NFL: The Top 10 Running Backs in 2010
Running backs, in my opinion, are the most fun players to watch on the football field.
It's so interesting that they can be: blazing fast, bulldozers, big, and small. When you look at running backs over the last five to six years, the best were LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Priest Holmes, Brian Westbrook, and Shaun Alexander.
But, each of those players are past their prime and there is a new era of running backs in the NFL. This is a list of the top 10 players that will perform the best in 2010.
10. Beanie Wells: Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals enter the 2010 season with questions due to the losses of Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Karlos Dansby.
I know one thing, and that is Beanie Wells will have a great season. Wells had a decent rookie season with 793 rushing yards, but I expect him to go from decent to great this year.
I think Wells will have over 1,000 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in 2010.
9. Shonn Greene: New York Jets
After the Jets released 1,400-yard rusher Thomas Jones, all I was thinking was, man, the Jets must have high expectations for Shonn Greene.
During the postseason, Greene really took the load and proved he had what it takes to be the starter. I expect Greene to have a lot of rushing yards in the first four games, as that's when Santonio Holmes will serve his suspension. Plus, the Jets will likely go run first, pass second again this year.
I expect good things and Jets fans should be excited about this guy. I expect over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
8. Ray Rice: Baltimore Ravens
Yes, I know what a lot of people are thinking right now: "Ray Rice should be higher on this list!", and I'll tell you why he's not.
With the Ravens' acquisition of Anquan Boldin and the rise of quarterback Joe Flacco, they're likely to go from a power-running team to a more pass-happy offense. That means less rushing yards for Ray Rice and more passing yards for Joe Flacco.
I still expect Ray Rice to have a great season in 2010. I think he'll end up with a healthy yards-per-carry average and at least 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns.
7. Jonathan Stewart: Carolina Panthers
In case of any of you are wondering: I did not put DeAngelo Williams on this list because Williams always seems to be injured, is a year older, and Jonathan Stewart will become the feature back.
Stewart really showed what he can do while Williams was injured in 2009, rushing for over 1,100 yards and double-digit touchdowns. I expect a Pro-Bowl effort from J-Stew in 2010.
6. Rashard Mendenhall: Pittsburgh Steelers
With the the six game suspension of so called "franchise quarterback" Ben Roethlisberger, I think the Steelers will definitely be a running team in 2010.
Mendenhall surprised people in 2009 after an injury-plagued rookie season in 2008, as he managed over 1,000 yards on the ground. With the loss of Santonio Holmes and the age concerns of Hines Ward, the Steelers don't have as much to work with that they used to. They'll give it to Mendenhall a lot more, and I expect big things from him in 2010.
5. Steven Jackson: St. Louis Rams
With the Rams picking Sam Bradford first overall, I expect Bradford to be scared to death his first few games and hand off to Steven Jackson a lot.
Steven Jackson was one of the more underrated running backs in 2009 and crept his way up, finishing second in the NFL in rushing. I think Jackson will finish in the top 10 in rushing yards simply because he will be Bradford's best friend for the season.
4. Jamaal Charles: Kansas City Chiefs
After the release of Larry Johnson in week eight of the 2009 season, Chiefs fans wondered how long it would take to find someone as good as Larry Johnson during his good years.
It didn't take long at all. The Chiefs inserted Jamaal Charles as starter and he had 1,004 yards rushing over the last eight games of the 2009 season and averaged 5.9 yards-per-carry. Charles will team up with Thomas Jones for a double-trouble running attack in 2010, but it's likely Charles will carry most of the load.
He put on an encore performance in the final game of the 2009 season with 259 rushing yards and two touchdowns. I expect big things from Charles in 2010 and he should make his first Pro-Bowl.
3. Adrian Peterson: Minnesota Vikings
I am sure you're thinking, "Wow, Peterson isn't No. 1 or No. 2 on this list?", and its because Adrian Peterson won't be as good as he has been in the past few years.
The Vikings need to stop relying on Peterson so much. They have other weapons and one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Brett Favre (who I think will return), two Pro-Bowl receivers, and a new rookie running back to work with in Toby Gerhart.
Peterson is still elite, he just isn't the best. I expect, of course, another Pro-Bowl from Peterson in 2010, but he needs to learn how to hold the ball!
2. Maurice Jones-Drew: Jacksonville Jaguars
With an outstanding season in 2009, Maurice Jones-Drew was the Jaguars' entire team, basically, finishing with 15 rushing touchdowns and over 1,300 yards.
The Jaguars don't really have anything to work with, which is probably why Jones-Drew is so good. I think he'll have be better in 2010 than he was in 2009, and that's saying a lot.
Jones-Drew will have over 1,500 yards rushing and double-digit touchdowns in 2010. It also says a lot to put Jones-Drew this high on this list, but he is definitely on the rise.
1. Chris Johnson: Tennessee Titans
Yes, Chris Johnson is the best. He plays like the best, he knows he's the best, and he is cocky about being the best.
Johnson will be the best running back to watch in 2010 for obvious reasons. He had 2000 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns. Johnson is one of the most electrifying players in the NFL and probably the fastest.
I think Johnson will have another All-Pro season this year, but the question is: Can Chris Johnson have 2000 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons?