A good running back can change the complexion of an offense as a whole. When you have a player capable of breaking tackles, catching the football, and racking up touchdowns, it can change the way an offense flows and functions. Even though an offensive line is critical to a back’s success, a back with good vision, strong legs, and good short area quickness can make up for some weaknesses in the trenches. Let’s take a look at who I think the top ten overall running backs will be in 2021 in no particular order.
Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Not many people in the league run as hard as Nick Chubb. He is a very powerful runner who just wants to hit you all day long. Chubb has good hands and great long speed. With the ever improving offensive line in Cleveland looking like it’s finally an elite unit, we could see a crazy stat sheet from Chubb this year as they try to make a Super Bowl push.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/253 carries/1,366 rushing yards/5.4 YPC/11 rushing touchdowns/22 receptions/182 receiving yards/8.3 YPC/1 receiving touchdown
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Derrick Henry was the 2019 and 2020 NFL rushing king and he looks to take the crown again in 2021. I mean, he is named King Henry for a reason. He is an absolutely massive running back who wants to run over defenses all day long. He is the definition of a cowbell back and is the centerpiece of the Titans offense.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/347 carries/1,839 rushing yards/5.3 YPC/15 rushing touchdowns/5.3 YPC/24 receptions/177 receiving yards/7.4 YPC/0 receiving touchdowns
Christian McCaffery, Carolina Panthers
McCaffery set the league on fire with his dual threat play style in 2019. CMC went for 1,000+ yards in both rushing and receiving. He is a straight touchdown machine and is the Panthers’ offensive centerpiece. CMC is one of the leagues most explosive players and is looking to bounce back from an injury struck 2020 to pick up right where he left off.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/256 carries/1,306 rushing yards/5.1 YPC/12 rushing touchdowns/88 receptions/810 receiving yards/9.1 YPC/4 receiving touchdowns
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
If anyone benefits from the Aaron Rodgers debacle it might be Aaron Jones. His stat sheet will benefit at least. I just think there is no way Aaron Rodgers plays the beginning of the season at least, so a high carry influx for Jones makes sense. He is a dual threat guy who has a real nose for the end zone.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/255 carries/1,352 rushing yards/5.3 PYC/13 rushing touchdowns/53 receptions/445 receiving yards/8.4 YPC/4 receiving touchdowns
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon is a great running back who finally has a half decent offensive line and good offensive weapons around him. This is the least pressure Mixon has ever had to play with. Because there is so little pressure to carry his offense, I believe Mixon is gonna have an amazing year. This is a complete Bengals team with a great passing attack and they will even it out with a steady ground game.
Projected Stat Line: 15 games played/233 carries/1,188 rushing yards/5.1 YPC/10 rushing touchdowns/29 receptions/226 receiving yards/7.8 YPC/2 receiving touchdowns
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Cam Akers is about to put on an absolute show in south Cali. Last year Akers bursted onto the scene in the playoffs and had a few great games towards the end of the year. Cam was a highly touted recruit coming out of high school and was simply misused in college. Akers really put his game on a new level with the help of Sean McVay.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/247 carries/1,284 rushing yards/5.2 YPC/11 rushing touchdowns/27 receptions/219 receiving yards/8.1 YPC/3 receiving touchdowns
Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
If anyone can give Derrick Henry a run for his money in terms of the rushing title, it is Dalvin Cook. Now that Christian Darrisaw is at left tackle, this is an athletic and powerful line that can blow open much bigger holes for Dalvin. After an embarrassing year for the Vikings in 2020, Zimmer is looking to surprise the league and make the playoffs. Dalvin Cook should be leading the offensive charge here.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/323 carries/1,744 rushing yards/5.4 YPC/15 rushing touchdowns/47 receptions/437 receiving yards/9.3 YPC/3 receiving touchdowns
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Alvin is as dynamic as they come. He is a super skilled runner and can run routes from the backfield, from the slot, and even from the outside. Alvin’s balance is ridiculous and he shows a great deal of patience. I think now that Drew Brees is retired, we are going to see a heavier reliance on Alvin which will translate to a wild stat sheet. I also think he’ll be this year’s touchdown king.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/267 carries/1,388 rushing yards/5.2 YPC/18 rushing touchdowns/85 receptions/740 receiving yards/8.7 YPC/7 receiving touchdowns
Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee is one of the most talented running backs in college football history and I think he doesn’t miss a beat during his rookie season in the NFL. This is a Steelers team in desperate team of a running back to rely on and Harris will be just that. I think he can at the very least be one of the Steelers all time greats and he will show us why from year one.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/259 carries/1,373 rushing yards/5.3 YPC/143 rushing touchdowns/62 receptions/446 receiving yards/7.2 YPC/4 receiving touchdowns
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
I think we see what a healthy Saquon Barkley can do this season. This is a New York Giants offense that will flow through Barkley and will rely on him to spark a fearsome ground game. He is a hard runner who can score in every way and has some solid hands in the passing game. Can’t wait to see what such talent can do when healthy.
Projected Stat Line: 17 games played/273 carries/1,447 rushing yards/5.3 YPC/13 rushing touchdowns/84 receptions/740 receiving yards/8.8 YPC/7 receiving touchdowns
Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts