seasons. The soon-to-be-30 McCoy's efficiency dipped last season (4.0 YPC), but only Bell exceeded his 287 carries, and McCoy caught 59 passes, his most since 2010. Buffalo added near-replacement-level veteran Ivory as McCoy's primary backup, while Cadet figures to chip in on passing downs after showing well in a small sample last season. I might be guilty of some veteran deference here, but McCoy's elusiveness and workhorse role keep Buffalo near the top 10.


    12. New York Giants
    Top three backs: Saquon Barkley, Jonathan Stewart, Wayne Gallman

    Projected unit stats: 366 carries, 1,562 yards, 10 TDs; 82 receptions, 693 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: If Barkley lives up to the pedigree that comes with being selected No. 2 overall, then yes, this ranking will prove too low. Of course, he has yet to play an NFL down, which is why New York comes in behind backfields with proven standouts. Similar to the likes of Bell, Gurley and Johnson, Barkley is expected to immediately step into an every-down, workhorse role, figuring to be on the field for at least three-quarters of offensive snaps. His explosive playmaking ability and receiving prowess supply him with maximum statistical upside. Stewart was signed away from Carolina as a backup option, but he doesn't bring much to the table as a rusher (3.4 YPC last season) or receiver (16 catches over the past two seasons).


    13. Jacksonville Jaguars
    Top three backs: Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant

    Projected unit stats: 425 carries, 1,688 yards, 14 TDs; 89 receptions, 723 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: Jacksonville committed to a run-heavy offense last season, and the new game plan led to a league-high 464 rushing attempts. Only Saints backs exceeded the Jags' 1,928 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. The backfield was led by Fournette, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 draft, who had the sixth-most touches in the league (304) despite missing three games. Fournette's rushing efficiency was not particularly good (3.9 YPC, 1.6 YAC), and he averaged an ugly 3.3 YPC over his final 200 carries of the season. Fournette remains the team's feature back with Yeldon (30-plus receptions each of the past three seasons) and Grant (6.1 career YPC) mixing in.


    14. Minnesota Vikings
    Top three backs: Dalvin Cook, Latavius Murray, Mack Brown

    Projected unit stats: 375 carries, 1,563 yards, 11 TDs; 80 receptions, 703 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Cook was on the field for 69 percent of Minnesota's offensive snaps and handled 73 percent of the team's designed runs and 13 percent of the targets prior to tearing an ACL in Week 4 last season. Those are workhorse numbers for the 2017 second-round pick, who produced while on the field. Cook averaged 4.8 YPC (eighth best in the league) on 74 attempts. With Jerick McKinnon gone, Cook's feature-back role is secure heading into his second season. Murray is a competent, albeit unspectacular, backup, having failed to eclipse 4.0 YPC in a season since 2014.


    15. Chicago Bears
    Top three backs: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham

    Projected unit stats: 332 carries, 1,400 yards, 10 TDs; 97 receptions, 773 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Howard and Cohen form one of the league's most intriguing young duos, but there's a reason why the two recent mid-round picks aren't ranked higher here. Howard has been a great rusher since entering the league in 2016, ranking fifth in carries (528) and third in rushing yards (2,435), but he's not well-rounded. While Howard's efficiency dropped from "elite" as a rookie to "solid" in 2017, he has been one of the league's worst receiving backs (5.4 career yards per target) so far. Cohen was an explosive playmaker as a rookie, but a deeper look shows a 1.3 YAC (second worst at the position) and a shaky 5.26 yards per target. At 5-foot-6, 190 pounds, Cohen simply isn't built for anything more than a change-of-pace role. There are some red flags here, but also massive upside, especially in new coach Matt Nagy's offense.


    16. Carolina Panthers
    Top three backs: Christian McCaffrey, C.J. Anderson, Cameron Artis-Payne

    Projected unit stats: 326 carries, 1,340 yards, 9 TDs; 94 receptions, 809 yards, 4 TDs

    Outlook: This backfield has belonged to DeAngelo Williams and/or Jonathan Stewart each of the past 10 seasons, but both are now gone, and the team seems ready to turn it over to McCaffrey, the eighth overall pick in 2017. The Stanford product struggled badly as a rusher on 117 rookie-season attempts (3.7 YPC, 1.4 YAC) but dominated as a receiver. He led all backs in targets (110) and ranked in the top five in receptions (80), yards (651) and touchdown catches (five). McCaffrey is expected to handle more carries in his second season, but Anderson will be involved plenty on early downs. Since entering the league in 2013, Anderson's 4.4 YPC ranks fifth and his 2.0 YAC ranks sixth among 28 backs with 600-plus carries.


    17. Los Angeles Chargers
    Top three backs: Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson

    Projected unit stats: 381 carries, 1,516 yards, 8 TDs; 90 receptions, 772 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Coach Anthony Lynn said at the combine earlier this year that he planned to add a back to give Gordon some additional relief this season. So much for that? With only undersized Ekeler and seventh-round lottery ticket Jackson in the mix, it appears Gordon will again operate as a workhorse. And that's what Gordon has been over the past two years, ranking in the top 10 at the position in snaps, carries and pass routes for both seasons. Gordon plays a massive role and is a solid pass-catcher (9.0 YPR over the past two seasons), but his shaky rushing efficiency -- he has never eclipsed 3.9 YPC -- suggests he's probably overrated. Still, he'll be the guy leading this unit.


    18. Philadelphia Eagles
    Top three backs: Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement

    Projected unit stats: 376 carries, 1,614 yards, 9 TDs; 74 receptions, 610 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: The Eagles leaned heavily -- and successfully -- on a committee last season, with LeGarrette Blount leading the way in snaps (337) and carries (173). Ajayi joined the team in Week 9 and, including three playoff games, handled 39 percent of the backfield snaps during his 10 games. Blount is gone, but Sproles is back after missing all but three games due to injury last season. Ajayi is expected to be the first man up in rushing situations, especially considering that his 2.4 YAC since entering the league is best among all backs with 500-plus carries during the span. Sproles is now 35, but he could still be the primary back on passing downs. Clement was a solid find as an undrafted free agent last season who will see some snaps.


    19. Washington Redskins
    Top three backs: Derrius Guice, Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine

    Projected unit stats: 344 carries, 1,464 yards, 10 TDs; 84 receptions, 713 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: After striking out on Perine in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, the Redskins went ahead and scooped up Guice in the second round this April. The LSU product was considered a fringe first-round talent by most and is expected to handle a heavy chunk of the team's early-down and goal-line work. That will allow Thompson to return to his ideal role as a change-of-pace back and receiving specialist. Despite missing six games over the past two seasons, Thompson ranks seventh at the position with 859 receiving yards. He has been effective as a rusher as well; his 5.2 YPC over the past three seasons is No. 1 in the NFL among backs with 150-plus attempts. If Guice proves legit, this backfield duo could be one of the league's best.


    20. Detroit Lions
    Top three backs: Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, LeGarrette Blount

    Projected unit stats: 333 carries, 1,366 yards, 9 TDs; 91 receptions, 733 yards, 4 TDs

    Outlook: Lions running backs averaged a league-worst 3.3 yards per carry last season. In fact, the unit ranks dead last in the category over the past three seasons (3.5) and past decade (3.8). With the hire of new coach Matt Patricia, the franchise made an effort this offseason to fix its rushing woes by signing super-efficient rusher Blount and selecting potential three-down back Johnson in the second round of April's draft. Blount is perhaps the league's most underrated back, having averaged 2.3 yards after contact per attempt over the past decade -- No. 1 among 76 backs with 550-plus carries. Riddick is one of the game's best receiving backs; he ranks either first or second at the position in targets (235), receptions (186), receiving yards (1,512) and touchdown catches (10) over the past three seasons. Expect all three backs to play a significant role, and former second-round pick Ameer Abdullah could also be involved.


    21. Cincinnati Bengals
    Top three backs: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Mark Walton

    Projected unit stats: 335 carries, 1,337 yards, 8 TDs; 88 receptions, 733 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: Mixon is expected to enter his second season as the team's feature back, but he'll need to improve drastically after an inefficient rookie year. Mixon averaged 3.5 YPC (1.7 YAC) and ranked last in PFF's elusive rating. Bernard helps the team's ranking, as he's a terrific receiver and blocker and underrated as a rusher (career 4.2 YPC). He has ranked no lower than 17th at the position in receiving yards during his five pro seasons. Walton, a fourth-round pick out of Miami this year, is a name to watch if Mixon stumbles.


    22. Seattle Seahawks
    Top three backs: Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise

    Projected unit stats: 332 carries, 1,396 yards, 9 TDs; 65 receptions, 571 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Seattle backs totaled a league-worst 994 yards and one touchdown on the ground last season. That was certainly a major reason why the team selected Penny in the first round of April's draft. It shouldn't take long for the reigning FBS leader in rushing yards to take over as the clear lead back as the team returns to a more run-oriented scheme. Carson was a gem find in the seventh round of last year's draft and provides depth. Prosise has massive upside, but injury woes have him competing with J.D. McKissic for occasional passing-down work.


    23. Oakland Raiders
    Top three backs: Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, DeAndre Washington

    Projected unit stats: 368 carries, 1,530 yards, 12 TDs; 84 receptions, 648 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Despite all the hype surrounding his return last season, Lynch somewhat quietly put together a solid campaign. He averaged 4.30 yards per carry, 2.47 yards after contact (fifth best), ended up fourth in PFF's elusive rating and was strong in pass protection. He's back for more in what is expected to be a run-first offense under coach Jon Gruden and coordinator Greg Olson, but Lynch is now 32 years old, and Oakland inexplicably signed Martin. The former Buc is averaging 2.93 YPC over the past two seasons, ranking in the bottom five of the category both years. Washington and Jalen Richard also could contribute.


    24. Green Bay Packers
    Top three backs: Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones

    Projected unit stats: 341 carries, 1,443 yards, 10 TDs; 85 receptions, 710 yards, 4 TDs

    Outlook: Williams, a 2017 fourth-round pick, is expected to be the first man up. His rushing efficiency was weak with 3.63 yards per carry -- hardly a surprise after an underwhelming final season at BYU -- but he thrived as a receiver with 10.5 yards per reception and as a pass-blocker. Jones was the opposite, posting the position's second-best YPC with 5.53 but struggling as a receiver with 2.4 yards per reception and as a blocker. Converted wide receiver Montgomery was the feature back early, but he struggled with injuries and rushing efficiency. This is one of the toughest depth charts to sort out, as there is a wide range of possible outcomes for snaps and effectiveness.


    25. Baltimore Ravens
    Top three backs: Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon, Javorius Allen

    Projected unit stats: 396 carries, 1,664 yards, 10 TDs; 99 receptions, 724 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: It looks like it'll be a three-headed backfield attack in 2018. Collins, a 2016 fifth-round pick who was cut by Seattle after one season, enjoyed a breakout 2017 campaign in Baltimore. Despite not playing a lead-back role until midseason, Collins finished in the top 15 at the position in carries (212), rushing yards (973), rushing touchdowns (six), yards per carry (4.59) and yards after catch (2.11). Collins deferred most receiving work to Allen, who doesn't offer much as a rusher but has quietly finished in the top 15 among backs in receptions in both of his full NFL seasons. The wild card is Dixon, who impressed on 118 touches as a rookie in 2016 but has missed 20 of 32 career games due to injuries and suspension. This could be a formidable trio, but Collins and Dixon still have much to prove.


    26. New York Jets
    Top three backs: Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire

    Projected unit stats: 361 carries, 1,513 yards, 9 TDs; 89 receptions, 698 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: The Jets also are likely to lean on a committee. Crowell helps replace the retired Matt Forte after spending the first four seasons of his career in Cleveland. Crowell has never finished a season worse than 27th at the position in rushing yards -- top 20 in each of the past two seasons -- and is averaging a healthy 4.47 yards per carry over his past two campaigns. Complementing Crowell will be Powell, who has averaged at least 4.27 YPC each of the past four seasons, and second-year player McGuire, who generated 492 yards on 105 rookie-season touches.


    27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
    Top three backs: Ronald Jones II, Charles Sims, Peyton Barber

    Projected unit stats: 364 carries, 1,512 yards, 7 TDs; 71 receptions, 591 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: After six years on the Doug Martin roller coaster, the Bucs moved on and replaced him with Jones in the second round of April's draft. The former USC standout is an explosive playmaker with the ability to contribute in all phases, but his 5-foot-11, 205-pound frame suggests he won't be called on for workhorse duties. Instead, expect passing-down specialist Sims (career 9.0 yards per reception), Barber (3.92 yards per carry last season) and perhaps Jacquizz Rodgers to factor in.


    28. Miami Dolphins
    Top three backs: Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, Kalen Ballage

    Projected unit stats: 330 carries, 1,379 yards, 8 TDs; 72 receptions, 554 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: Drake has registered only 166 carries since being drafted in the third round of 2016, but his career 5.0 yards per carry supplies plenty of reason for optimism. He enjoyed a mini breakout down the stretch last season, pacing the league with 444 rushing yards once promoted to a full-time role in Week 13. He's expected to get the first shot at lead-back duties, but 35-year-old Gore, who is averaging 3.80 YPC over the past three seasons, also will be involved. Fourth-round rookie Ballage has generated some hype, but he'll need to dramatically improve on ugly efficiency at Arizona State.


    29. San Francisco 49ers
    Top three backs: Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida, Kyle Juszczyk

    Projected unit stats: 363 carries, 1,468 yards, 12 TDs; 119 receptions, 970 yards, 4 TDs

    Outlook: The 49ers moved on from Carlos Hyde and replaced him with McKinnon. Hyde ranked second at the position in snaps (755) and seventh in touches (299), while Niners backs last season combined for 163 targets, which was only seven behind New Orleans for most in the league. It's fair to expect McKinnon to be handed a similarly massive role in 2018, but there are major concerns about his effectiveness. McKinnon has never eclipsed 159 carries in a single season and is averaging 3.59 yards per carry (worst at the position) and 1.50 yards after catch (second worst) over the past two seasons. Breida and Joe Williams will push for snaps and fullback Juszczyk also will play a significant role.


    30. Denver Broncos
    Top three backs: Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, De'Angelo Henderson

    Projected unit stats: 392 carries, 1,596 yards, 10 TDs; 93 receptions, 760 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Denver's backfield has a new look. Booker, a 2016 fourth-round pick, could enter Week 1 as the default starter and figures to play a role this season, but it's unlikely he emerges into anything more than a complementary/passing-down back after averaging 3.60 yards per carry (1.84 yards after catch) on his first 253 carries. Instead, look for all-time FBS rushing leader Freeman to handle a hefty chunk of carries, though he's unlikely to do much as a receiver. Second-year player Henderson will be a name to watch if either Freeman or Booker stumbles.


    31. Houston Texans
    Top three backs: Lamar Miller, D'Onta Foreman, Alfred Blue

    Projected unit stats: 381 carries, 1,511 yards, 9 TDs; 55 receptions, 435 yards, 2 TDs

    Outlook: Bill O'Brien's run-heavy offense has ranked No. 1 in the league with 1,236 rushing attempts over the past three seasons. Assuming that continues, Miller won't be short on carries early on, but we can't be sure he holds on to the job after two years of ugly efficiency. He finished ahead of only Joe Mixon in PFF's elusive rating last season after finishing third to last in 2016. He posted a career-low 3.73 yards per carry in 2017 and played fewer snaps than Blue in Weeks 15 through 17. If a changing of the guard is on tap, Foreman is the man to watch. The 2017 third-round pick looked solid on 140 snaps before tearing an Achilles tendon last season. He's a major question mark but offers this group some upside.


    32. Indianapolis Colts
    Top three backs: Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, Nyheim Hines

    Projected unit stats: 351 carries, 1,407 yards, 9 TDs; 82 receptions, 683 yards, 3 TDs

    Outlook: Frank Gore was not re-signed, leaving Indianapolis with more questions than answers at running back. Mack, a 2017 fourth-round pick, was solid as a rookie with 2.25 yards after catch and 10.7 yards per reception, but he profiles as a committee back and is recovering from shoulder surgery. Hines and Wilkins were both 2018 mid-round draft picks. Hines is undersized, but he offers explosive upside as a change-of-pace option. Wilkins is perhaps the most intriguing name here, as he most closely resembles a three-down back and was efficient at Ole Miss. Veteran Robert Turbin could factor in when he returns from a four-game suspension.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. den-the-coach

    Fifty-four Forty or Fight
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    Messages:
    12,127
    Likes Received:
    17,819
    Location:
    Upstate New York
    FWIW's Alvin Kamara scares the bejesus out of me.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Cheers Cheers x 1
  3. snackdaddy

    Hall of Fame
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    May 6, 2014
    Messages:
    3,237
    Likes Received:
    3,748
    Location:
    Merced, Ca.
    Gurley scored 19 TD's rushing and receiving last year by himself. They're projecting the whole backfield to score less?
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • High Five High Five x 1
  4. dang

    Rookie
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2018
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    359
    Location:
    Virginia
    Rams projections are likely 90% Gurley with little expectation for the backups. So for Gurley that equates to about 1450 rushing yds 12 tds. 600 receiving yds 3 Tds. That sounds like a good season to me.
     
  5. TexasRam

    Hall of Fame
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    2,027
    Likes Received:
    2,840
    Tavons absence will be felt.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Different Opinion Different Opinion x 1
  6. 1maGoh

    Starter
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2013
    Messages:
    930
    Likes Received:
    708
    By Dallas on paying plays.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • HaHaHa HaHaHa x 1
  7. LesBaker

    Mr. Savant
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2012
    Messages:
    13,791
    Likes Received:
    10,873
    He's a threat to break off a big play anytime and from anywhere. They got a good one.

    Well I would agree except with Cooks speed McVay can cobble some stuff together that can keep defenses from keying in too much.
     
    • High Five High Five x 1
    • Cheers Cheers x 1
  8. CGI_Ram

    Hamburger Connoisseur
    Moderator
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2010
    Messages:
    28,702
    Likes Received:
    23,966
    Location:
    NB, Canada
    I think it could, particularly on the sweeps. But it sounds like the Rams have confidence sending those plays to Cooks.
     
  9. dang

    Rookie
    Expand Collapse

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2018
    Messages:
    380
    Likes Received:
    359
    Location:
    Virginia
    Don't get me wrong - I don't think the Rams ever figured out what to do with Tavon's talent (yes - he had talent) - but I believe Pharoh Cooper or Brandin Cooks could provide the same decoy and/or occasional mis-direction play.
     
    • Like Like x 1