7 Paths to Climbing the Running Back Depth Chart

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1. Bell Cows Hold Down the Fort

Most backfields in today’s NFL contain mixtures of role-specific talents at the running back position that are frequently shuffled throughout the gameday lineup to provide situational usage. However, a few rare bell-cow backs still exist. Le'Veon Bell played over 85% of Pittsburgh’s offensive snaps in 2017, and that includes sitting in Week 17 for rest. Bell led Steelers backs in PPR scoring 15 out of 16 weeks.

PlayerTeamNumber of Top-Scoring Weeks
Le'Veon BellSteelers15
Todd GurleyRams15
LeSean McCoyBills14
Melvin GordonChargers13
Carlos Hyde49ers13

For these five players, they were Week 1 starters who held onto the primary role in the running back rotation all season. They inherited their job from the previous year and, between talent and opportunity, they proved to be the clear lead option throughout the whole season.

Lesson: Perhaps just as important as talent itself is the talent differential between a primary back and his competition. Todd Gurley and Carlos Hyde were safer than most realized entering the season because they were superior options to their respective teammates.