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Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL in 2011

  • Andy Flint

By Lead Columnist Joe F 


Today in the NFL we have many talented running backs. Some of them have all the tools to be considered for this list. The specific traits I look for in a solid running back are vision and patience. The other stuff like speed, trucking abilities, and stiff arms just move you up this list even more. In the up and coming months a running game is what will give you the edge to victory. Control the clock and you may find yourself on the winning end of a lot of late games. This is what these 10 backs give you each and every week.

10.  DeMarco Murray 


What a surprise for the Dallas Cowboys. No one expected this type of production for the 3rd round pick out of Oklahoma. Especially after missing most of the pre-season. He has excellent patience waiting for the blocks to the develop and can catch the ball out of the backfield. DeMarco Murray has come out onto the scene in superstar fashion. In a game against the Rams, Murray broke the Cowboys single game rushing record. He did what Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith couldn’t do. Just an incredible accomplishment for a rookie to do this. He has a very bright future ahead.

2011 Stats : 100 carries, 674 yards, 6.7 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns

9. Arian Foster/Ben Tate 


Okay I kind of cheated here, but I couldn’t leave the two headed monster in Houston out. On some occasions these guys will both have 100 yard days. Foster is having another great year after his injury. Which opened up more of a role for Ben Tate. Houston will have to put the ball on the ground more that Matt Leinart is taking over for the injured Matt Schaub.

2011 Stats :

Foster – 171 carries, 740 yards, 4.3 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns

Tate – 122 carries, 686 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns

8. Frank Gore 


In recent years Gore would be the only bright spot on this 49ers team. Now he’s helping them win a division title. His running has been very important to the Niners. Even with Alex Smith having a good year you want to give the ball to Gore more often than Smith. This will limit Smith’s mistakes. Gore never got enough credit in recent years, but with the team winning he’s getting his share.

2011 Stats : 165 carries, 782 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, 7 touchdowns

7. Steven Jackson 


Jackson is Mr. Consistent. You know you’re going to get a tough runner who will fight for the extra yards even in meaningless games. He’s been one of my favorite fantasy picks for years if I can’t get the guy two spots ahead of him on this list. He’s very determined to get the Rams to the playoffs one of these years.

2011 Stats : 140 carries, 707 yards, 5.1 yards per carry, 4 touchdowns

6. Michael Turner   


Turner has proven me wrong. I thought the bowling ball was going to be out of gas this season. I guess not. They call him “Burner” for a reason. He’s incredibly fast and will break many tackles to get loose into the open field. If Atlanta is going to get back into the playoffs they’re going to need to ride his play to get there.

2011 Stats : 179 carries, 788 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 7 touchdowns

5. Maurice Jones-Drew 


He’s also Mr. Consistent. MJD is my fantasy running back every single year that I can grab him. He can literally do it all. He’s fast, can break tackles, catch the ball out of the backfield, and block. I’ve seen him lay out a few linebackers as well. Jones-Drew is a leader on the field and is just a smart player. I remember him stopping before the goal line against the Jets a few years ago to kill clock. He’s just a heads up player.

2011 Stats : 191 carries, 854 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 4 touchdowns

4. Matt Forte 


Forte jumped onto the scene last year putting up great numbers. He’s stepped his game up even more this year to become one of the NFL’s top backs. Many think if not for Aaron Rodgers, then Matt Forte would be the NFL MVP. He is the Bears most valuable asset on the offensive side of the ball. Other than Hester, he’s the Bears best play maker and can do it on the ground and catching the ball. Only reason he doesn’t have more touchdowns is because Marion Barber steals his goal line carries.

2011 Stats : 166 carries,  869 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns

3. Fred Jackson 


One reason the Bills are back on the map is because Jackson is having a career year. Barring injury he should go well over 1,000 yards on the season. He is the current league leader in rushing yards. The Bills have taken a few losses in the recent weeks. If they want to get back on track handing the ball off to this guy can help their cause.

2011 Stats : 163 carries, 917 yards, 5.6 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns

2. Adrian Peterson  


AP “All Day” is perhaps the best running back in the NFL. There’s only one runner who is slightly better this season, but overall I might just say he’s the best. He has the power and vision to gain a lot of yards on a single play. If he gets to the second level of the defense, beware. Peterson will break tackles and with his cut back moves possibly your ankles. He also doesn’t fumble as much as he used too.

2011 Stats : 180 carries, 846 yards, 4.7 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns

1. LeSean McCoy 


Will the real Shady McCoy please stand up? McCoy has been the only bright spot of the Eagles dismal season so far. The Eagles offense has a ton of speed with Vick, Jackson, and Maclin, but McCoy is by far their fastest player. He can accelerate through the holes when he needs to, and can turn on a dime. Just like his twitter handle. Forget extending DeSean Jackson’s contract. If I’m the Eagles management I’m extending McCoy for a huge payday.

2011 Stats : 165 carries, 906 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, 1o touchdowns

There are other talented running backs that missed the cut. Like Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall, Marshawn Lynch, and even Chris Johnson. They’ll just have to step it up for next time.




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Andy Flint

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5 Responses to Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL in 2011

  • I do think Ray Rice deserves a spot in this list. He is better than Jones-Drew and Murray, probably the second best all-purpose back in the league behind Shady.

    • This was more on running than all purpose, but I see what you mean.

    • Though as form this year all 10 of these guys are better on the ground than Rice. Murray has a ridic 6.7 YPC.

      • I see. I made a similar list before the season started and people were up in arms because I didn’t put Ray Rice higher, and I had Arian Foster at #4…and I did it based on last season’s stats. Murray is good…so far. Don’t think he’s played enough to be considered a top-10 back over some of the other guys (Rice, McFadden)…but if he does it the rest of the season he will be more than deserving. That’s the problem I had with mine, I did it more based on rushing yards, yards per carry, and touchdown as opposed to what they do overall…because not every back is used in all-purpose fashion. Good list though, get ready to have to explain why you ranked who you did at the place you did…it was like talking to a wall re-explaining why I had my rankings the way I did with stats that justified it. Haha.

        • Well Murray is at 100 carries already. So I thought it was a good enough sample. Thanks Jim. We’ll see if YB likes it enough to put it out. I pitched it last night.

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