RB Index: Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley lead backs I trust the most

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The NFL season is getting down to the nitty-gritty with the Divisional Round just a few days away. And with massive goals hanging in the balance, running backs will be separated into two categories -- the men and the boys.

A plethora of running back talent will take the field this weekend, including the 2018 season's rushing-yards leader in Ezekiel Elliott, last year's Offensive Player of the Year in Todd Gurley (he's expected to return from his knee injury for Saturday's game) and a Super Bowl LI star in James White. But they aren't the only backs who could step up in a big moment.

After scanning the eight teams still alive in the playoffs, here are the 10 running backs I trust the most right now:

1
Ezekiel Elliott
RB
Cowboys

As Zeke goes, so go the Cowboys. It's been the story all season. The two-time league rushing leader got better as the season progressed, averaging 105.7 rush yards and 152.9 scrimmage yards per game since Amari Cooper joined the team at midseason, including last week's wild-card win. He gained 169 scrimmage yards against a very good Seahawks defense. It's no surprise that Zeke is Dallas' go-to guy in critical situations. He's earned that role.

2
Todd Gurley
RB
Rams

Gurley participated in Tuesday's walkthrough after sitting out for three weeks with a knee injury. After a lengthy rest period, he should return as the centerpiece of Sean McVay's offense against Dallas on Saturday. The star running back was nearly unstoppable in 2018 -- with 21 scrimmage touchdowns -- and iced games with his selfless play. Similar to Zeke in Dallas, the Rams will lean on the 2017 Offensive Player of the Year with the game on the line and I'd trust him every time.

3
Alvin Kamara
RB
Saints

Kamara balled out the last time the Saints played the Eagles, logging 108 scrimmage yards and one touchdown in the Week 11 win. He is a huge mismatch out of the backfield and is clutch in the red zone -- he's scored 18 scrimmage TDs this season. His versatility and talent allows Sean Payton to use him in a variety of ways.

4
Mark Ingram
RB
Saints

As important as Alvin Kamara is to the Saints' pass game, Ingram is equally important. The veteran's presence in the backfield forces the defense to put another player in the box, and that opens up play-action and chunk plays downfield for Drew Brees. Ingram, who can also pick up blitzes well, is a proven gamer no matter the situation.

5
Melvin Gordon
RB
Chargers

Even with two banged-up knees, I trust Gordon based on what his presence does for the Chargers' offense. The unit operates on a different level when Gordon is in the backfield, and he has made plays even when he's not 100 percent. The second factor keeping Gordon at No. 5 on this list is the fact that I don't trust the Patriots' run defense. Gordon, even if he's not at full strength, can do well against New England and help the Chargers close the game out.

6
Marlon Mack
RB
Colts

My trust in Mack has a lot to do with his offensive line. The big boys up front have paved the way for Mack and the Colts' ground attack all season long. The second-year running back has shown he has what it takes to be a starter with his speed in the open field, ability to run through tackles and big performances in late December and early January.

7
C.J. Anderson
RB
Rams

Although the Rams locked up a playoff berth way back in Week 13, they were still fighting for a first-round bye in the final weeks of the regular season. Anderson stepped up in a big way with Todd Gurley sidelined in the last two contests. He was signed on a Tuesday and ripped off back-to-back 100-yard games in the ensuing weeks. I'll trust any back who does that, especially behind a quality Rams O-line.

8
Sony Michel
RB
Patriots

The Patriots relied on Michel late in the regular season and he played well in those situations. The rookie has provided balance to the offense and although he won't be the focal point of the Patriots' offense (that's obviously Tom Brady), Michel does enough to set up play-action and keep drives going.

9
James White
RB
Patriots

White has proven to be a huge mismatch against linebackers and safeties with his ability to catch out of the backfield. The Patriots do a good job of finding ways to get him the ball in space, and he's dangerous in those situations. Plus, he's performed well on the biggest stage already, so I know the moment won't faze him.

10
Damien Williams
RB
Chiefs

With all the attention on Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, Williams should face light boxes and have plenty of opportunities to gain chunk yards in both the run and pass games. In his three starts late in the season, Williams recorded 5.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns, so I know he can be effective. Can he bring it in the postseason? That's the question.

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