Top 10 in 2014: The best running backs in the NFL today

Credit: Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

Typically speaking, sports fans tend to worry about two things – the past and the future. They’ll debate who was the greatest player of all-time, while also spending hours discussing whether or not a rookie is going to be develop into an All-Pro.

Both are fun exercises, things that keep fans engaged and the beer flowing at the local tavern. But they miss out on what is most important – the present.


Forget about yesterday. Never mind tomorrow. Let’s talk about today.

Who are the best players in the NFL right now? Who can help a team win the Super Bowl this season? Who is writing a legacy with each passing week?

Those are the questions the editors at cover32 seek to answer in this series, “Top 10 in 2014.” In the coming weeks, every positions – as well as head coach, general manager and other off-field areas – will be graded, evaluated and ranked.

The series continues with a position that some think is dying in the NFL – running back. But one look at the best teams in the league a year ago suggests otherwise; a workhorse runner still leads to success in 2014.

Let the debate begin!


10. Frank Gore

Gore shows no signs of slowing down

Heading into his 10th season, all with San Francisco, some people believe Gore is starting to show some wear and tear. Given the average lifespan of an NFL running back, which is about one-third of the time Gore has been a Niner, that makes sense. But the numbers suggest otherwise. In the past three seasons, playing in Jim Harbaugh’s system that focuses on running, the veteran has averaged 1,184 yards and 8.3 touchdowns per year; that’s not slowing down.

9. Zac Stacy

Stacy is a star on the rise in St. Louis

In his rookie season, this Rams running back showed some great promise. Despite starting only 12 games, he rushed for 973 yards and seven touchdowns, while also hauling in passes for another 141 and a score. And that’s in an offense without a big-time threat at quarterback. As Stacy gets more playing time, especially behind a capable signal-caller, he’ll only be more effective. The 23-year-old running back is a star on the rise.


  1. Like the QB list, it seems like this is exclusively based on last season. But how does Stacy get on the list after one season in which he didn’t even rush for 1000 yards? I don’t get it. Where are guys like C.J. Spiller, Arian Foster, heck maybe even Chris Johnson, Knowshon Moreno (one good year right?), like Mark said, Alfred Morris, Reggie Bush and Doug Martin? I’d take any of those guys over Stacy, and likely Murray too. Lacy may deserve to be 10th, he was a real workhorse last year. We’ll have to see if Murray can stay healthy and hold onto the ball consistently.

  2. Morris should be a top 5 running back. 3,000 yards over two seasons. No brainer. Murray from Dallas, please, he can’t stay on the field.

  3. So tell me honestly. Who would you rather in the backfield, AP or McCoy. I think we all know that answer. Hint: it’s not McCoy.


  5. You guys are forgetting that this is base all around running back and MCshady is the complete running back.. since I know you will hate on this. Look at his stats for the last 3 season compare to the top RB in the league…Shady best back in the league hands down so stop hating…

  6. So lets look at the stats. I only glanced at the rushing, but McCoy over the last 3 years rushed for 3700 some yards and 28TDs – AP ran for 4300+ yards and 33 TDs – Best running back?

  7. Typical reporter trying to think he can out smart stats— Keep it simple STUPID. here is your real top ten!
    1 LeSean McCoy
    2 Matt Forte
    3 Jamaal Charles
    4 Alfred Morris
    5 Adrian Peterson
    6 Marshawn Lynch
    7 Ryan Mathews
    8 Eddie Lacy
    9 Frank Gore
    10 DeMarco Murray

  8. Nice to see DeMarco Murray on this list. I was not sure if he would make it due to Dallas’s refusal to consistently feed him the ball and make him a true work horse. There is no excuse for this, and the times that Dallas has had leads and refused to feed the ball to Murray, one could say they deserved to lose.

  9. Gore should be way higher up. He has been dealing with a lame WR group, Crabtree is consistently disappearing, Kap never throws the ball to him when he is wide open, and besides playing the toughest run schedule last season his offensive line underperformed and played with injury all season.

  10. pretty off list.. they guy forgets about some really quality backs, like Alfred Morris, I thought Mathews and Demarco Murray where big stretches and theen doesn have Peterson as #1 Im a guy from seattle still living in seattle so its not a home town thing but he’s the best there is, hes a once in a generation type player, not saying shady isnt a very good player, but he’s deffinitley reaping the rewards of playing for Chip Kelley, hes a great talent, but lets c Shady and A.D. trade teams for a season. I’d bet everything that Peterson’s would have the better season, * also A. Foster- know he was hurt last year but hes a bad @$$. Why was he a no show if this a look into this coming season and not his version of just last years top 10 backs?

  11. I’m good with the top 5. I think McCoy is the most elusive and arguably explosive runner in football. Not that AP isn’t an absolute stud, I think it’s more of a #1 and #1A. I thinks it’s ridiculous that Forte is ranked #91 on the NFL Networks top 100 players? Forte is easily a top 4 RB and should be listed as a top 25 NFL player.

  12. Charles in charge, no doubt leads the way. Had less carries and still managed over 1200 rushing yards, and over 700 rcv yards….. Who is more valuable…..? There’s really no argument here

  13. This may be the dumbest and absurd thing I’ve ever read. Watch some football lady. A not number 1? Alfred Morris not in the top 10? Ridiculous.

    • You are an idiot. Last year, he had 1200 yards with a torn groin. The year before, he ran for 2100 after having major knee surgery.
      Every comments forum has at least 1 idiot. Thank for volunteering.

  14. the list is a huge joke only a idiot would put Charles at number 3 every coach in the nfl would kill to have Charles and not one defense ever wants to see him line up in the backfield he can burn you in the air and on the ground #1 Charles #2 Adrian Peterson

  15. Typical east coast bias, kinda funny how everyone thought Kansas City and Denver were so powerful at the beginning of the year. Neither team played a good defense or offense. I could go on about which division had the best defenses and what team played most of the best defenses twice but that would be rambling, Look at the numbers for yards after contact and for positive yards when they should of been for a loss because of an anemic offensive line. Marshawn Lynch top 3

  16. One of the worst sports columns ive seen. How do you have Zac Stacy and Ryan Matthews ahead of Frank Gore. How does Adrain Peterson not rank number 1? Where the fuck is Alfred Morris. Ill take this as a subjective list.

  17. Where is Andre Ellington? in 2014 he had the highest yards per touch at 5.5 than any running back and that was behind a terrible line; this year he will have arguably one of the best left sides in the league! Now, if this list is for the best running backs over the last 5 years then OK! But, as of a list for today’s running backs … you guys missed the mark!

  18. First off, AD is the best RB of the past decade, and I’m a Bills fan. That guy is incredible. Secondly, Stacy, really? CJ SPiller had a high ankle sprain and was better – and far better when healthy. Yes, Im a Bills fan. Unlike the other lists I’ve read here, where you can argue and debate but seems pretty solid, the rest of this list seems like wishful thinking, particularly in the bottom 5.

  19. 1. A. Peterson
    2. L. McCoy
    3. J. Charles
    4. M. Forte
    5. A. Foster
    6. A. Morris
    7. M. Lynch
    8. C. Spiller
    9. F. Gore
    10. D. Murray

    This is a better list, wouldn’t you think?

  20. 1. Adrian Peterson
    2.Lesean McCoy
    3.Jamaal Charles
    4.Alfred Morris
    5.Marshawn Lynch
    6.Doug Martin
    7.Arian Foster
    8.Matt Forte
    9.Giovani Bernard
    10.Cj Spiller

    Best List haha some of y’all really know about this kind of stuff lmaoo

    • Probably beating his wife somewhere. Also, Ray Rice didn’t do anything last year. 3.1 yards per attempt, down a full 1.2 yards from his career average. He’s been declining for a couple years and doesn’t belong anywhere near a top 10 list.

  21. It is funny that everyone is complaining about where their teams running back ranks. “Oh well my team doesn’t get any press coverage…BOOHOO.” Yet a guy like Stacy makes the list and the Rams get no coverage because they have been terrible. He doesnt play the whole year and puts up good numbers for the games he does play behind a bad offense. It isnt about what your teams back did when 5 years ago and how he used to be good. This list is off of how they performed last year and what they will most likely do going forward. Some of these guys are getting old and going down hill. I mean the way some of you guys are arguing I could ask why Steven Jackson isn’t on here. “He put up 8 consecutive season of over 1000 yards for the Rams and they were winning 3 games on a good year.” Oh yeah because he sucked last year and didnt hardly get on the field for the Bucs because of injuries. I think the list is good enough and actually has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on how your team will play this coming year. Grow up guys.