Cleat Geeks

Pro Bowl Preview: Running Backs

 

The NFL Pro Bowl held January 31st in Hawaii is coming up quickly! In my series of articles I will breakdown each position of players, rank them according to who I’d want, and give you a couple guys that were snubbed.

There were six halfbacks and two fullbacks who were chosen to participate at the Pro Bowl this year. I will be bringing the halfbacks up from last-to-first in order of who I’d want on my team. My rankings will based on their performances from this season and not what they have accomplished in the past.

 

Halfbacks:

Jonathan Stewart:23-jonathan-stewart-rb-carolina-panthers_pg_600

Stewart was finally able to get the majority of the carries this season, and he played well. Unfortunately for him, he played on the same team as Cam Newton, so Stewart wasn’t getting as many goal line carries as he would elsewhere. He still was able to run for 989 yards and six touchdowns on a 4.1 YPC (Yards Per Carry) in 13 games. He also caught 16 balls for 99 yards and another touchdown. He did put the ball on the ground three times, but that doesn’t mean he lost all of them. Overall, he’s a solid running back, but he doesn’t offer a ton of upside.

 

LeSean McCoy:

Ranked one spot ahead of Stewart is LeSean McCoy who is the opposite kind of runner. McCoy is a shifty running back that unfortunately suffered multiple injuries this year causing him to play only 12 games. He finished the year with 895 yards and three touchdowns on the ground with a 4.4 YPC. McCoy also had 32 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns. 1,187 total yards in 12 games is pretty good, but he would have had more if he ran north-and-south a little more. He spends too much time looking for the big play instead of just taking a six or seven-yard gain.

 

Devonta Freeman:1414336245215_wps_45_Atlanta_Falcons_running_b

One of the biggest surprises of the season was Devonta Freeman. He went through an eight-game stretch where he had 100+ total yards, a touchdown, or both in every game. It usually was both. He finished the season with 1,061 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 games. Freeman showed that he was a dual-threat by catching 73 passes for 578 yards and three more touchdowns! His first half of the season was much better than the second, but he definitely earned his playoff spot. Freeman is ranked #4 for me out of our six Pro Bowlers.

 

Doug Martin:

After back-to-back disappointing seasons, Martin had something to prove this year, and he did exactly that. Doug Martin finished second in the league for rushing yards with 1,402 with six touchdowns. His 4.9 YPC is the best out of the Pro Bowl backs, and it also is a career-best. Even though he was not the main receiving-back for his team, he also added 33 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown. He had a productive, balanced season that was his best since his rookie year.

 

Todd Gurley:Rams Packers Football(5)

The rookie only played 13 games, but he took full advantage of them. He finished the season with 1,106 yards and ten touchdowns with a 4.8 YPC. In the receiving game he added 21 catches for 188 yards. If you take his rushing stats projected over a 16-game season he would have finished with 1,361 yards with 12 or 13 touchdowns. He played this well against some very good run defenses, and he is on a terrible team. A team with basically no pass attack, so defenses could stack the box to try and stop Gurley. The keyword here is try. If he can be on a team with a respected pass game, he would be that much better.

 

Adrian Peterson:

Adrian-Peterson-TD_630x420

My number one choice has to be this year’s rushing champion. He lead the league with 1,485 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on a 4.5 YPC. AP also had 30 catches for 222 yards. There were many times where he sat out of full quarters because he was a little dinged up, or because the backups were in due to the score. If he was able to play in every quarter of the games he suited up for, the rushing yards would be much higher. His only downside was the fact that he put the ball on the ground seven times, which is way too much. Luckily he found a way to get back on top of some of them, so he didn’t lose them all. Even with the fumbling issue, AP is far and away the best running back in the league. His combination of speed and power make him a good fit for any team, and I would love for him to be on mine.

 

Who was snubbed?

Darren McFadden:

McFadden started the season playing behind Joseph Randle, but he eventually earned the starting job. He played 11 games this season with the full workload and ran for 960 yards and two touchdowns in that span. He also had 28 catches for 226 yards. If you project his rushing stats over 16 games he would have had 1,396 yards with a 4.75 YPC.

 

DeAngelo Williams:

He started the first two games of the season for the suspended Bell, and finished the season once Bell went down hurt. Williams played ten games where he was the starter or evenly split carries with Bell, excluding the final game when Williams left the game injured. During those ten games he had 864 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns with a 4.75 YPC. He added another 346 yards on 37 catches. If you project his stats in those ten games over a full season he would have finished with 1,382 rushing yards with 17 or 18 touchdowns to go along with another 553 receiving yards on 59 receptions. If that season isn’t good enough for a Pro Bowl selection, then I don’t know what is.

 

Fullbacks:

Mike Tolbert:

Tolbert has seen more snaps lately because of Stewart’s injury, but he was usually good for a couple touches a game. He finished the season with 265 rushing yards and a touchdown, but did most of his damage through the air with 18 catches for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Tolbert is a likable player that seems to make a good play when it counts, and that is why he was selected to the Pro Bowl.

 

Marcel Reece:

Reece of the Raiders had only 36 rushing yards this season, but he added 30 catches for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the receiving game. He clearly wasn’t a threat running the ball this season, but that didn’t stop him from making some plays.

 

Who was snubbed?

Kyle Juszczyk:

I’m not exactly sure why Juszczyk wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl, but I’m guessing it is because nobody wanted to pronounce his last name. He had a similar season to Reece, but he did it better. Juszczyk had only three rushing yards, but he also had 41 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns. His three rushing yards looks bad, but he only had two carries. The Ravens just don’t use him in that way. The third-year fullback is a very talented football player, and I would pick him out of the three fullbacks if I was given the choice.

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