In the current NFL climate it's uncommon to see a team with a single workhorse running back and an increasing number of teams giving plenty of touches to two, or even three RB's every week. In light of this, I've decided to rank my top 10 running back duos for the upcoming season. One thing to note is that these rankings are based on the talent and production of the top two runners on each team's depth chart, so that's why you won't be seeing top running backs such as David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliot at the top of this list.
10. Dalvin Cook and Latvius Murray (Minnesota Vikings)
9. Leonard Fournette and Chris Ivory (Jacksonville Jaguars)
8. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles (Denver Broncos)
7. Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden (Dallas Cowboys)
6. David Johnson and Andre Ellington (Arizona Cardinals)
5. Le'Veon Bell and James Conner (Pittsburgh Steelers)
4. Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard (Cincinnati Bengals)
3. Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson (New Orleans Saints)
If I was writing this article a couple of years ago, there's no doubt in my mind that the RB pair of Ingram and Peterson would be a strong bet for the number one spot on this list and, despite their combined age being a ripe old 59, the two veterans still make the Top 3 in my eyes.
Believe it or not, it was less than 18 months ago that Adrian Peterson finished the 2015 season as the leading rusher and on top of that, Mark Ingram is coming off an 1,000 yard season in 2016. However, despite the unquestionable talent of the Saints' duo, AP's age and injury history prevents them for challenging for the top spot on the list this year. Peterson is 32 years old and it's not often you see a 30+ year old running back put up top numbers, but the former Viking has a habit of defying the odds. In addition to this, Peterson missed 13 games last year due to a knee injury so how well he will bounce back from this injury is still yet to be seen.
Taking everything into account, I think that both Ingram and Peterson will have productive seasons and think they have a chance for combining for 1,500 yards in 2017.
2. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)
In the 2016 offseason the Tennessee Titans made it clear that their intention was to run the ball hard by trading for 2014 rushing leader DeMarco Murray from the Eagles and drafting 2015 Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, and run the ball hard was exactly what they did. Murray rushed for over 1,200 yards in 2016 while Henry rushed for 490 yards, boasting an impressive 4.5 yards per carry as the Titans narrowly missed out on the AFC South title.
Few backs have been as impressive as Murray over the last few years with the 29 year old finding himself in the top 10 for rushing yards three times in the last four seasons and in the top 3 twice.
Henry however, showed great promise despite his limited carries and proved he had a nose for finding the end zone as he scored 5 rushing touchdowns in 2016.
With Derrick Henry still improving and DeMarco Murray showing no signs of declining, I wouldn't be surprised if the Titans duo had 2,000 rushing yards between them come the end of the 2017 season.
1. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons)
Despite the Falcons' dynamic running back duo having 178 rushing yards less than there counterparts in Tennessee, Freeman and Coleman had 369 more receiving yards than Murray and Henry in 2016 and it's their ability in the passing game that gives them the edge and, in this instance, the top spot on my list. This past season the Atlanta offence was electrifying as they played their way to the NFC title and the running backs had a large part to play in the team's success.
Freeman posted over 1,000 rushing yards for the second consecutive season in 2016 as well as having over 3,000 combined yards over the last two years, cementing himself as one of the league's elite RB's.
Coleman also had an impressive year in 2016 as he rushed for 520 yards and 8 touchdowns from only 118 carries as well as having 421 receiving yards and 3 receiving touchdowns from just 31 catches, an average of 13.6 yards per reception.
Despite Kyle Shanahan leaving the Falcons for the 49ers this summer, I see Freeman and Coleman continuing to thrive in Atlanta and becoming the most feared running back duo in football.
Future article date: December 31st 2017
Coming into tonight's game, the Chiefs new they were in control of their own destiny and one game away from making the playoffs for the third straight season. The Chargers tied up the division last week with their 36-10 win over the Jets at the MetLife Stadium and denied Kansas City from retaining their crown, leaving the wildcard route the only way into January football for Coach Reid and his players.
Despite the records of the Chiefs and Raiders being tied at 8-7, KC were sitting second in the AFC West due to their superior head-to-head record, meaning a win over the Broncos in Denver would guarantee them a spot in the playoffs, even if Oakland managed to win in LA against the Chargers.
As expected, the game was close throughout with neither team up by more than a touchdown at any point in the game. The Chiefs had the edge at half time leading 13-10 thanks to two Cairo Santos field goals and a 6 yard rushing touchdown by Alex Smith, however the Broncos scored on their first possession of the second half after a 85 yard drive was finished off by Jamaal Charles diving for the pylon. Field goals were then exchanged and as the 3rd quarter came to an end, the score was 16-20 in favour of Denver.
Try as they might, neither team could get a point on the board in the fourth and the score remained the same at the two minute warning. The Broncos then tried their best to run out the clock and would have been successful if not for a huge tackle for loss by Justin Houston on 3rd & 4. With no timeouts remaining for the Chiefs, the Broncos could use up all the time on the play clock before punting the ball away. With Tyreek Hill back waiting to receive the it, Broncos punter Ryan Dixon cleverly kicked the ball out of bounds at the Chiefs 27 yard line.
As the men in red jogged onto the field there was only 4 seconds left on the game clock, it was Hail Mary time. With 73 yards between the Chiefs and the playoffs, Andy Reid new he had to take a huge risk. Out ran Pat Mahomes. This was the first time the rookie had seen an NFL field but all he had to do was catch the snap and use his incredible arm strength to launch the ball towards the end zone, and he did just that. With the season on the line, Mahomes threw the ball high in the direction of the crowd of players arriving in the end zone and, as eight men jumped, one rose higher then there others and grabbed the football out of the air before hitting the ground. TOUCHDOWN CHIEFS, CHRIS CONLEY! The bench stormed the field and Mahomes was mobbed by his teammates and rightly so. Pat's first ever NFL pass was a 73 yard touchdown that took the Chiefs to the playoffs.
Final AFC West Standings:
Los Angeles Chargers (10-6)
Kansas City Chiefs (9-7)
Oakland Raiders (9-7)
Denver Broncos (6-10)
It's nearly that time of year, fantasy season is drawing closer. The mock draft rooms are starting to fill and the analysts and experts are releasing their Top 100 player lists. Although I'm not confident enough to release a full list of my own just yet, I will give you five players I think are being rated too highly at their position for the forthcoming season.
All rankings are taken from fantasypros.com's position rankings for PPR scoring.
Lamar Miller - Houston Texans
Miller was my second round pick last year in fantasy football and he disappointed me all season with his mediocrity. The Texan finished 18th amongst running backs in standard scoring leagues in his first season in Houston and only slightly higher in PPR scoring, not the the top 10 season many were expecting. Despite this, many have Miller ranked as a low end RB1 once again and I can't see why.
Last year Miller proved that he couldn't be a workhorse in the backfield as the large volume of carries caused him to lose his big play ability and pick up little injuries throughout the season. In addition to this, the Texans drafted D'Onta Foreman in the third round of the draft, a big back who is likely to take away some of Miller's carries on short yardage and potential touchdown plays.
To make matters worse, with the QB situation in Houston as it is, opposing teams are likely to stack the box and force either Savage or Watson to throw the ball, again hurting Miller's fantasy stock.
I can't see Miller being any higher than 18th again this year and I wouldn't be surprised if he fell out of the top 20 altogether.
Keenan Allen - LA Chargers
I don't have the best history with Keenan Allen either. I took him 11th overall in my main fantasy draft last year before watching him go down with an injury within the first half of the first game of the 2016 season. Although it's hard to shake such a harrowing memory from my mind, I have tried to leave it out of my decision making when it has come to my player rankings. However, injuries is the main reason I feel Allen won't have as good a season as many are expecting.
Over the last two seasons, the Chargers wideout has only played 9 games out of a possible 32 and he's only 25 years old. When fit, there is no doubt that Allen can be a highly productive fantasy player but his injury history alone is enough to scare me away for drafting him anywhere near to his ADP of Round 3.
On top of this, when Allen went down, Tyrell Williams stepped up and proved himself as solid a solid target for Rivers, as did Dontrelle Inman. The Chargers also drafted Mike Williams 7th overall to add to the list of pass catchers in LA that also includes the TE's Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates as well as the previously mentioned receivers.
For me, the combination of injury worries and the fact they are so many mouths for Rivers to feed sees Allen being a low WR2 in 2017.
Mark Ingram - New Orleans Saints
Poor Mark Ingram. When Tim Hightower left for the West Coast in the offseason it looked like Ingram was going to be a three down back for New Orleans but just over a month later, things don't look bright at all for the Saints running back.
Firstly, the Saints made the move to secure the services of veteran RB Adrian Peterson in free agency and I don't think AP would have gone to New Orleans unless the staff had promised him a reasonably large role in the offence. Because of this, I can't see Ingram getting anymore than 50% of the carries this season.
But just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse, the Saints then drafted Alvin Kamara in the third round, a pass catching back. All this leaves Ingram splitting carries on the ground with Peterson and losing opportunities in the passing game to Kamara.
I think Ingram's only hope is that Peterson's age plays a factor and the ex-Viking picks up an injury early on in the season. Barring that, I can't see Ingram being inside the top 25 scoring fantasy running backs at the end of the season.
Brandin Cooks - New England Patriots
I'm going to keep it short and simple with Cooks. I just can't see Brady throwing him the ball that often. The way the Patriots offence tends to work means that no single player gets a huge amount of targets and the ball is shared around (and there's lots of people Cooks has to share with).
Looking at both the style and amount of running backs on the roster in New England leads me to believe that Brady will continue to throw to RB's often throughout the season, taking targets away from the receivers in general. Also, I think Cooks is going to third in receptions behind both Gronk and Edelman leaving the ex-Saint in a position where he's not going to be touching the ball very often.
Despite the fact that Cooks has big play ability, the lack of volume will really affect his production and, much like Keenan Allen, I see him being a low end WR2 and I certainly won't be drafting him in the first 4 rounds of any fantasy draft this year.
Russel Wilson - Seattle Seahawks
In standard scoring leagues, Wilson finished 11th amongst QB's last year in fantasy football and I see it much more likely that we see a decline than a rise in 2017.
There are two main reasons behind my thinking. Firstly, the offensive line in Seattle wasn't great last year and I don't see it being any better this year. Yes they drafted Ethan Popic in the second round of the draft but I don't feel he's going to come in and make a big difference.
The second reason is that I think the Seahawks, especially their defence with Chancellor fit again, will be better in 2017 which should mean Wilson won't be needing to throw the ball as much at the end of the games like he did in 2016.
I really like Wilson as an NFL player but I don't like his fantasy football value for this coming season. I can't see him being an every week starter for your team but more as a solid backup or a plug in player when he has a favourable matchup.
There were four Quarterbacks drafted in the opening two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, three of which went in the top 13 picks. Although we haven't started the pre-season matches, or even training camp, it looks likely that none of the aspiring play callers will be the starter for their respective teams in Week one. But who will win the race and make it onto the field first?
Mitchell Trubisky - Chicago Bears
When Commissioner Goodell read out Trubisky's name as the third overall pick and revealed the Tarheel would be heading to Chicago, the NFL world went into a state of shock. Nobody, including Mr. Biscuit himself, had seen it coming and it was almost certainly the biggest talking point of the first round.
A large part of it being such a surprising move was the fact that, in free agency, the Bears had signed Mike Glennon to a rather large contract which includes $19 million guaranteed. Another main factor was that Trubisky, like all the other QB's in his class, wasn't that highly rated coming out of North Carolina and expert consensus was that he wasn't a top 10 prospect and would go at Pick 5 at the earliest (and even that would be a reach).
There's no doubt in my mind that the intention of the Bears is for Trubisky to sit for at least the whole of the 2017 season but history tells us this is not at all likely. My prediction is that Glennon will have lead the Bears to a 2-6 record before their bye in Week 9 and that this won't be deemed acceptable by the franchise. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we saw Trubisky out on Soldier Field against the Packers in Week 10.
Predicted first start: Week 10 (2017)
Patrick Mahomes II - Kansas City Chiefs
I'm going to be honest with you, I love the upside of Pat Mahomes. The problem is, he has a long way to go to reach that ceiling - the kid is raw.
The Chiefs however, seem to think they can get the best out of the gun slinger and were willing to trade up to Pick 10 in order to get him. I don't think Mahomes could have landed in a better spot as coach Andy Reid managed to get the best out of similar raw talents such as Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick, but he is definitely a long term project.
KC can afford to play the long game with developing Mahomes as current starting quarterback Alex Smith continues to be a solid player for the AFC West champions, but I don't think he quite has the ability to take them to a Superbowl. Because of this, I predict that the Chiefs, with Smith at the wheel, will finish with an 8-8 record in 2017 and narrowly miss out on a playoff spot. The following year, Mahomes shows he has developed the skills to start in the preseason and is first on the depth chart for the 2018 season opener.
Predicted first start: Week 1 (2018)
Deshaun Watson - Houston Texans
Most people felt Watson was the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft coming out of championship winning Clemson, so it was no surprise that Houston, a win now team, was where he ended up.
Watson proved he could perform on the big stage in college but the professional game is a completely different fish altogether. There are concerns about many of his physical attributes but perhaps his biggest issue is the fact that he doesn't seem to like to take care of the football. He threw 30 interceptions in his last two years at Clemson and in a league where turnovers decide games, if he can't learn to play smarter then Watson's career won't be long one.
One good thing going for Watson is that his competition for the Texans starting job is Tom Savage. Don't get me wrong, Savage isn't bad but he's not gonna set the world alight and take the Texans to the promise land. Despite this, I think he'll probably be good enough to start in Week 1 but my prediction is that after a 2-1 start, Savage limps off injured in the fourth quarter of the Week 4 divisional clash against the Titans and, after coming in late in the game and showing some promise, Watson gets the start in Week 5 against the Chiefs. Whether he proves good enough to keep the job when Savage returns from his injury I'm not sure, but he will have a chance.
Predicted first start: Week 5 (2017)
DeShone Kizer - Cleveland Browns
When this year's draft process was beginning many experts, including the well respected Mike Mayock, had Kizer as the best quarterback in the class but the longer time went on, the lower his stock seemed to drop. I do however, think that the Browns were clever to avoid the early QB rush and snag the Notre Dame prospect in the second round.
Kizer had a superb 2015 season for the Fighting Irish but after losing weapons such as Will Fuller at the end of the campaign, had a very disappointing Junior year in 2016. Kizer has a great frame and an impressive arm but there are real concerns about his ability to go through progressions as well his tendency to drop his eyes when under pressure, traits that don't translate well to the NFL.
I think the battle for the Browns starting job between Kessler and Kizer will be an interesting one this offseason but I believe Kessler's extra year of knowledge of the playbook will give him the edge. But like all Browns quarterbacks, Kessler will undoubtedly get injured and, sadly, I can't even see him finishing their first game against the hard hitting Steelers. Despite him not being ready, Coach Jackson will be forced to throw Kizer in against the Ravens in Week 2.
Predicted first start: Week 2 (2017)
DeShone Kizer - Cleveland Browns
Based purely on the situation and the fact that the Browns can't keep the same QB on the field for more than a couple of snaps, I believe Kizer will be the first rookie quarterback to start an NFL game.
Mowlem is a sports writer from Reading, United Kingdom. All articles are written by Reece Mowlem (unless stated otherwise).