Jerome Bettis (2015), Terrell Davis (2017), Edgerrin James (2020), Curtis Martin (2012), LaDainian Tomlinson (2017).
Running Backs: Jerome Bettis (2015), Terrell Davis (2017), Edgerrin James (2020), Curtis Martin (2012), LaDainian Tomlinson (2017).
With no Running Backs entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class in 2021, this is the second straight year that the Modern Positional Average for Running Backs remain unchanged. These are lofty numbers by the last five but it will likely rise when Davis is no longer among the last five RBs inducted.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #4. 2020 Pre-Season Rank #4
Peterson is likely a first-ballot inductee right now, and the question now is whether or not he will have the opportunity to continue his career in 2022. He was largely ineffective with only 38 combined Rushing Yards in four combined Games with Tennessee and Seattle and an off-field issue does him no favor in employment opportunities, but he is fifth all-time in Rushing Yards and is a former MVP. This should be more than enough for induction.
2021 Pre-Seasn Rank #48, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #66.
Wow! With the exception of the unlikely-to-return Adiran Peterson, Alvin Kamara enters 2022 as our highest ranked Running Back, and he did this without a single 1,000 Rushing Yard season. Of course, we know that Kamara is an incredible dual-threat Back, who has over 7,500 Yards From Scrimmage and 71 Touchdowns. On a five-year Pro Bowl streak, Kamara is New Orleans' MVP, and his .8767 AV/G is well over the MPA. With his huge work load, a burnout for Kamara could be in the future.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #53, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #55.
Six years into his career, Elliott is a two-time rushing leader, who has been second in Yards From Scrimmage three times, but while that was not ll that long ago, it feels like "Zeke" has dropped to the second level and may not be able to climb back to elite status. We have seen Running Backs fall into this pattern before and if he can't reach that level again, even for one year, it will be difficult to get into the Hall.
2021 Pre-Season Ranl #70, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #108.
In 2019, it felt like Derrick Henry won the Rushing Title out of nowhere, as he was in his fourth year, and it he only had 1,059 Yards the year before. In 2020, Henry won his second Rushing Title, shattering his previous mark, and joined the 2,000 Yard Rushing club and winning the Offensive Player of the Year. Had he not gotten injured during the 2021 season, Henry was on his way to his second straight OPOY, and we will see how he bounces back this year.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #76, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #81.
McCaffrey had a decent rookie year, a good second year, and a fantastic third season, where he led the NFL in Yards From Scrimmage (2,392) and Touchdowns (19). The Running Back also rushed for over 1,000 Yards and caught passes over 1,000 Yards, a rare feat indeed! Due to injury, he could not follow up on that over the last two years, but if he is healthy over the next few years, couldn’t we see him easily getting right back on track? He has already hit the MPA for Receiving Touchdowns, Receiving Yards, and currently has a higher AV/G than the MPA.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #65, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #48.
This is what we wrote three years ago:
“After sitting out all of last year due to a contract dispute, Bell debuts for the Jets this year. If he has no rust in 2019, he is set to vault up this list especially if he stays near his current AV/G.”
This is what we wrote two years ago:
“Bell’s first year with the Jets saw him rush for only 789 Yards, and he was not the dominating force he was before. His AV/G plummeted from 0.9677 to 0.8442, and while that is still positioned above the MPA, it is bad. Bell can turn it around, but if he doesn’t, he has a “Hall of Very Good” entry looking at him instead.”
Oh boy. Bell may have flushed his Hall of Fame chances down the toilet with a 328 Yard campaign in 2020 where he asked to leave the Jets, landed in Kansas City, where he did little of note, except for trashing future Hall of Fame Coach, Andy Reid. He was lucky to get another chance in 2021 but was ineffective in eight combined Games with Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Bell was one of the best at one time, but the road looks closed, and we don't see him playing again. Too bad, as we love people who bet on themselves.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #117.
Cook is closing in on 5,000 Rushing Yards, and has an AV/G over the MPA, though he is only a five-year vet. Nevertheless, should he keep adding Pro Bowls (he now has three straight), Cook will be in the conversation.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #88, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #86.
We argued last year that Ingram’s path to Canton would have to be as a compiler, but time is running out for Ingram, who is now the all-time rushing leader for the New Orleans Saints. The former Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion at Alabama should break 10,000 Yards From Scrimmage this season.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #102, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #130.
Gordon is a seven-year vet and has been in that second tier of Running Backs since he arrived. A two-time Pro Bowl Selection, Gordon has to reach another level for him to gain any real Hall of Fame traction.
2021 Pre-Season Rank Unranked
After a good rookie year, Taylor exploded, leading the NFL in Rushing Yards (1,811) and Rushing Touchdowns (18), and you need a year like this to place you on the tips of tongues of Hall of Fame voters. As only a tw-year veteran, he obviously isn't there, but a player without a domininant best-at-his-position year faces an uphill climb. Taylor already has it under his belt.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #140.
Chubb emerged as the top rusher for an improving Browns offense, and he has been a Pro Bowl Selection the last three seasons. The hard-luck Cleveland franchise will need every bit of Nick Chubb to have any shot at contending this year.
Last Year’s Rank #127.
Jones has played all five of his years in Green Bay, and he has exceeded 1,000 Yards in 2019 and 2020, though failed to do so in 2021. The Packers will depend on him more in 2022 with Davante Adams now a Las Vegas Raider.
2021 Pre-Season Rank #101, 2020 Pre-Season Rank #100.
Barkley was the stud that we expected him to be as a rookie, earning a Pro Bowl and leading the NFL in Yards From Scrimmage. His output dropped as a sophomore, but was still strong, and there was no reason to think that he couldn’t dominate in 2020, but a torn ACL early took that away. Barkley started 2021 on the IR, and when Running Backs get hurt, they struggle to regain top form more than other position players. Let's see what he has in 2022, as he needs a great year just to get back where he was three years ago.
2021 Pre-Season Rank Unranked
Mixon entered the NFL in 2017 after a controversial career at Oklahoma and in his fifth year, he went to his first Pro Bowl with his third 1,000-Yard rushing year and first with 1,500 Yards From Scrimagge campaign.