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Top 30 Running Backs of All Time
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MSURacerDT55


Joined: 05 Jan 2009
Posts: 7641
Location: 8 mile by way of St. Clair E.99
PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mse326 wrote:
Marion Motley is the most underrated player ever. Dude was a beast


Facts
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RabidPanther89


Joined: 14 Sep 2013
Posts: 533
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jagslover32 wrote:
Call me biased but Fred Taylor should be higher. Top 15 all time in yardage, and he missed over 60 games due to injury. 4.6 ypc as well.


I would agree. Definitely one of the most underrated players ever. I'd definitely take him over Edge and I'm not so sure Lynch is better.
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TENINCH


Joined: 29 Apr 2014
Posts: 6626
Location: ATL
PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1. Barry Sanders
2. Jim Brown
3. Walter Payton
4. Ladanian Tomlinson
5. Marshall Faulk
6. Emmitt Smith
7. Adrian Peterson
8. O.J Simpson
9. Eric Dickerson
10. Earl Campbell
11. Marcus Allen
12. Gale Sayers
13. Tony Dorsett
14. Thurman Thomas
15. Fred Taylor
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TheFinisher


Joined: 10 Mar 2010
Posts: 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:50 am    Post subject: Re: Top 30 Running Backs of All Time Reply with quote

mdonnelly21 wrote:
Peak/Prime/Longevity/Dominance/Accomplishments/Impact


1A. Barry Sanders
1B. Jim Brown (Lead league in rushing 8 out of 9 seasons. Also MVP 4/9)
3. Walter Payton
4. LT
5. Faulk
6. Emmitt Smith
7. Eric Dickerson
8. O.J Simpson
9. Earl Campbell
10. Adrian Peterson
11. Marcus Allen
12. Gale Sayers
13. Tony Dorsett
14. Curtis Martin
15. John Riggins
16. Thurman Thomas
17. Franco Harris
18. Jim Taylor
19. Terrell Davis
20. Priest Holmes
21. Shaun Alexander
22. Jerome Bettis
23. Edgerrin James
25. Tiki Barber
26. Marshawn Lynch
27. Roger Craig
28. Eddie George
29. Fred Taylor
30. Jim Thorpe

H/M Larry Csonka, Ricky Williams, Frank Gore, Ahman Green, Clinton Portis, Stephen Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Bo Jackson


Emmitt Smith is one of my all time favorite players, but I have a hard time seeing him listed in front of Dickerson, OJ and Campbell. I'd also say the same for Faulk and LT if we're doing this list based on what each guy was during his peak/prime.

Earl Campbell was a goddamn monster.
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TheFinisher


Joined: 10 Mar 2010
Posts: 110
PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uncle Buck wrote:
game3525 wrote:
Peterson is better then Campbell.


I don't know about that. As a Vikings fan, I love AD, but I'm also old enough to have seen Earl Campbell play, and he was incredible. He is probably #3 on my all-time list.


This, Campbell was the closest thing to what people believe Bo Jackson would have been had he not gotten injured. His raw power was the stuff of legend.
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LaserFocus


Joined: 12 Feb 2016
Posts: 135
PostPosted: Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RabidPanther89 wrote:
jagslover32 wrote:
Call me biased but Fred Taylor should be higher. Top 15 all time in yardage, and he missed over 60 games due to injury. 4.6 ypc as well.


I would agree. Definitely one of the most underrated players ever. I'd definitely take him over Edge and I'm not so sure Lynch is better.


Don't have time to research this issue, but I would assume most of the HOF RBs already enshrined finished higher than 15th in career yardage at the time of their retirement. Agree with Taylor being underrated, but his last three seasons were forgettable, and two of those were with NE, when he had opportunities with a SB contender.

Obviously, HOF backs like Dickerson and Campbell also faded near the end of their respective careers, but both players were more dominant. So a SB appearance isn't mandatory, just helpful. Taylor's only Pro Bowl occurred as an injury replacement. He's one of those players close to HOF quality, but the competition for those slots is difficult.

That said, I do see a scenario down the road, where rules changes help the passing game even more, and there is a major shortage of HOF RB candidates. At that time, the Veterans Committee would come into play.
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Aout


Joined: 09 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Serious question: What makes LT a better RB than AP (please don't give me that "AP can't catch the ball" crap)?

I feel like AP has done more, with a lot less.
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game3525


Joined: 03 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 21, 2017 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aout wrote:
Serious question: What makes LT a better RB than AP (please don't give me that "AP can't catch the ball" crap)?

I feel like AP has done more, with a lot less.
.

Then you didn't watch LT in 2002 and 2003.
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Beast M0de


Joined: 20 Oct 2008
Posts: 2222
Location: Chicago
PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:52 am    Post subject: Re: Top 30 Running Backs of All Time Reply with quote

TheFinisher wrote:
mdonnelly21 wrote:
Peak/Prime/Longevity/Dominance/Accomplishments/Impact


1A. Barry Sanders
1B. Jim Brown (Lead league in rushing 8 out of 9 seasons. Also MVP 4/9)
3. Walter Payton
4. LT
5. Faulk
6. Emmitt Smith
7. Eric Dickerson
8. O.J Simpson
9. Earl Campbell
10. Adrian Peterson
11. Marcus Allen
12. Gale Sayers
13. Tony Dorsett
14. Curtis Martin
15. John Riggins
16. Thurman Thomas
17. Franco Harris
18. Jim Taylor
19. Terrell Davis
20. Priest Holmes
21. Shaun Alexander
22. Jerome Bettis
23. Edgerrin James
25. Tiki Barber
26. Marshawn Lynch
27. Roger Craig
28. Eddie George
29. Fred Taylor
30. Jim Thorpe

H/M Larry Csonka, Ricky Williams, Frank Gore, Ahman Green, Clinton Portis, Stephen Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Bo Jackson


Emmitt Smith is one of my all time favorite players, but I have a hard time seeing him listed in front of Dickerson, OJ and Campbell. I'd also say the same for Faulk and LT if we're doing this list based on what each guy was during his peak/prime.

Earl Campbell was a goddamn monster.


Having a hard time seeing how Portis, Gore, Ahman Green, Marshawn Lynch, etc are all >>>> LeSean McCoy.I think Shady should be in HM with the chance to crack top 30 depending how he finishes his career.

If he goes over 1,000 yards this season he's over 10,000 yards on his career (29th to do so). Realistically he'll probably end up with near 12,000 rushing yards and only 15 RB's have ever done that. He's been a consistent force for as long as I can remember and is also producing.
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Bobikus


Joined: 07 Jun 2009
Posts: 9703
PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

game3525 wrote:
Aout wrote:
Serious question: What makes LT a better RB than AP (please don't give me that "AP can't catch the ball" crap)?

I feel like AP has done more, with a lot less.
.

Then you didn't watch LT in 2002 and 2003.


This. Also, AP can't catch the ball.

Also AP's health, suspension. LDT was in the league for 1 more year than AP has been so far and has 2k more rushing yards and 5k more yards from scrimmage and 60 more TDs to show for it.
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Frank-O


Joined: 20 Jun 2012
Posts: 2289
Location: Wisconsin - Cheeseland
PostPosted: Fri Jun 23, 2017 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

game3525 wrote:
1. Jim Brown
2. Walter Payton
3. Barry Sanders
4. Ladainian Tomlinson
5. Marshall Faulk
6. Emmitt Smith
7. Adrian Peterson
8. OJ Simpson
9. Eric Dickerson
10. Earl Campbell

I'd have to say... this is a pretty good list.
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Calvert28


Joined: 21 Oct 2006
Posts: 21637
PostPosted: Wed Jun 28, 2017 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Uncle Buck wrote:
game3525 wrote:
Peterson is better then Campbell.


I don't know about that. As a Vikings fan, I love AD, but I'm also old enough to have seen Earl Campbell play, and he was incredible. He is probably #3 on my all-time list.


Peterson is up there. But youre right.

When on the field there are only 2 other players I would rate with Campbell as a RB you would want on any given Sunday. His sheer athleticism, play, and overall effectiveness makes him almost unrivaled.
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GeneralDissaray wrote:
mozwanted wrote:
I don't agree with the pick.Bad teams pick rb's with a top 5 pick.
Moz, bad teams pick in the top 5.That's the way the draft works.
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sn0mm1s


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Posts: 2504
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Posted this a couple of years ago... only a top 20 list but meh.

I have written a lot on RB rankings over the years... I could probably cut and paste a dissertation on debunking Barry Sanders myths from my posts around the web. As with my other rankings I will almost never put a player #1 if the majority of their career was played prior to 1975. I am especially harsh in regards to this with RBs because they truly are trying to physically beat multiple players on nearly every rush. I am not as impressed with players that are compilers nor am I that impressed with YFS if large portion of that is routinely receiving yards. Surrounding talent means a lot as does how other runners on the same team performed. I don't factor in wins or rings with RBs (like I do with QBs) because I have yet to see a RB make a team a contender on his own. I am not a big fan of short yardage TDs because they are easy to get. I apologize in advance for the run on sentences and poor grammar... this is the internet.

1) Barry Sanders - easily the #1 for me. No player has done more with less. He averaged 5 YPC in the toughest era to run in judged by YPC. While he played the average non-QB rush (excluding Sanders) was under 4 YPC (I believe it was 3.8 or 3.9) and this is the lowest in NFL history among players with over 1800 career carries. He took the highest % of his team's non-QB carries (IIRC something around 86%). And, when I last checked, he was in the top 3 in % of team passes to RBs. He also scored the same % of non-QB rushing TDs for the Lions as Emmitt did for the Cowboys. All of those debunk the myths that he was pulled in passing downs, pulled in goal line situations, and pulled in 3rd downs. He also made the greatest impact as a rookie. The prior 4 years to Barry arriving on the Lions they were the worst rushing team in the NFL (all 4 of those years the Lions had Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover) he took them from literal worst in the NFL to first in the NFL in multiple categories. He played the majority of his career without a TE or FB and when he did finally get a standard offense all he did was rush for 2K yards averaging 6.1 YPC. He also had another season where he ran for 1800+ yards at a 5.7 YPC while non-QB league average was 3.7 YPC. He is also one of only 2 RBs in the HOF (the other being Floyd Little) that never played with another HOF and never played with a QB that got an AP or pro bowl nod.

2) Walter Payton - Another guy who did a lot with very little. He was a great runner and a good receiver. He also ran very hard for a guy that was only around 210.

3) Jim Brown - I think the era he played it was very weak compared to modern players. He makes it this far due to the fact that he was so dominant during his time - though some of the dominance was purely because he was taking 20 carries a game when 90% of the league was RBBC. Brown was really only competing against one *maybe* two other players in a season. Also, Bobby Mitchell, had a higher YPC and scored TDs at a greater rate while on the same team. He was also surrounded by HOFers (unlike the first 2 on the list).

4) Emmitt Smith - I think many underrate Smith (as with other RBs that played in the 1990s). The 1990s was a difficult decade to run in. Emmitt had an amazing peak and obviously his longevity is unmatched.

5) Tomlinson - I think the next 4 could be put in any order - but since I am forced to choose LT gets in at #5. I do think Marty liked padding his TD totals, but you still can't argue with the overall production of Tomlinson. Also, the reason LT gets the nod over the next 3 guys is the fact that he just didn't put the ball on the turf.

6) Eric Dickerson - probably the most underrated of the great RBs. His running ability is better than LT but he did fumble quite a bit more. I am not positive, but I don't think there is anyone that matches his first 4 years in the league. The guy was a monster.

7) OJ Simpson - yes, he killed people - probably - but he was awesome on the field. He was misused early in his career which hurts his career totals. He played in that sort of transitional period in the NFL so I knock him down a bit for that. However, his peak seasons really can't be matched.

Cool Marshall Faulk - Faulk has always been difficult for me to place. He was a borderline bust on the Colts (considering where he was drafted and what was expected out of him). He put up one of the worst rushing seasons ever at the age of 23 with RBs among RBs taking a similar number of carries (yes I know he had some toe issues). Faulk also got to play with some decent talent on the Colts. The Colts (not that recent history has shown the Colts know much about RBs) traded him for pennies if they really thought he was a HOFer. Edge came in as a rookie and had a better rushing season that Faulk ever had on the Colts. All that said, once he was in an offense that gave him space to work in he was unstoppable. His peak was so great that when most of us think of Faulk we think of the 3 healthy seasons he had for the Rams rather than the 4 he had on the Colts.

9) Earl Campbell - dominant for a short stretch. However, even though I am not a big proponent of YFS, the guy just didn't catch the ball. In fact, he never even scored a receiving TD his entire career.

10) Adrian Peterson - at one point I thought Peterson would break into the top 5 but I don't think so any longer. This past decade or so has been much easier to run in (judged by YPC) than previous decades so I am not as impressed with his 5.0 YPC in today's game that seems to focus on passing with running being an after thought.

11) Joe Perry - Imagine there was no Jim Brown. If there was no Jim Brown, Joe Perry would've held the all time rushing mark from 1955 to 1976 - over 20 years. Perry also had some amazing longevity considering the medical advancements during the time he played.

12) Thurman Thomas - Imagine there was no Marshall Faulk etc. etc. Thurman had an amazing 4 year stretch with the Bills. I am pretty sure he is the only RB that led the league in YFS for 4 straight years. It is unfortunate for his legacy that Faulk was putting up his crazy numbers right as Thurman was exiting the league. There was a time in the early 90s where if you asked: "Who is the best RB in the NFL?" most people would agree that the answer: "I don't know but he played for Ok St." was a correct one.

13) Franco Harris - was a key cog in the Steelers' dynasty when running the ball was the thing to do.

14) Corey Dillon - my controversial pick. I think, talentwise, Dillon is a HOFer. He played 7 years on a horrible Bengals team that never even managed a winning record but he rushed for over 1000 yards for his first 6 seasons and even broke Walter Payton's 20+ year old single game record against the #1 rushing D in the league at the time. He gets labeled a malcontent, goes to the Patriots, and when he finally has a decent team around him he sets career highs in both rushing and TDs at the age of 30. I am not sure how many RBs set career highs in both those stats over the age of 30 - but it can't be many. Surrounding talent can have a dramatic effect on RB production and I think Dillon got the short end of the stick during his prime and is still a top 20 all time rusher.

15) Curtis Martin - my gut tells me that Martin isn't a HOFer and that he was a compiler. Similar to Jerome Bettis, his career YPC is below league average for RBs while he played. However, if he is a compiler, then he is the greatest compiler the game has ever seen - and the guy just didn't fumble. He is the guy that is really hard for me to place.

16) Tony Dorsett - great player on great teams. He never really led the league in anything and that is a mark against him since he played on some good teams. He would be higher on my list if he didn't fumble as often as he scored.

17) Terrell Davis - I think the Bronco's system makes the RB look much better than he actually is. Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Droughns, and Portis all looked great in that Denver system. Portis, at the same point in their careers, actually looked better. Davis gets this position because there isn't a better post season runner ever - system or not. What the guy accomplished in the post season is nothing short of amazing.

1Cool Edgerrin James - A workhorse back that could both run and catch. It is unfortunate that he probably won't make the HOF.

19) Tiki Barber - Another underrated back that peaked basically as he was exiting the league. He had some great rushing and YFS seasons and, what many don't realize, is that aside from Barber the Giants were absolutely horrible at running the ball. I am pretty sure that compared to his teammates, Barber has one of the most significant improvement in YPC in the history of the NFL.

20) Gale Sayers - career is too short, no matter how good, for me to put him above the others.

-------- Those I left off:
Bettis - never led the league in anything, YPC was below league average for his career, for being a short yardage RB he rarely broke double digit TDs, was never considered one of the best in the league.
Allen - yes he had a good year or two - but playing like a 30 year old Tomlinson for a dozen years makes you a compiler in my book.
Bo Jackson - Couldn't stay healthy in college, couldn't stay healthy in the pros, got to come in midseason rested (comparatively), wasn't much of a receiver, Jamaal Charles had similar numbers at the same # of games in their careers IIRC and no one is putting Charles in their top 20 list (though he may deserve it more than Peterson in a few years)
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LaserFocus


Joined: 12 Feb 2016
Posts: 135
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sn0mm1s wrote:
Posted this a couple of years ago... only a top 20 list but meh.

I have written a lot on RB rankings over the years... I could probably cut and paste a dissertation on debunking Barry Sanders myths from my posts around the web. As with my other rankings I will almost never put a player #1 if the majority of their career was played prior to 1975. I am especially harsh in regards to this with RBs because they truly are trying to physically beat multiple players on nearly every rush. I am not as impressed with players that are compilers nor am I that impressed with YFS if large portion of that is routinely receiving yards. Surrounding talent means a lot as does how other runners on the same team performed. I don't factor in wins or rings with RBs (like I do with QBs) because I have yet to see a RB make a team a contender on his own. I am not a big fan of short yardage TDs because they are easy to get. I apologize in advance for the run on sentences and poor grammar... this is the internet.

1) Barry Sanders - easily the #1 for me. No player has done more with less. He averaged 5 YPC in the toughest era to run in judged by YPC. While he played the average non-QB rush (excluding Sanders) was under 4 YPC (I believe it was 3.8 or 3.9) and this is the lowest in NFL history among players with over 1800 career carries. He took the highest % of his team's non-QB carries (IIRC something around 86%). And, when I last checked, he was in the top 3 in % of team passes to RBs. He also scored the same % of non-QB rushing TDs for the Lions as Emmitt did for the Cowboys. All of those debunk the myths that he was pulled in passing downs, pulled in goal line situations, and pulled in 3rd downs. He also made the greatest impact as a rookie. The prior 4 years to Barry arriving on the Lions they were the worst rushing team in the NFL (all 4 of those years the Lions had Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover) he took them from literal worst in the NFL to first in the NFL in multiple categories. He played the majority of his career without a TE or FB and when he did finally get a standard offense all he did was rush for 2K yards averaging 6.1 YPC. He also had another season where he ran for 1800+ yards at a 5.7 YPC while non-QB league average was 3.7 YPC. He is also one of only 2 RBs in the HOF (the other being Floyd Little) that never played with another HOF and never played with a QB that got an AP or pro bowl nod.

2) Walter Payton - Another guy who did a lot with very little. He was a great runner and a good receiver. He also ran very hard for a guy that was only around 210.

3) Jim Brown - I think the era he played it was very weak compared to modern players. He makes it this far due to the fact that he was so dominant during his time - though some of the dominance was purely because he was taking 20 carries a game when 90% of the league was RBBC. Brown was really only competing against one *maybe* two other players in a season. Also, Bobby Mitchell, had a higher YPC and scored TDs at a greater rate while on the same team. He was also surrounded by HOFers (unlike the first 2 on the list).

4) Emmitt Smith - I think many underrate Smith (as with other RBs that played in the 1990s). The 1990s was a difficult decade to run in. Emmitt had an amazing peak and obviously his longevity is unmatched.

5) Tomlinson - I think the next 4 could be put in any order - but since I am forced to choose LT gets in at #5. I do think Marty liked padding his TD totals, but you still can't argue with the overall production of Tomlinson. Also, the reason LT gets the nod over the next 3 guys is the fact that he just didn't put the ball on the turf.

6) Eric Dickerson - probably the most underrated of the great RBs. His running ability is better than LT but he did fumble quite a bit more. I am not positive, but I don't think there is anyone that matches his first 4 years in the league. The guy was a monster.

7) OJ Simpson - yes, he killed people - probably - but he was awesome on the field. He was misused early in his career which hurts his career totals. He played in that sort of transitional period in the NFL so I knock him down a bit for that. However, his peak seasons really can't be matched.

Cool Marshall Faulk - Faulk has always been difficult for me to place. He was a borderline bust on the Colts (considering where he was drafted and what was expected out of him). He put up one of the worst rushing seasons ever at the age of 23 with RBs among RBs taking a similar number of carries (yes I know he had some toe issues). Faulk also got to play with some decent talent on the Colts. The Colts (not that recent history has shown the Colts know much about RBs) traded him for pennies if they really thought he was a HOFer. Edge came in as a rookie and had a better rushing season that Faulk ever had on the Colts. All that said, once he was in an offense that gave him space to work in he was unstoppable. His peak was so great that when most of us think of Faulk we think of the 3 healthy seasons he had for the Rams rather than the 4 he had on the Colts.

9) Earl Campbell - dominant for a short stretch. However, even though I am not a big proponent of YFS, the guy just didn't catch the ball. In fact, he never even scored a receiving TD his entire career.

10) Adrian Peterson - at one point I thought Peterson would break into the top 5 but I don't think so any longer. This past decade or so has been much easier to run in (judged by YPC) than previous decades so I am not as impressed with his 5.0 YPC in today's game that seems to focus on passing with running being an after thought.

11) Joe Perry - Imagine there was no Jim Brown. If there was no Jim Brown, Joe Perry would've held the all time rushing mark from 1955 to 1976 - over 20 years. Perry also had some amazing longevity considering the medical advancements during the time he played.

12) Thurman Thomas - Imagine there was no Marshall Faulk etc. etc. Thurman had an amazing 4 year stretch with the Bills. I am pretty sure he is the only RB that led the league in YFS for 4 straight years. It is unfortunate for his legacy that Faulk was putting up his crazy numbers right as Thurman was exiting the league. There was a time in the early 90s where if you asked: "Who is the best RB in the NFL?" most people would agree that the answer: "I don't know but he played for Ok St." was a correct one.

13) Franco Harris - was a key cog in the Steelers' dynasty when running the ball was the thing to do.

14) Corey Dillon - my controversial pick. I think, talentwise, Dillon is a HOFer. He played 7 years on a horrible Bengals team that never even managed a winning record but he rushed for over 1000 yards for his first 6 seasons and even broke Walter Payton's 20+ year old single game record against the #1 rushing D in the league at the time. He gets labeled a malcontent, goes to the Patriots, and when he finally has a decent team around him he sets career highs in both rushing and TDs at the age of 30. I am not sure how many RBs set career highs in both those stats over the age of 30 - but it can't be many. Surrounding talent can have a dramatic effect on RB production and I think Dillon got the short end of the stick during his prime and is still a top 20 all time rusher.

15) Curtis Martin - my gut tells me that Martin isn't a HOFer and that he was a compiler. Similar to Jerome Bettis, his career YPC is below league average for RBs while he played. However, if he is a compiler, then he is the greatest compiler the game has ever seen - and the guy just didn't fumble. He is the guy that is really hard for me to place.

16) Tony Dorsett - great player on great teams. He never really led the league in anything and that is a mark against him since he played on some good teams. He would be higher on my list if he didn't fumble as often as he scored.

17) Terrell Davis - I think the Bronco's system makes the RB look much better than he actually is. Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Droughns, and Portis all looked great in that Denver system. Portis, at the same point in their careers, actually looked better. Davis gets this position because there isn't a better post season runner ever - system or not. What the guy accomplished in the post season is nothing short of amazing.

1Cool Edgerrin James - A workhorse back that could both run and catch. It is unfortunate that he probably won't make the HOF.

19) Tiki Barber - Another underrated back that peaked basically as he was exiting the league. He had some great rushing and YFS seasons and, what many don't realize, is that aside from Barber the Giants were absolutely horrible at running the ball. I am pretty sure that compared to his teammates, Barber has one of the most significant improvement in YPC in the history of the NFL.

20) Gale Sayers - career is too short, no matter how good, for me to put him above the others.

-------- Those I left off:
Bettis - never led the league in anything, YPC was below league average for his career, for being a short yardage RB he rarely broke double digit TDs, was never considered one of the best in the league.
Allen - yes he had a good year or two - but playing like a 30 year old Tomlinson for a dozen years makes you a compiler in my book.
Bo Jackson - Couldn't stay healthy in college, couldn't stay healthy in the pros, got to come in midseason rested (comparatively), wasn't much of a receiver, Jamaal Charles had similar numbers at the same # of games in their careers IIRC and no one is putting Charles in their top 20 list (though he may deserve it more than Peterson in a few years)


Curtis Martin and Jerome Bettis had strong next to last seasons, so I don't understand the compiler argument for those backs. Frank Gore has just two 100 yard games over the last two seasons, so he would fall into the compiler category.
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Badger75


Joined: 08 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sn0mm1s wrote:
Posted this a couple of years ago... only a top 20 list but meh.

I have written a lot on RB rankings over the years... I could probably cut and paste a dissertation on debunking Barry Sanders myths from my posts around the web. As with my other rankings I will almost never put a player #1 if the majority of their career was played prior to 1975. I am especially harsh in regards to this with RBs because they truly are trying to physically beat multiple players on nearly every rush. I am not as impressed with players that are compilers nor am I that impressed with YFS if large portion of that is routinely receiving yards. Surrounding talent means a lot as does how other runners on the same team performed. I don't factor in wins or rings with RBs (like I do with QBs) because I have yet to see a RB make a team a contender on his own. I am not a big fan of short yardage TDs because they are easy to get. I apologize in advance for the run on sentences and poor grammar... this is the internet.

1) Barry Sanders - easily the #1 for me. No player has done more with less. He averaged 5 YPC in the toughest era to run in judged by YPC. While he played the average non-QB rush (excluding Sanders) was under 4 YPC (I believe it was 3.8 or 3.9) and this is the lowest in NFL history among players with over 1800 career carries. He took the highest % of his team's non-QB carries (IIRC something around 86%). And, when I last checked, he was in the top 3 in % of team passes to RBs. He also scored the same % of non-QB rushing TDs for the Lions as Emmitt did for the Cowboys. All of those debunk the myths that he was pulled in passing downs, pulled in goal line situations, and pulled in 3rd downs. He also made the greatest impact as a rookie. The prior 4 years to Barry arriving on the Lions they were the worst rushing team in the NFL (all 4 of those years the Lions had Lomas Brown and Kevin Glover) he took them from literal worst in the NFL to first in the NFL in multiple categories. He played the majority of his career without a TE or FB and when he did finally get a standard offense all he did was rush for 2K yards averaging 6.1 YPC. He also had another season where he ran for 1800+ yards at a 5.7 YPC while non-QB league average was 3.7 YPC. He is also one of only 2 RBs in the HOF (the other being Floyd Little) that never played with another HOF and never played with a QB that got an AP or pro bowl nod.

2) Walter Payton - Another guy who did a lot with very little. He was a great runner and a good receiver. He also ran very hard for a guy that was only around 210.

3) Jim Brown - I think the era he played it was very weak compared to modern players. He makes it this far due to the fact that he was so dominant during his time - though some of the dominance was purely because he was taking 20 carries a game when 90% of the league was RBBC. Brown was really only competing against one *maybe* two other players in a season. Also, Bobby Mitchell, had a higher YPC and scored TDs at a greater rate while on the same team. He was also surrounded by HOFers (unlike the first 2 on the list).

4) Emmitt Smith - I think many underrate Smith (as with other RBs that played in the 1990s). The 1990s was a difficult decade to run in. Emmitt had an amazing peak and obviously his longevity is unmatched.

5) Tomlinson - I think the next 4 could be put in any order - but since I am forced to choose LT gets in at #5. I do think Marty liked padding his TD totals, but you still can't argue with the overall production of Tomlinson. Also, the reason LT gets the nod over the next 3 guys is the fact that he just didn't put the ball on the turf.

6) Eric Dickerson - probably the most underrated of the great RBs. His running ability is better than LT but he did fumble quite a bit more. I am not positive, but I don't think there is anyone that matches his first 4 years in the league. The guy was a monster.

7) OJ Simpson - yes, he killed people - probably - but he was awesome on the field. He was misused early in his career which hurts his career totals. He played in that sort of transitional period in the NFL so I knock him down a bit for that. However, his peak seasons really can't be matched.

Cool Marshall Faulk - Faulk has always been difficult for me to place. He was a borderline bust on the Colts (considering where he was drafted and what was expected out of him). He put up one of the worst rushing seasons ever at the age of 23 with RBs among RBs taking a similar number of carries (yes I know he had some toe issues). Faulk also got to play with some decent talent on the Colts. The Colts (not that recent history has shown the Colts know much about RBs) traded him for pennies if they really thought he was a HOFer. Edge came in as a rookie and had a better rushing season that Faulk ever had on the Colts. All that said, once he was in an offense that gave him space to work in he was unstoppable. His peak was so great that when most of us think of Faulk we think of the 3 healthy seasons he had for the Rams rather than the 4 he had on the Colts.

9) Earl Campbell - dominant for a short stretch. However, even though I am not a big proponent of YFS, the guy just didn't catch the ball. In fact, he never even scored a receiving TD his entire career.

10) Adrian Peterson - at one point I thought Peterson would break into the top 5 but I don't think so any longer. This past decade or so has been much easier to run in (judged by YPC) than previous decades so I am not as impressed with his 5.0 YPC in today's game that seems to focus on passing with running being an after thought.

11) Joe Perry - Imagine there was no Jim Brown. If there was no Jim Brown, Joe Perry would've held the all time rushing mark from 1955 to 1976 - over 20 years. Perry also had some amazing longevity considering the medical advancements during the time he played.

12) Thurman Thomas - Imagine there was no Marshall Faulk etc. etc. Thurman had an amazing 4 year stretch with the Bills. I am pretty sure he is the only RB that led the league in YFS for 4 straight years. It is unfortunate for his legacy that Faulk was putting up his crazy numbers right as Thurman was exiting the league. There was a time in the early 90s where if you asked: "Who is the best RB in the NFL?" most people would agree that the answer: "I don't know but he played for Ok St." was a correct one.

13) Franco Harris - was a key cog in the Steelers' dynasty when running the ball was the thing to do.

14) Corey Dillon - my controversial pick. I think, talentwise, Dillon is a HOFer. He played 7 years on a horrible Bengals team that never even managed a winning record but he rushed for over 1000 yards for his first 6 seasons and even broke Walter Payton's 20+ year old single game record against the #1 rushing D in the league at the time. He gets labeled a malcontent, goes to the Patriots, and when he finally has a decent team around him he sets career highs in both rushing and TDs at the age of 30. I am not sure how many RBs set career highs in both those stats over the age of 30 - but it can't be many. Surrounding talent can have a dramatic effect on RB production and I think Dillon got the short end of the stick during his prime and is still a top 20 all time rusher.

15) Curtis Martin - my gut tells me that Martin isn't a HOFer and that he was a compiler. Similar to Jerome Bettis, his career YPC is below league average for RBs while he played. However, if he is a compiler, then he is the greatest compiler the game has ever seen - and the guy just didn't fumble. He is the guy that is really hard for me to place.

16) Tony Dorsett - great player on great teams. He never really led the league in anything and that is a mark against him since he played on some good teams. He would be higher on my list if he didn't fumble as often as he scored.

17) Terrell Davis - I think the Bronco's system makes the RB look much better than he actually is. Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, Droughns, and Portis all looked great in that Denver system. Portis, at the same point in their careers, actually looked better. Davis gets this position because there isn't a better post season runner ever - system or not. What the guy accomplished in the post season is nothing short of amazing.

1Cool Edgerrin James - A workhorse back that could both run and catch. It is unfortunate that he probably won't make the HOF.

19) Tiki Barber - Another underrated back that peaked basically as he was exiting the league. He had some great rushing and YFS seasons and, what many don't realize, is that aside from Barber the Giants were absolutely horrible at running the ball. I am pretty sure that compared to his teammates, Barber has one of the most significant improvement in YPC in the history of the NFL.

20) Gale Sayers - career is too short, no matter how good, for me to put him above the others.

-------- Those I left off:
Bettis - never led the league in anything, YPC was below league average for his career, for being a short yardage RB he rarely broke double digit TDs, was never considered one of the best in the league.
Allen - yes he had a good year or two - but playing like a 30 year old Tomlinson for a dozen years makes you a compiler in my book.
Bo Jackson - Couldn't stay healthy in college, couldn't stay healthy in the pros, got to come in midseason rested (comparatively), wasn't much of a receiver, Jamaal Charles had similar numbers at the same # of games in their careers IIRC and no one is putting Charles in their top 20 list (though he may deserve it more than Peterson in a few years)


I like this.

Lombardi, in the 1950s with the NYG, converted Frank Gifford from a USC QB to a triple threat backfield star. Connerly was the QB, but Gifford gave them lots of options. In GB, Lombardi took ND QB Paul Hornung and did the same thing. Marshall Faulk had that same type of role. Not many players have that ability. Idea
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