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:

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ronald Jones
Ke’Shawn Vaughn
Dare Ogunbowale
T.J. Logan
Raymond Calais

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

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

Todd Gurley
Brian Hill
Qadree Ollison
Ito Smith

Rams RB Todd Gurley - Photo by: Getty Images
Rams RB Todd Gurley – Photo by: Getty Images

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

Alvin Kamara
Latavius Murray
Ty Montgomery
Dwayne Washington

Saints RB Alvin Kamara
Saints RB Alvin Kamara – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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

Christian McCaffrey
Jordan Scarlett
Mike Davis
Reggie Bonnafon

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.

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Pete Wood

I agree that the Bucs have the worst running backs in the division. The good news is that they are unproven for the most part and could surprise us all. Bucs really need a veteran free agent. Sounds like Davonte Freeman is going to social distance until he gets the money he thinks he deserves. I don’t see that happening. I disagree that the Panthers have the best running backs in the division. The Panthers are in rebuilding mode and have huge problems everywhere else. Even if they have the top rb in the nfl, that back ain’t gonna get… Read more »

DerLutz

CMC had great stats last year and the QB and the WR Corp received an Upgrade in the offseason. I belive he will have great stats again, but also the same Team success like last year

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Pete Wood

Well said. Good points.

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Dave

He had crap around him last year, horrible QB play, and even worse line play, and he basically rewrote the record books. Sorry but CMC can do it regardless of what’s around him

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BigSombrero

So what you’re saying is a really good running back succeeds with a bad line because he’s good in the first place? So talent at RB matters?

Interesting 180.

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Dave

Actually that’s not even remotely close to what I said. But I’m glad you have the ability to twist my words to suit your usual ridiculous Jonathan Taylor is a Hall of Famer and should have been taken at 14 crap. Now here’s what I actually said. I said the team around CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY doesn’t matter. See he’s the best RB in football. For someone like HIM, the offense around him doesn’t matter. Taylor isn’t in the same planet as CMC, saying anything different is laughable

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Last edited 3 months ago by Dave
Hockey Duckie

Carolina’s OLine was far better than our OLine. Sure, they lack power on short yardage situations, but everywhere else they ranked above average in Stuff and 2nd level stats on Football Outsiders. They ranked 1st in Open Field all because of CMC. Tampa had a RB like that with a slightly above average Oline back in 2015. For the past four years (2016-2019) the Bucs Oline have been miserably and neglected. Yet, you’re implying all we need is a better RB? We spend a 2nd round pick on Rojo! LoL Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet. Please… Read more »

Dave

No they weren’t lol. The Panthers line was garbage last year. The only areas they were even mediocre in was the stats that CMC made them look good in(outside runs, 2nd level runs, open field runs). Other than that, they stunk. Aside from Moton, name me one player on that line last year that was even decent? On the most generous analysis possible, maybe you can say they were even with us last year. But no way were they “far better”. PFF had us ranked 12 spots better than Carolina. Outside Moton, nobody else on the line earned a grade… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Dave
DT25

Was reported today we have offered Freeman a contract (as did the Eagles)…even if he decides to come to Tampa, I think he would ultimately take Dare’s job…with RoJo as the #1 and Vaughn as a wildcard to get in the mix, depending entirely on how quickly he picks up Bruce’s playbook. But think it’d be a positive step for our backfield to add a veteran who can provide valuable depth and experience to the RB room.

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DT25

Auman shut that report down…apparently we haven’t offered Freeman anything as of yet. Which makes some sense given our cap situation.

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Hockey Duckie

We can’t even pay our rookies right now. Tampa isn’t in the arena of signing any above average profiled FA. tsk, tsk, tsk

That cap thing really is an important factor and the Gronk trade put us way over the limit.

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Dman

Spot on, Jon.

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ScottC543

I think that Jones was significantly impeded last year by having to share touches with Barber. The great running backs all talk about getting into a rhythm as the game goes along. Jones could never get into any kind of rhythm spending half of the running plays watching from the sidelines. Let him have Barber’s touches last year and I’ll bet he’d have been a 1000 yard guy. Also, Jone’s pass-catching abilities improved greatly over his rookie season, when it looked like he was having to work at simply catching the ball. Last year catching the ball seemed much easier… Read more »

Dave

Exactly! Now add in the fact that our rushing stats look so much worse by having 150 carries go to the NFL’s worst running back. He was league worst in almost every metric possible. Meanwhile Rojo was 1/3 to middle of the pack across the board in every stat behind the exact same line, all while splitting carries and never getting into a rhythm.

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Dave

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fantasypros.com/2020/01/best-and-worst-rbs-at-creating-yards-in-2019-fantasy-football/amp/

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BigSombrero

Golly, I wonder what a good running back with a 4.39 “40” time, 7000 yards rushing/receiving and NO injuries would have done for the Bucs??

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Dave

Seeing as he’s a fumble waiting to happen, can’t catch and can’t block, and has exactly ZERO NFL snaps, not much

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BigSombrero

That must be why the Colts traded up to select him ahead of Jacksonville and Tampa.

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Dave

Yeah the guy you tried to convince everyone we should have taken at 14, went in the 40’s. Good call ! And a trade up means absolutely positively 100% NOTHING. It means the Colts liked him at 42. No more no less. If we use that logic than Wirfs is gonna be a stud because we traded up for him

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Dave

100% agree Jon. Someone said that Barber’s stats were bad because he was always coming in for short yardage and Rojo only came in on 1st and 2nd down. But I broke all the carries down and they both had nearly identical 1st and 2nd down carry percentages, and percentage of short yardage carries(4 or less to go). They were both used the same. Yet Rojo was light years better on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down, and short yardage, on the same percentage of each down. Wasting 154 carries on Barber killed the offense last year. As did Jameis… Read more »

danielob

I was tempted to put the Saints #1 and Panthers #2, but your assessment of McCaffrey makes me agree with you, he is phenominal but I wonder if the Panthers don’t burn him out carrying their offense. I think that Dare Ogunbowale ( had to copy and paste his name) will remain our 3rd down back just because of his pass blocking skills, and he has decent hands to be the check down back also. Waiting to see if Ray Calais is more then a special teams return guy, wonder how he will do in the open field. Rate this… Read more »

BigSombrero

McCaffery won’t get “burned out”. He doesn’t take punishing hits. He’s not Leonard Fournette getting smashed every time he touches the ball.

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BigSombrero

When Jim Harbaugh was getting started as San Fran’s new HC in 2011, he was told by many people that he would be rebuilding for the first few years. He had to overhaul his roster, implement his new playbook, change the culture, and do it on the fly as the NFL was going through a lockout. He was also coming from the college coaching ranks. The results? 13-3 year 1. SuperBowl in year 2. Carolina’s Matt Rhule is the 5th highest paid coach in the NFL. Carolina is not out of anything yet. He overhauled their defense in the draft.… Read more »

Dave

Any other examples other than Harbaugh? Seeing as that almost never happens. And overhauling a defense doesn’t mean he made it better. They’re all rookie draft picks with ZERO NFL snaps. They could all be busts. And he solidified the offense? I must have missed that. How exactly did he do that? Unless you’re seriously referring to signing league average game manager Teddy Bridgewater( who has 38 TD’s, 25 INT’s, and 175 yds/game in his career) as the move that solidified the offense lol. They could have kept former league MVP Cam Newton or his backup Kyle Allen to put… Read more »

BigSombrero

Chip Kelly took a 4-12 team to 10-6 his first year.

Frank Reich took a 4-12 team to 10-6 his first year.

Matt Nagy took a 5-11 team to 12-4 his first year.

Im shooting fish in a barrell.

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BigSombrero

Breaking news…Carolina just signed CB Eli Apple.

Not breaking news…Cam Newton remains unsigned.

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Dave

Umm yup still waiting? Where’s the 2nd year SB? Not the cherry picked 1st year that any coach can have a fluke 1st season

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DonkeyHunter

Glad to hear that the Freeman rumors were garbage.

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