What the heavens. Let’s get to talking running backs. Again, typing out this list was done in one effortless motion. Ranking the individuals took some time.
1. On second-and-goal from the one-yard line, your team will rely on _____________ for the go-ahead touchdown with 27 seconds left in the game.
2. No running back was evaluated for his ability to cut on a dime; again, I was unable to watch 224 hours of footage. (Sorry.)
3. These ball carriers aren’t necessary the workhorse, or centerpiece, of the backfield, rather these backs are the men you want on the starting 11 during crunch time.
4. (Hypothetically), none of the five will sustain any injuries in 2015.
From best … to most explosive.
5. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo says he plans to "go with the guy that has the hot hand" at running back.
May that be Crowell, Terrance West, or incoming rookie Duke Johnson, the Browns’ voluminous ground attack will be led by the No. 5 guy on this list. Comparing Crowell to West is saying that blueberries are better than frozen blueberries, and well, I’m taking the ones at room temperature. I went with the first due to this statistic that makes me want to chew my nails: In Week 10 against the Bengals, West’s 26 rushing attempts summed 94 yards and a touchdown, while Crowell finished with 41 yards and an endzone rumble on 12 carries. Call it high expectations, but if I’m handing my starter 26 opportunities, I’m expecting him to average more than 3.6 yards-per-carry.
4. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
Reservation for one, please, he said.
The journeyman had to hike a few mountains to make this list. But he’s here, and that’s what matters. Forget the three-year, $9 million contract he signed in March. The Ravens' premiere, A-class running back finished with 1,266 rushing yards, 40 steps short of taking the fourth-most in the NFL last season ... I'd be the first to say that the dollar amount wasn’t the tail he sought after. Flourishing under former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, we should expect Forsett to repeat and crush his personal achievement with Marc Trestman calling the shots from the sidelines.
3. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green is the man who makes the world go ‘round in Cincy, and Bernard is his co-pilot.
Andy Dalton’s checkdown receiver is the team’s second-best playmaker. He missed three games in 2014 (hip), and still managed to produce 234 rushing yards and 170 receiving yards with a touchdown in a five-game stretch. When healthy, the multi-dimensional, all-weatherproof back who can withstand the hits.
2. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals
But so can Hill. After 16 games, Hill is already … behind Rudi Johnson on this all-time Fantasy Points list. The Bengals schedule is tough against the run (Texans, Cardinals, Ravens, Seahawks), but behind the seventh-best offensive line (according to PFF Offensive Line Rankings), we should expect Hill to put up decent numbers in 2015.
1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Must I explain? Bell is ¾-beast, ¼-amazing when he’s in tip-top shape. Finishing in second-place behind rushing title champ DeMarco Murray, Bell registered 1,361 rushing yards in 16 starts.
The only reason why I loathe No. 26 is because he plays in the AFC North.