NFL power rankings: Top 5 running backs in the NFC

Deshaun Watson update: Either Falcons or Saints?

In the latest NFL power rankings, we take a crack at which five NFC running backs will be best in the 2022 season.

5. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

This is a projection with Akers, considering we could have gone a variety fo different directions including Ezekiel Elliott, David Montgomery, James Conner, etc. However, Akers is going to be on a dynamic offense and when he’s healthy, he has the look of a Pro Bowler. In his rookie season of 2020, Akers ran for 625 yards and two touchdowns on 4.3 yards per carry. Not incredible, but solid and promising before a torn Achilles wiped away 2021. A big swing here? Yes, but worth it.

4. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders

Gibson should be in line to run the ball plenty with Carson Wentz at the helm in Washington. Yes, the Commanders have star receiver Terry McLaurin and rookie Jahar Dotson, but Wentz is at his best when he’s playing point man, not dominating the game. Last year, Gibson cracked the 1,000-yard plateau and remains one of the better pass-catching backs in the game, totaling 78 receptions for 541 yards over his first two seasons.

3. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

Cook has been one of the league’s best running backs since coming into the NFL, and he led the NFC in rushing yardage last season with 1,159 yards to go with six touchdowns on 4.7 yards per carry. The Vikings should be improved offensively with the addition of former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell as their head coach. Perhaps this means fewer carries for Cook, but it should also mean lightened boxes. Entering his sixth NFL season, Cook remains in his prime.

2. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Much of Kamara’s ranking here depends on whether he gets suspended for the first six games of the regular season. However, since no ban has come down, he remains second on the list. Kamara is one of the best all-around back in the game, totaling 7,501 yards from scrimmage over his first five seasons — all Pro Bowl appearances — in the league.  New Orleans will rely heavily on him once more as the offense tries to limit quarterback Jameis Winston’s mistakes through the air.

1. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers

McCaffrey’s stock is only limited by his body. Unfortunately, his body has broken down each of the past two seasons, limiting him to 10 games. However, when right, McCaffrey is inarguably the best running back the sport can offer. In 2019, McCaffrey won Offensive Player of the Year, going for 1,387 rushing yards and 1,005 receiving yards with 19 total touchdowns. He’s in a class of his own when on the field.

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Author: Lucas Carlson