Ranking every nfl backfield heading into the 2018 season bleacher report latest news, videos and highlights youtube gas pedal lyrics


The Cincinnati Bengals had the second-worst ground game in 2017, with an average of just 85.4 yards per game. While some of the blame is on Cincinnati’s shoddy offensive line, backs like Jeremy Hill and Mixon struggled to create their own space.

Hill is gone to the New England Patriots, and Mixon looks like he’ll be taking over the starting gig full-time. However, Cincinnati’s best back last season was Giovani Bernard. He averaged 4.4 yards per carry and caught 43 passes for 389 yards.

Mixon averaged a subpar 3.5 yards per carry, but he is the bigger back at 6’1" and 228 pounds. The 5’9", 205-pound Bernard is more of a change-of-pace back and a pass-catcher. Mixon is built better for a heavy early-down workload, though Bernard may again be the superior back when he gets his opportunities.

Brian Hill is purely a depth player who had just 11 carries in 2017. Fourth-round pick Mark Walton and undrafted free agent Quinton Flowers should compete for playing time and may push Hill out of the backfield. Flowers, who played quarterback at South Florida, could carve out a role as a Wildcat player in sub-packages.

The additions of Cordy Glenn via a trade and rookie Billy Price should improve Cincinnati’s blocking up front. If Mixon doesn’t take a big step forward in his second year, however, the Bengals could have the worst running game in the NFL. Bernard brings some versatility to the backfield, but there is virtually no proven depth behind him.

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch ran hard in 2017 and continues to be a load for opposing defenses to handle. However, he isn’t the same workhorse he once was with the Seattle Seahawks. While he did average 4.3 yards per carry, he only logged 207 totes last season.

Lynch could get an even smaller workload in 2018. A lot will depend on how new head coach Jon Gruden decides to split his backfield. The Raiders have a quality change-of-pace back in Jalen Richard, who averaged 4.9 yards per carry last campaign. However, Gruden and the Raiders brought in Doug Martin on a one-year, $1.48 million deal this offseason.

If the Gruden tries to force Martin into a role, Richard could lose opportunities. Most likely, though, Martin and DeAndre Washington will compete for a depth role. Martin and Washington averaged just 2.9 and 2.7 yards per carry last season, respectively.

Oakland didn’t add a running back in the draft, so if Martin doesn’t regain his Pro Bowl form and help improve the Raiders backfield, the ground game is likely to look a whole lot like it did in 2017. That’s not good, as Oakland averaged just 97.1 yards per game last season, 25th in the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the league’s best running backs in Ezekiel Elliott. He only appeared in 10 games because of suspension last season but still managed to rush for 983 yards and 4.1 yards per carry. He’s also a quality pass-catcher who has racked up 58 receptions in less than two full seasons.

The problem with Dallas’ backfield is that it lacks proven depth. The Cowboys haven’t re-signed Alfred Morris, who rushed for 547 yards last season. That leaves Rod Smith as the veteran backup behind Elliott. He rushed for 4.2 yards per carry last season but has 57 total NFL carries.

The Cowboys drafted former Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough in the seventh round. He is a 6’1", 228-pound bruiser who should see some work in short-yardage situations. The Cowboys also have Trey Williams, who has also spent time with the Colts and Steelers.

While Dallas’ backfield is mainly a one-man show, the quality of the team’s offensive line suggests guys like Scarbrough and Smith can succeed if thrust into a starting role for a short stretch. Even with Elliott absent for six games, the Cowboys still finished the season ranked second in rushing, with an average of 135.6 yards per game.

Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt was the league’s most explosive back in 2017. He led the NFL with 1,327 yards rushing and also tied for the league lead with 12 rushes of 20 yards or more. And he tied for second with three rushes of at least 40 yards.

Unlike teams like the Steelers and the Rams, though, the Chiefs don’t have just a one-man backfield. They have a tremendous backup in Charcandrick West, who averaged 4.0 yards per carry last season while catching 27 passes. They also have Spencer Ware, who missed all of last season with a torn PCL.

Before the injury, though, Ware was a budding star. In 2016, he rushed for 921 yards, averaged 4.3 yards per carry and caught 33 passes. If he’s back to 100 percent, Kansas City will essentially have two starting-caliber backs and one of the better backups in the league.

With veteran Anthony Sherman also in the backfield, the Chiefs should have the best group in the league. They can run the ball with multiple guys, keep their backs fresh and also provide first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes with quality receiving outlets.