RB Index, Week 15: Five current RBs who are Hall of Fame locks

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The NFL is full of flashy young running backs, but let's not forget about 35-year-old Frank Gore. He proved Sunday that he's still got it.

Gore racked up 116 scrimmage yards in Miami's miraculous win over New England on Sunday. That performance moved Gore into fifth on the NFL's all-time scrimmage yards list (18,350), surpassing my NFL Network colleague LaDainian Tomlinson (18,456). Notably, everyone in the top 10 besides Gore is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Gore came into the league in 2005 and has since made a Hall of Fame-worthy career on his physical running style, his success running between the tackles and his cutting ability. He's never been the flashiest guy on the field, but he always seems to have 100-plus yards at the end of the game.

There's no question that Gore will have a bust in Canton, Ohio, and to me, he should be a first-ballot guy. Gore currently ranks fourth all-time in rushing yards (14,734), behind Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders. The five-time Pro Bowler has been available throughout his 15-year career, with the exception of a game here or there.

Gore isn't the only Hall of Fame-worthy running back in the league right now, though. Here's a breakdown of guys who could -- and should -- get gold jackets.

Veterans who are Hall of Fame locks

There's a group of vets who have gotten lost in the shuffle this season. Having played for at least 10 seasons, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch and LeSean McCoy have put together exceptional careers. Peterson and Lynch both came into the league in 2007 and found success with running styles that were the polar opposites of each other. With exceptional cutting ability and speed, Peterson has constructed a career plum full of big-time plays -- he's still exploding for 90-yard runs at age 33, easily outpacing his far younger Washington teammates in yards from scrimmage (1,052). Peterson has been the league's rushing leader three times, is one of seven backs to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season and sits ninth in all-time rushing yards (13,148). The four-time first-team All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler should not only make it to Canton, but should be a first-ballot selection.

The 32-year-old Lynch, who was placed on IR by the Raiders in October with a core muscle injury, has flattened defenders for years -- even after his short retirement -- with his punishing running style. He was an essential piece of the Seahawks' Super Bowl teams (always hand the ball to Marshawn on the 1) and has one of the most Herculean runs of all time (See: Beast Quake) on his resume. Statistically, the five-time Pro Bowler has six 1,000-yard rushing seasons, amassed 10,379 career rushing yards and led the league in rushing TDs twice. Lynch's status as an icon and the fact that he let his play do all the talking certainly helps him. It's time to sit back and wait for his short -- but epic -- speech.

Playing for the Bills in his 10th NFL season, McCoy, 30, was one of the best running backs in the league for several years. His elusiveness and catching ability make him a nightmare to tackle, and he's often been his team's offensive centerpiece. Along with making the postseason three times with the Eagles, the six-time Pro Bowler was a major reason Buffalo ended its 17-year playoff drought in 2017. Shady also has the numbers to earn football immortality, with more than 10,000 rushing yards.

The curious case of Le'Veon Bell

The absence of Le'Veon Bell has been all the rage in Pittsburgh this season, and I'm anxiously waiting to see what happens this offseason, with his chance to hit free agency presumably at hand. He'll see plenty more success in his return, but I think he's already done enough in his five pro seasons thus far to earn a gold jacket. Bell has the production, yes (his career per-game rushing mark of 86.1 yards ranks ninth all time), but the greatest selling point is this: He is the reason the running back position has changed drastically in the last several years. As a running back who could line up almost anywhere on offense, Bell demonstrated just how much of an advantage a dual-threat back could provide. (From 2013 to '17, Bell racked up 312 catches, easily the most among running backs in that span, and 7,996 scrimmage yards, second in the NFL, for a Steelers team that went 53-26 and reached the playoffs four times.) In today's NFL, the most successful offensive units all possess varying versions of Bell.

Young bucks on Hall of Fame pace

When talking about the four best running backs in 2018, four players immediately come to mind -- Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey. Elliott and Gurley have been at the top of the league since they were rookies. Zeke has brought the Cowboys back to relevance since coming into the league in 2016, and he could easily follow Cowboys great Emmitt Smith into Canton if he continues his current pace -- consider that among qualified players, Elliott's career per-game mark of 102.0 rushing yards per game is second all time, behind only Jim Brown (104.3).

Gurley has essentially mimicked what Bell did in Pittsburgh but has somehow been an even faster, more explosive version, which is hard to imagine. As a featured player in Sean McVay's Rams scheme, Gurley is on pace to do some crazy things, statistically. Consider that he's averaged 1,576.5 scrimmage yards and 13.5 touchdowns per season in his career (including 13 games in 2018). If he keeps that average up going forward, he'll have 14,188.5 career scrimmage yards and 121.5 career touchdowns by the end of the four-year contract extension he signed in the offseason, which would be 12th and fifth all-time in a player's first nine NFL seasons.

There's no denying that Barkley and McCaffrey have been phenomenal in 2018. The Giants rookie, who's on pace for more than 2,100 scrimmage yards, is having one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history, breaking records by the week. McCaffrey has elevated his game to the next level -- maybe two or three levels up -- in Year 2 with the Panthers, taking a lot of pressure off Cam Newton.

The one concern for these four guys is health. Are they going to stay healthy enough to continue playing at a high level? You know what they say: A player's No. 1 ability is availability. They have to stay on the field, just as my aforementioned Hall of Fame locks have.

Former NFL rushing leader and current 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 15.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from Week 14's rankings.

1
Ezekiel Elliott
RB
Cowboys

Previous rank: No. 1

Zeke had a career-high 40 touches in last week's win over division-rival Philly -- the fourth-most by any player since 2009. He leads the league in carries, rushing yards and scrimmage yards, and he's on pace for 2,171 scrimmage yards by season's end.

2018 stats: 13 games | 268 att | 1,262 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 65 rec | 502 rec yds | 3 rec TDs

2
Saquon Barkley
RB
Giants
1

Previous rank: No. 3

Barkley had a career-high 170 rushing yards, including a 78-yard TD scamper, in last week's road win. The rookie has been one of the best running backs in the league, ranking no lower than fourth in all major rushing categories, and has made a huge push for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

2018 stats: 13 games | 209 att | 1,124 rush yds | 5.4 ypc | 9 rush TDs | 78 rec | 629 rec yds | 4 rec TDs

3
Christian McCaffrey
RB
Panthers
1

Previous rank: No. 4

In Sunday's loss, McCaffrey notched his sixth-straight game with at least 100 scrimmage yards. The highlight of his performance was his pair of rushing scores, which brought his scrimmage TD total to 12 since Week 8.

2018 stats: 13 games | 179 att | 926 rush yds | 5.2 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 86 rec | 701 rec yds | 6 rec TDs

4
Todd Gurley
RB
Rams
2

Previous rank: No. 2

Gurley was well below his season averages against the Bears, finishing with just 28 rushing yards and 58 scrimmage yards (both season lows). The Rams were in a funk all night offensively, and Gurley's lack of success was due, in part, to a lack of opportunities.

2018 stats: 13 games | 244 att | 1,203 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 15 rush TDs | 49 rec | 504 rec yds | 4 rec TDs

5
Alvin Kamara
RB
Saints
3

Previous rank: No. 2

Kamara hasn't been quite the player we saw in September, but he's still been effective by making his touches count. He'll need to bring it against the Panthers on Monday night with the Saints aiming to hang on to the top seed in the NFC.

2018 stats: 13 games | 173 att | 793 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 11 rush TDs | 70 rec | 591 rec yds | 4 rec TDs

6
Aaron Jones
RB
Packers

Previous rank: No. 6

In Green Bay's first game without Mike McCarthy, Jones had one of his most productive outings of the season, tying his season-high in carries (17) and touches (20). He finished with 106 scrimmage yards (78 rushing, 28 receiving) and a rushing TD.

2018 stats: 11 games | 129 att | 720 rush yds | 5.6 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 26 rec | 206 rec yds | 1 rec TD

7
Phillip Lindsay
RB
Broncos

Previous rank: No. 7

Against the 49ers, Lindsay was held under 100 scrimmage yards for the first time since Week 9. He finished the game with 14 carries for 30 yards and a rushing touchdown, and four receptions for 21 yards. Even with last week's lack of production, Lindsay leads the league in yards per carry (5.8).

2018 stats: 13 games | 168 att | 967 rush yds | 5.8 ypc | 9 rush TDs | 29 rec | 210 rec yds | 1 rec TD

8
Joe Mixon
RB
Bengals
1

Previous rank: No. 9

Mixon logged the third 100-yard rushing game of his career last time out and continues to be a bright spot in Cincinnati's struggling offense. The second-year pro leads the Bengals in offensive touches, scrimmage yards, scrimmage yards per game and scrimmage TDs.

2018 stats: 11 games | 180 att | 866 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 38 rec | 283 rec yds | 1 rec TD

9
Nick Chubb
RB
Browns
2

Previous rank: No. 11

Chubb continues to provide balance for the Browns and has been a big reason they've won three of their last four games. After getting in the end zone again on Sunday, the rookie running back is the first Browns player with a rushing touchdown in five straight games since Gregg Pruitt in 1975.

2018 stats: 13 games | 144 att | 760 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 16 rec | 150 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

10
Lamar Miller
RB
Texans

Previous rank: No. 10

Like Phillip Lindsay, Miller was held under 100 scrimmage yards for the first time since Week 9 with 52 (33 rushing, 19 receiving) against the Colts. Even so, Miller is averaging 75.8 rushing yards per game this season -- tied for sixth in the NFL with Pittsburgh's James Conner.

2018 stats: 12 games | 190 att | 909 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 4 rush TDs | 23 rec | 163 rec yds | 1 rec TD

11
Tarik Cohen
RB
Bears
2

Previous rank: No. 13

After a solid performance in prime time, Cohen surpassed the 1,000-scrimmage-yards mark for the first time in his career. He currently leads the Bears in receptions (63) and receiving yards (679).

2018 stats: 13 games | 83 att | 384 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 63 rec | 679 rec yds | 4 rec TDs

12
Mark Ingram
RB
Saints
3

Previous rank: No. 15

Ingram's fourth-quarter touchdown run against the Bucs tied him with Deuce McAllister for the most rushing touchdowns (49) in Saints history. I expect him to break the record soon, possibly this week.

2018 stats: 9 games | 110 att | 519 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 16 rec | 136 rec yds | 1 rec TD

13
Adrian Peterson
RB
Redskins
1

Previous rank: No. 12

Peterson had a tough go against the Giants, averaging 1.6 yards per carry, and has struggled since losing key offensive players to injury, including linemen Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff, along with quarterbacks(!) Alex Smith and Colt McCoy.

2018 stats: 13 games | 202 att | 872 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 17 rec | 180 rec yds | 1 rec TD

14
Chris Carson
RB
Seahawks
NR

Previous rank: Not ranked

The Seahawks boast the league's No. 1 rushing offense and Carson is at the center of it. Seattle has leaned on Carson time and time again, and Monday night was no different as his fourth-quarter touchdown run sealed the win over Minnesota.

2018 stats: 11 games | 179 att | 794 rush yds | 4.4 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 13 rec | 127 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

15
Derrick Henry
RB
Titans
NR

Previous rank: Not ranked

How could I not put Henry on this list after THAT performance? In case you missed it, Henry had 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns, highlighted by a 99-yard touchdown run (tied NFL record). It was like he was plucked right out of a video game all night.

2018 stats: 13 games | 145 att | 712 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 9 rush TDs | 12 rec | 78 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Dropped out: James Conner, Steelers (previously No. 8); James White, Patriots (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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