RB Index, Week 5: Five running backs who merit more touches

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Where has Kenyan Drake gone?

In August, Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Drake should get "15-20 carries and 6-8 targets" per game. Since then, the running back has all but disappeared, and his touches have shrunk with each passing week, dropping from 18 in Week 1 to 15 in Week 2, seven in Week 3 and four in Week 4.

Before we get to the studs dominating my weekly running back ranking below, let's take a look at the backs around the league who should be getting the rock more often as we approach midseason. Here are five running backs who deserve more touches:

Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins: As I mentioned just above, Drake's season seems to be getting away from him. The Dolphins are running the ball on 47.7 percent of their offensive plays this season, up from 36.2 percent in 2017. While I'm happy to see their commitment to the ground attack, I'd like to see more of those carries (and touches, in general) go to Drake. I'm cool with Frank Gore getting his 9.5 touches per game, but Drake's versatility and explosiveness should put him in the 15-20 touch range, at least half of which should be carries.

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers: With Aaron Rodgers' mobility hindered by his knee injury, the Packers need to rely more heavily on the run game. Jones is the answer. Even Rodgers thinks so. Jones was Green Bay's most efficient running back in 2017, running for 448 yards and four touchdowns despite playing just 23 percent of the snaps (according to Next Gen Stats), due, in part, to knee injuries. The UTEP product averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season -- nearly 2 yards per carry more than Jamaal Williams (3.6) and Ty Montgomery (3.8) -- and six of his 81 attempts were runs of at least 20 yards.

The 2017 fifth-round pick has proven he's the team's most valuable running back, but he's being underused in 2018. Since returning in Week 3 after serving a two-game suspension, he has 17 carries for 107 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and a touchdown, and he's played in 32 percent of the offensive snaps. Sure, that's a higher percentage than Jones saw as a rookie, but it's still not enough. The Packers must utilize their best back -- at UTEP, Jones could do everything -- when facing good defenses. But he had just seven touches against Washington and 12 against Buffalo. I'd like to see that number increase to 20 or 25 touches per game. Trust me, Packers fans, you'll notice a difference.

Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: With the Buccaneers on their bye week, it's time to re-evaluate the run game. For starters, the Bucs are running the ball 36.5 percent of the time, and their 278 rushing yards account for just 16 percent of the offense's total yards. No running back has gotten in the end zone -- the team's only rushing touchdown was scored by 35-year-old quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has just 14 career rushing touchdowns in 14 pro seasons. Eek! Now that the FitzMagic has worn off and the offensive line is struggling in pass protection, Tampa must find offensive balance by running the ball more.

To be honest, I just don't feel Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones are getting it done. Why not lean on a guy who's been with Dirk Koetter in six of the last seven seasons (2012-14 in Atlanta and 2016-present in Tampa)? Let Rodgers carry the load and spark the run game. Right now, the eighth-year veteran averages 4.0 touches per game behind Barber (13.0) and Jones (11.0), despite playing more offensive snaps than the rookie. A reliable back in the past for the Bucs, Rodgers could help turn over a new leaf for a team on a two-game skid. If I'm calling the shots, I'd give Rodgers 20-25 touches per game.

Any Colts running back: Andrew Luck threw the ball 62 times Sunday, and the Colts' 66 total pass plays (62 passes and four sacks) were the most in a game in team history. That's ridiculous, considering they don't boast an elite passing attack. Coming into Week 1, Luck hadn't seen regular-season game action in 616 days. I don't care how good or talented a player is, that's a long time -- and the coaching staff isn't doing Luck any favors. The Colts have run the ball just 80 times this season (20 carries per game). They must pound the rock 30-35 times per game if they want to compete and improve offensively.

Who should get the carries?

Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines shared a majority of the carries through four weeks, while Jeremy McNichols and Christine Michael were also in the mix. Hines has been more of a threat in the pass game and Wilkins leads the team with 38 carries for 136 yards. With Mack fighting a hamstring injury, Wilkins got the most recent start in Week 4, but the rookie was unable to take advantage of his opportunity (held to just 16 rushing yards on eight carries). Luckily for the Colts, running back Robert Turbin returns this week after serving a four-game suspension for PEDs. Maybe he can jump-start the ground game. Either way, it makes no difference whose number is called. Just hand the ball off.

Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens: Alex Collins and Allen have been involved in an equal amount of offensive snaps this season, with Collins getting 11 more touches than Allen heading into Week 5. Collins is averaging more yards per touch, but he has one major issue: He fumbles the ball. Collins has fumbled twice (both lost) through four games, including a crucial one at the 1-yard line in Sunday's 26-14 win in Pittsburgh. Furthermore, Collins has fumbled eight times (five lost) since 2016. Allen hasn't fumbled at all during that span. You can be the best running back in the world, but fumbles are so detrimental (just ask Adrian Peterson).

Allen has proven to be Baltimore's better back right now and should be rewarded. The Ravens have already used him in creative ways, but it's time that Allen's touches per game increase from 10.5 to around 18.

Former NFL rushing leader and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2018 season. His rankings are based on this season's efforts alone. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 5.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from last week's rankings.

1
Todd Gurley
RB
Rams

Previous rank: No. 1

Gurley makes it look so easy and can beat defenders in so many ways. On pace to duplicate his 2017 Offensive Player of the Year campaign, I'm not sure if there's a defense that can stop the Rams back right now.

2018 stats: 4 games | 79 att | 338 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 4 rush TDs | 15 rec | 194 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

2
Alvin Kamara
RB
Saints

Previous rank: No. 2

This guy keeps getting better and better. He has 100 receiving yards one week and 100 rushing yards the next. Against the Giants, the Saints really leaned on the youngster, and he didn't disappoint -- 19 attempts for 134 yards and three rush TDs and five catches for 47 receiving yards. With Mark Ingram returning this week, Kamara likely won't keep this pace, but his value will remain the same.

2018 stats: 4 games | 56 att | 275 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 35 rec | 336 rec yds | 1 rec TD

3
Ezekiel Elliott
RB
Cowboys
4

Previous rank: No. 7

The 2016 version of Zeke showed up again for the Cowboys on Sunday: 25 attempts for 152 rushing yards and four catches for 88 receiving yards and one TD. The 'Boys let their most talented player lead them and the results were expected. Dallas needs to stick with the run-first approach no matter the opponent because it is 18-5 when Elliott gets at least 20 touches, per NFL Research.

2018 stats: 4 games | 73 att | 426 rush yds | 5.8 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 15 rec | 125 rec yds | 1 rec TD

4
Christian McCaffrey
RB
Panthers
1

Previous rank: No. 3

McCaffrey stays in the top five despite Carolina's bye week. Expect the second-year back to have a big game against the Giants after a week of rest.

2018 stats: 3 games | 46 att | 271 rush yds | 5.9 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 22 rec | 157 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

5
Kareem Hunt
RB
Chiefs
3

Previous rank: No. 8

I was waiting for Hunt to go off and it came in prime time against the Broncos. In his best game of 2018, Hunt had 175 scrimmage yards (121 rushing, 54 receiving) and a touchdown. This was the first time this season in which the Chiefs' run game was just as much a threat as the pass.

2018 stats: 4 games | 71 att | 289 rush yds | 4.1 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 4 rec | 59 rec yds | 1 rec TD

6
Saquon Barkley
RB
Giants
1

Previous rank: No. 5

The Giants' poor O-line has really hindered the offense, which hasn't found consistency in the run or pass games. Barkley had just 10 carries for 44 yards against the Saints, but was able to finish with at least 100 scrimmage yards in his fourth straight game.

2018 stats: 4 games | 56 att | 260 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 27 rec | 193 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

7
Melvin Gordon
RB
Chargers
3

Previous rank: No. 4

Gordon, who recorded his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 8 of 2017, has really developed into a hard-nosed runner. Per Pro Football Focus, 71 of Gordon's 104 rush yards last week were gained after contact, and he finished with 159 scrimmage yards in the win.

2018 stats: 4 games | 54 att | 276 rush yds | 5.1 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 24 rec | 199 rec yds | 3 rec TDs

8
Carlos Hyde
RB
Browns
3

Previous rank: No. 11

The first-year Brown is the only player in the league to have at least 15 rush attempts, 40 rush yards and one touchdown in every game this season. Hyde's production should stay the same, even if rookie Nick Chubb gets more touches after a breakout game in Oakland.

2018 stats: 4 games | 83 att | 285 rush yds | 3.4 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 4 rec | 15 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

9
Adrian Peterson
RB
Redskins
1

Previous rank: No. 10

Coming off a bye, Peterson has fresh legs against the team that gave up on him last October. Watch out!

2018 stats: 3 games | 56 att | 236 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 5 rec | 100 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

10
Phillip Lindsay
RB
Broncos
5

Previous rank: No. 15

Lindsay was solid in prime time and recorded his first career rushing touchdown. With a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Broncos should've looked to their rookie running backs (Lindsay and Royce Freeman), who combined for just six yards on three carries in the fourth. It might've been a different story had they done that.

2018 stats: 4 games | 45 att | 267 rush yds | 5.9 ypc | 1 rush TD | 5 rec | 45 rec yds | 1 rec TD

11
Jordan Howard
RB
Bears
5

Previous rank: No. 6

Tarik Cohen got the majority of touches out of the backfield last week and had a career day as a result. Howard will be just fine, especially as the weather gets colder.

2018 stats: 4 games | 64 att | 203 rush yds | 3.2 ypc | 1 rush TD | 10 rec | 78 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

12
T.J. Yeldon
RB
Jaguars
NR

Previous rank: Not ranked

With Leonard Fournette out again this week, Yeldon will serve as the starting back. The fourth-year Jag, who put up 100 scrimmage yards and two TDs Sunday, has shouldered the load the last two games with 17 touches per game, 5.6 yards per touch and 95 scrimmage yards per game.

2018 stats: 4 games | 49 att | 205 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 1 rush TD | 14 rec | 125 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

13
Matt Breida
RB
49ers
4

Previous rank: No. 9

The 49ers' ground game struggled against the Chargers with a total of 76 rushing yards. Breida had his worst outing of the season with nine carries for 39 yards. Though he had just three targets in the pass game, he was efficient and hauled in all three for 32 yards.

2018 stats: 4 games | 41 att | 313 rush yds | 7.6 ypc | 1 rush TD | 10 rec | 85 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

14
James White
RB
Patriots
NR

Previous rank: Not ranked

White made his mark in the Patriots' Super Bowl LI run and has continued to be a key part of the offense two years later. In New England's most recent win, White had eight attempts for 44 rushing yards and a rush TD, and eight receptions for 68 receiving yards and a receiving TD.

2018 stats: 4 games | 21 att | 110 rush yds | 5.2 ypc | 1 rush TD | 22 rec | 193 rec yds | 3 rec TDs

15
Marshawn Lynch
RB
Raiders
NR

Previous rank: Not ranked

I've been pleasantly surprised by how well Lynch is running at age 32. Against the Browns, the veteran notched 20 carries for 130 yards -- his most rushing yards since Week 10 of 2014, before his temporary retirement. With his physical style, Lynch has caused 19 missed tackles by defenders, according to Pro Football Focus.

2018 stats: 4 games | 68 att | 300 rush yds | 4.4 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 10 rec | 60 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Dropped out: Isaiah Crowell, Jets (Previously No. 12); Tevin Coleman, Falcons (No. 13); Dalvin Cook, Vikings (No. 14).

The Ground Index delivered by FedEx ranks NFL running back performances all season long. Check out the FedEx Ground NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.

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