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Odds for NFL's Top 10 Running Backs to Break the 2,000 Yard Mark in 2013

Wes StueveContributor IIINovember 29, 2016

Odds for NFL's Top 10 Running Backs to Break the 2,000 Yard Mark in 2013

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    Only seven players in NFL history have ran for 2,000 yards in a single season. What are the odds one does it in 2013?

    It happened in 2009 and again in 2012 when Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson broke the mark. Both backs remain in their primes and are candidates to repeat the feat in 2013.

    Most analysts consider 1,000 yards a pretty decent season for a running back. It is obviously extremely difficult to gain 2,000 in a single season, based on how few players have done it.

    That doesn't mean it is impossible that a back does it in 2013. 

    But is it likely?

10. Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

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    With a career average of 5.8 yards per carry and 4,536 rushing yards, Jamaal Charles is clearly a special player. Despite recovering from a torn ACL in 2012, he still ran for 1,509 yards, averaging 5.3 yards per carry along the way.

    As special as Charles is, though, he isn't at all likely to run for 2,000 yards. He has just twice ran for over 1,400 yards in a season, and his carries might decrease in 2013. Andy Reid isn't known for running the ball, and Kansas City has upgraded at quarterback.

    The only time Reid allowed a back to carry the ball 300 times was in 2000. If Charles can't even get 300 carries, he is extremely unlikely to break 2,000 yards. He would probably need closer to 400 attempts to have a realistic chance.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 1 percent

9. Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens

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    Ray Rice has gained at least 1,100 yards in each of the past four seasons. However, he has never even approached 2,000 yards, maxing out at under 1,400. 

    In order to get close to breaking the 2,000-yard barrier, Rice would need more carries and gain more yards per carry. He had 257 carries in 2012 while averaging 4.4 yards, just below his career average of 4.5.

    With a legitimate second back in Bernard Pierce now on the Ravens, Rice probably won't see any more carries in 2013. If anything, his carries will go down as Pierce establishes himself as an offensive weapon. Baltimore may also look to pass more after Joe Flacco's emergence into the spotlight.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 1 percent

8. Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

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    The concern with Alfred Morris moving forward is that Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan could replace him at any time. He has moved on from many productive backs in the past, and he could do so again.

    However, Morris was unusually productive in 2012, even for a Shanahan running back, as the rookie ran for 1,613 yards, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. 

    Assuming Morris sees similar playing time in 2013—the Redskins did draft two running backs—he could produce similar numbers. Washington will probably look to run the ball quite a bit in 2013 in order to take the pressure off a recovering Robert Griffin III, who may not even be back to start the season.

    If Kirk Cousins starts for the Redskins, Bell could see even more action. 

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 4 percent

7. Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

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    In 2012, Arian Foster's yards per carry dipped to a career low, as he averaged just 4.1 yards per rush. Because he carried the ball 351 times, he still ran for an impressive 1,424 yards. 

    A former undrafted free agent, Foster is probably talented enough to join the 2,000 yard club. However, he may not get the chance to. Houston drafted DeAndre Hopkins in the first round, and the team may be looking to pass more in 2013.

    There are two other issues with Foster. One, he has often struggled with injuries. Hamstring problems have plagued him since he was at Tennessee, and the Texans have a capable second back in Ben Tate. Also, the Texans' lackluster offensive line will likely keep Foster from gaining too many yards.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 6 percent

6. C.J. Spiller, RB, Buffalo Bills

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    It took a few years, but C.J. Spiller is now one of the NFL's most dynamic running backs. The former No. 9 overall pick averaged 6.0 yards per carry in 2012, and he was clearly Buffalo's top offensive player.

    In order to run for 2,000 yards, though, Spiller will need plenty of carries. Last year, he carried the ball just 207 times. That isn't nearly enough—Spiller will need to nearly double his attempts to get close.

    That could happen. Buffalo will likely be playing most of its games with a rookie quarterback in E.J. Manuel, and the Bills will be trying an unconventional zone read offense under Doug Marrone. 

    If Spiller were guaranteed more carries, he would have a much better shot. The presence of Fred Jackson doesn't help him here.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 7 percent

5. LeSean McCoy, RB, Philadelphia Eagles

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    LeSean McCoy has never come close to 2,000 yards. Fortunately for him, while his previous five seasons were spent under the pass-friendly Andy Reid, his next one will be spent under Chip Kelly.

    And Chip Kelly loves to run the ball.

    It's impossible to say what Kelly's offense will look like in the NFL. At Oregon, though, Kelly gave Kenjon Barner 278 carries in 2012. That is quite a few for a college back.

    Philadelphia's uncertain quarterback situation probably won't make Kelly any more inclined to throw the ball. Whether it's Michael Vick, Nick Foles or Matt Barkley under center, the Eagles will rely on their run game. 

    Expect McCoy to run the ball more in 2013 behind a much improved offensive line. He still may not get close to 2,000, though, as Bryce Brown and Felix Jones look to take away some carries. 

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 7 percent

4. Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    As a rookie, Doug Martin ran for 1,454 yards in 2012, and that was after a slow start, as Martin didn't run for 100 yards until his seventh game.

    This year, the Buccaneers enter the season knowing what they have at running back. The team knows it can rely on Martin, but it doesn't know that it can rely on Josh Freeman at quarterback.

    A year ago, Tampa Bay trusted its passing game so little that an unproven rookie running back carried the ball 319 times. Martin isn't unproven anymore.

    Helping Martin as well is the return of Tampa Bay's two starting guards, Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks, who played in a combined seven games last year. The two massive guards should be a huge boost in opening holes for Martin.

    Working against Martin is simple probability. He is a talented back, but he isn't exceptional, and it takes an exceptional player to run for 2,000 yards. 

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 10 percent

3. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks

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    Marshawn Lynch was the NFL's second-best running back in 2012. Beast Mode ran for an impressive 1,590 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

    Still just 27 years old, Lynch is young enough that he may not have yet had his best season. He is certainly capable of performing at the same level he did a year ago. 

    In 2013, though, Lynch may not have as many opportunities. Last year, the Seahawks started an unproven rookie quarterback. Now, Russell Wilson is a proven star. 

    With Percy Harvin at wide receiver, and Wilson assumedly improving, it make sense for Seattle to pass the ball more this year. The development of Robert Turbin and drafting of Christine Michael could lead to the Seahawks sharing carries more.

    There is no denying that Lynch is a beast. He is talented enough to break 2,000 yards. He just may not have the chance, as Seattle's offense grows and improves around him.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 12 percent

2. Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans

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    Of any player on this list, Chris Johnson is the one most likely to look like a ridiculous inclusion in a year's time. Certainly, his past two seasons haven't provided much reason to have faith in him breaking 2,000 yards.

    But it wasn't long ago that Johnson was considered an elite player. It was just four years ago that he ran for 2,006 yards himself. And it's not like Johnson is old—he's still just 27 years old.

    In the past, Tennessee's horrific offensive line seriously hindered Johnson's production. Now, the Titans have a brand new center three. The team paid Andy Levitre in free agency, then used the No. 10 pick on Chance Warmack. They will start at guard, and fourth-round pick Brian Schwenke has a chance to start at center.

    With these additions, it's possible that CJ2K could return in 2013. He hasn't been terrible the past two years, but he will need to take a step forward in order to have a chance. 

    If Johnson doesn't break 2,000 yards, it probably won't be because of too few opportunities. With Jake Locker at quarterback, the Titans should be looking to run the ball as much as possible.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 14 percent

1. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

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    In 2012, Adrian Peterson put together what may have been the best rushing season of all time. He came up eight yards short of the single-season record, but he dominated like few ever have.

    Let's go over the numbers, lest you forget just how incredible Peterson's season was. He ran for 2,097 yards, averaging 6.0 yards per carry. This was after he tore his ACL in December the year before.

    While 2012 was his best season, it wasn't too out of place for Peterson. In 2008, he ran for 1,760 yards, and he has failed to break 1,300 yards just twice—both times due to injury.

    At 28 years old, Peterson is nearing the end of his prime. That doesn't mean he can't have another great season or three in him, though. Regular rules don't apply to this guy.

    Either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel will be starting at quarterback. That means plenty of carries for Peterson, and, as he showed last year, it doesn't matter how much defenses stack the box.

    No running back has ever run for 2,000 yards twice. With more talent than perhaps any other running back in history, Peterson could do it. He probably won't, but he could.

    It probably isn't wise to bet against him.

    Odds of gaining 2,000 yards: 35 percent

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