Ranking the NFC South position groups rolls on, this time diving into the running back position. Two of the best backs in the league reside in this division, and neither of them are Todd Gurley. After that – it’s pretty slim pickings.
Here’s the other rankings of the divisional position groups that have been completed so far:
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The good news is that running back is the least important position to be good at when compiling an NFL roster. The bad news is that the Bucs don’t have anyone in their running back room who has been above average any year of their career – yet.
Jones took a big leap last year from a miserable rookie campaign, and was clearly the team’s best running back down the stretch last season. I’m hopeful that he’s ready to become more of a featured back this season, while Vaughn and Ogunbowale fill in the cracks as receivers and pass protectors. But I won’t be drafting any of these guys for my fantasy team.
3. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons once boasted one of the best running back rooms in the NFL, but the days of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman ravaging defenses are long gone. Now the team will be forced to rely on what is left of Todd Gurley, who looked like a shell of himself last season.
In a small sample size of just over 100 carries, Brian Hill has looked capable, but Ito Smith hasn’t turned into much of the jitterbug, third down threat the Falcons were hoping for when they selected him in the fourth round. If Gurley can’t carry the load, and the past season-and-a-half suggests he can’t, who do the Falcons turn to at running back?
2. New Orleans Saints
There’s a case to be made for the Saints grabbing the No. 1 spot on the list because of their backfield depth, but I’m comfortable with them in the two-slot.
Kamara is one of the top weapons out of the backfield in the NFL, and Murray is a solid No. 2 back. I’m excited to see how the Saints deploy a fun weapon like Montgomery too. Just another area where New Orleans isn’t hurting for talent.
1. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers may not have the deepest backfield, but McCaffrey is the best receiving back in the NFL and he’s a pretty good runner too. Mike Davis had his moments in Seattle too, and I still think he and Scarlett can combine to form a hard-charging backup tandem.
If McCaffrey gets hurt the Panthers won’t be in as good a shape as the Saints would be if they lost Kamara, but as long as he’s healthy, it’s tough to say there’s a more valuable back in the league. That’ll overcome the depth concern for the purpose of this ranking.