Top 10 running backs entering Week 13

Doug Martin tops our list as the highest-graded running back entering Week 13. See who rounds out the top 10.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Top 10 running backs entering Week 13

With the season entering the final quarter of the year, we break down the top 10 running backs RBs as ranked by PFF’s grading system. A running back’s ability to positively impact a game depends on numerous factors, some of which are out of the player’s control (e.g. offensive line play).

Thus, while a running back like Chris Johnson (41.9) may be fourth in the league in rushing, it’s his offensive line play, rather than his running ability (44.9), that has propelled him to such productivity levels.

Additionally, many of the ways in which a running back impacts a game go unnoticed by spectators (e.g. pass protection), but are very important to an offense’s success. Therefore, while Adrian Peterson (77.8) has had a very productive comeback season in terms of yardage, leading the league in rushing, he has struggled as a pass blocker (44.1) and receiver (51.2). That, coupled with his league-leading six fumbles, has him further down the list (17th) than his yardage would suggest.

(Editor’s note: Due to his season-ending injury in Week 8, we have removed Le’Veon Bell from this list. Through six weeks of play, Bell’s performance was enough to earn the top spot for the season in our RB grades thus far, with an overall grade of 94.0).

1. Doug Martin (90.9), Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What a comeback year it has been for Martin, who currently leads all RBs with a 3.5 yards per carry average after contact, an 84.7 elusive rating, and a 47.9 breakaway percentage. His 5.1 yards per carry average is the highest amongst runners with at least 125 carries.

2. Marshawn Lynch (90.1), Seattle Seahawks

Lynch has endured a season full of injuries (he’s likely to miss a few more weeks following surgery to mend a lingering groin injury) and poor offensive line play, but he’s posted the second-best elusive rating among qualifying RBs (79.0), forcing 37 missed tackles on 124 total touches. He is currently in his third-straight year as a top-three NFL RB.

3. Devonta Freeman (86.1), Atlanta Falcons

Injuries seem to be a common theme for our top RBs this time of year, though Devonta Freeman is expected to return to action in Week 13. Freeman, 2015’s fantasy football superstar, has been just as good at the real thing, turning 167 carries into 764 (4.6 yards/carry) yards, with 13 runs of 15 yards or more, and nine touchdowns (which leads the NFL at the position). He’s also posted the fifth-best receiving grade (92.4) among RBs.

4. Chris Ivory (83.6), New York Jets

Ivory, under the radar for years, is finally starting to gain the attention he deserves. He is fourth among RBs in missed tackles forced on runs (33), and third with 13 runs of 15 yards or more, helping give him the ninth-best rushing grade among RBs (80.7).

5. DeAngelo Williams (83.5), Pittsburgh Steelers

Williams’ revival couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for the injury-plagued Steelers. He has the best PFF grade among RBs in the weeks where Bell has been suspended or injured (Weeks 1-2, 9-12). Williams hasn’t allowed a pressure in 31 pass blocking snaps, which makes him one of two qualifying RBs with a perfect pass blocking efficiency.


6. Jonathan Stewart (82.2), Carolina Panthers

Not unlike his former teammate, Williams, Stewart is on a comeback trajectory that has him on pace for his second-career 1,000-yard season for the undefeated Panthers. He is second among RBs with 45 missed tackles forced on rushes, good for an elusive rating of 51.1, third-best among RBs with more than 150 carries.

7. Lamar Miller (81.7), Miami Dolphins

Miller boasts the highest pass-blocking grade (83.4) among RBs, allowing just two total pressures on 53 pass-blocking snaps. Also, he ranks seventh among RBs with 3.0 yards per carry after contact.

8. T.J. Yeldon (81.1), Jacksonville Jaguars

The rookie has been a bell cow for the young Jaguars, with 557 more snaps than his team’s next-closest RB. He has forced 27 missed tackles on rushes and nine missed tackles on receptions, good for a 43.9 elusive rating, which is second among RBs with more than 150 carries and 30 receptions.

9. Antonio Andrews (81.0), Tennessee Titans

After failing to register a carry all last season, Andrews has emerged as the lead back for the Titans. He has posted a positive grade in all but one game, breaking tackles on 12 of his 110 carries, and four of his 12 receptions (on 15 targets). Andrews has yet to fumble this season, while allowing only one pressure on 38 pass-blocking snaps, good for third among qualifying RBs.

10. Todd Gurley (80.2), St. Louis Rams

Possibly the more heralded rookie back than Yeldon, Gurley has created quite the stir in his first-year campaign. In only nine game appearances this season, he has the seventh-most yards after contact in the league (442), and the fifth-most rushing TDs (six). He also owns the second-highest breakaway percentage among backs this season, behind only Doug Martin.

| Analyst

Eric Eager joined Pro Football Focus in 2015. He is currently working on a number of analytics projects, primarily focused on the NFL.

  • Yeet

    No AP…

  • JudoPrince

    Excluding pass protection and receiving, I want to know who the best pure RB is in terms of carries. Is it AP?

    • poxford

      Debatable. One thing’s for sure, with his fumbles he’d be a backup, at best, with the Patriots.

      • DoubtingTom

        For BB? Practice squad. Maybe.

  • Marcus Johnson

    Lamar miller is on here for blocking lol…I always thought PFF was not good at grading backs..

  • Luke Thompson

    To be clear, this rating system is saying the Vikings would be a better team through the first 12 weeks of the season with any of the 16 backs ahead of Adrian. This is ridiculous on many levels and you need to recreate your grading criteria. How many other RB’s can handle the load Adrian is given on the team with the second highest rushing play percentage? Carolina is number one and that’s because Cam is their best rusher. Teams have to commit edge defenders to Cam instead of scrapping down the line and yet Stewart still only averages 3.9 yards a carry. Yet he’s on this list at #6? He has 54 receiving yards. If he’s that good in pass pro he needs to be playing LT. Seattle is next in rushing percentage and you have the wrong RB of theirs on this list. Lynch has 3.8 yards a carry and 80 receiving yards. He’s second? Good grief. Again, he needs to play LT apparently. Runs vs. 8+ men boxes, analysis of opponents game-plans (how much does a player change the other teams defense ex: forces the team to play with a single high safety), amount of teams total yardage and usage percentage, all these are factors you are missing out on. The Vikings lead the league in games won with under 200 passing yards (6). You think we would have won those six games with another running back? Doug Martin is the only possible exception. Any other RB and the Vikings have a worse record. That in and of itself needs to show how you need to change your criteria. A player needs to be graded on how many wins he adds to a team.

    • Anthony Watson

      I was going to write my own comment on how ridiculous this is (and we, as football fans with half a brain need to realize it’s lack of value), but Luke I honestly couldn’t put it into better words. I have to say, your LT comments on Stewart and Lynch were the best thing I gained from clicking on this link.

    • Teddy Ritz

      Your defense is winning you games.

      AP leads the league in fumbles which hurts him a lot.

  • Mike Weisel

    You need to rename this top 10 GRADED running backs. That way we won’t get the where is AP comments. Because if its top 10 running backs, by replacement or by value or any other means this list is garbage.

  • walker8084

    Maybe the Vikes can ship AP and a 2nd round pick for the superior Antonio Andrews.

  • thewhiz12

    To help the where’s AP dilemma. As they said in the article, they are grading all-around. The all-around running backs will be ranked higher. From a purely rushing standpoint AP is ranked 5th, and if you remove Le’Veon Bell, AP even moves up to 4th. Where he should be with a player with 6 fumbles, but also leads the league in rushing yards.

  • Scott

    Rawls was rated the better RB by FO long before going into week 12. Lynch is nowhere near the RB Rawls is this season. Sad, but true. I am shocked to see PFF rating Lynch so highly after he’s had such an off season and then not rating Rawls at all after he’s had a phenomenal season.

    • David Stinnett

      Rawls in previous weeks has been nominated Fed Ex Ground player of the week and Rookie of the week. Both were no brainers. He has won nothing. Popularity contest

  • Craig W

    I am really starting to lose respect for this site. They had Bridgewater and Diggs in the top 10 for the majority of the season and just now dropped out. Yet somehow, no mention of AP here or in the MVP article. Think the Vikes are 8-3 with out the HOF RB? AP once again is going to carry the team to the playoffs.

    • RDF

      Meanwhile I’m losing respect for AP. He’s losing me a lot of money with those fumbles. I wonder if he’ll manage to lose a playoff game for the Vikes with one. Knowing Vikings history, I’d say yes. (Or will it be Kyle “Oops” Rudolph, who got very lucky that he didn’t fumble on his big TD catch recently.)

    • whatguythatguy

      Hard to believe that Bridgewater was ever in the Top 10 this year. He’s been really mediocre for much of this season. AP has carried that offense.

  • MacLane

    Lamar Miller is the most over rated running back on this site..Boom or Bust