NFL: Top 10 Running Backs This Season

Brandon ReiterCorrespondent IIOctober 18, 2011

NFL: Top 10 Running Backs This Season

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    This NFL season has seen great performances from a number of players. Having a successful running back is one of the keys to success for an NFL team. Running backs take harsh beatings and it would be cruel for their talent, and contributions, to go unnoticed.

    Some running backs are keeping their teams alive, or even atop the standings, while some are the only thing that fans can smile about. Nonetheless, I give you the top 10 NFL running backs of 2011.

10. Ray Rice

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    At 4-1 the Ravens have had a successful start to the season, largely thanks to their defense. 

    But, their offense has not been bad either. They have a balanced attack, using the young Joe Flacco to the best of his ability. 

    The ground game is led by Ray Rice, averaging 4.5 yards a carry, and almost 80 yards a game. He's had two touchdowns, and he has not coughed the ball up once. The ability for the Ravens to not rely on one side of their offense too heavily has been crucial to their success.

9. Ryan Matthews

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    Some are questioning the 4-1 start of the Chargers, saying they are worse than what their record shows. But what their record does show is that they have had success on offense. Their passing game is great with Rivers, but the Chargers rushing game has been a step up too. 

    Ryan Matthews is averaging almost 5 yards a carry, and about 83 yards a game. He's had three touchdowns and one fumble. With the loss of Sproles, Matthews has taken most of the load on the ground, and he has proven himself worthy.

8. Michael Turner

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    Matt Ryan hasn't been his usual self as of late, and the Falcons are struggling. Their defense has been mediocre, but Turner is still displaying his talent. 

    Turner is averaging about 4.5 yards a carry, and 83 yards a game. He is tied for second in the league with six touchdowns, and he only has one fumble. He has been keeping the falcons alive.

7. Matt Forte

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    The Bears have an absolutely horrendous offensive line. Cutler has been sacked more than any quarterback this year. With the struggles of the line, Forte has still had a successful season. 

    Forte is averaging 5.3 yards a carry, and about 88 yards a game. He hasn't fumbled, and he only has one touchdown, but he has broken for seven different 20-plus yard runs. There has been trade interest in Forte, but I don't see how the Bears can trade such a valuable piece to their offense, especially due to the fact that he accounts for 49.3 percent of it.

6. Maurice Jones-Drew

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    MJD has been having another successful year, averaging about 5 yards a carry, and 95 yards a game. He has two touchdowns and a fumble. 

    Despite his success, poor MJD plays on a team with nothing going on. They have pretty bad defense, and no passing game whatsoever. MJD has been the only thing Jaguars fans smile about for the past few years, and that is the same for 2011. 

5. Frank Gore

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    Yet another team that is being saved by the running game. The Niners defense has been outstanding, but with no Frank Gore it would be all for nothing. Alex Smith has been better this year, but still not good.

    When it rains, it Gores.

    Frank is averaging 5 yards a carry, and 90 yards a game. He has four touchdowns, and two fumbles. He is one of the most powerful running backs in the league, and he is leading this young team to a terrific season.

4. Adrian Peterson

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    Adrian has been the one reason to smile for Vikings fans. McNabb has been McBad, as the Vikings are second-to-last in passing yards a game. Christian Ponder will start this week, so nothing too promising is ahead in the Vikings future. 

    However, Peterson has been outstanding. He's averaging about 4.5 yards a carry, and 89.5 yards a game. He leads the league with seven touchdowns. Fumbles are usually a problem of Peterson, but he only has one this year.  

    In the terrible mess that is the Vikings season, Peterson is still showing his unique skill.

3. LeSean McCoy

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    Despite their unexpected 2-4 star, the Eagles offense has not been nearly as bad as their record indicates. Vick and McCoy combine for the most rushing yards a game in the league. 

    McCoy, in particular, is averaging 5.4 yards a carry, and about 95 yards a game. He has six touchdowns and no fumbles. 

    If McCoy keeps this up, and the defense wakes up, maybe the Eagles can climb into the playoffs, maybe. The dominant running game is giving the Eagles a pulse.

2. Darren McFadden

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    Until he broke his collar bone, Jason Campbell was having a Jason Campbell-like season, not horrendous, but not great. Despite an alright quarter back, the Raiders have been winning and are ninth in total offense. Why? Darren McFadden, that's why.

    McFadden leads the league with 610 rushing yards, and is tied for first with eight 20-plus yard carries. he's getting 5.7 yards a carry, and has only fumbled once. He has lighting fast speed, and great agility. 

1. Fred Jackson

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    Well, he's got my vote for MVP...If Aaron Rodgers has a season ending surgery. Still, Jackson has been a large reason for the Bills success this season. 

    The Bills defense is bad. But like the Patriots, their offense is making up for their defense. Fitzpatrick has been having a terrific year, and with this extraordinary running back, the Bills have been impressing.

    Jackson is second in the league with 601 rushing yards. He leads running backs with 5.7 yards a carry. He has six touchdowns, no fumbles, and eight 20-plus yard runs.

    Poor CJ Spiller is getting no time because of Jackson's success.