RB Index, Week 3: Lamar Jackson heads list of top running QBs

Lamar Jackson producing solely with his arm lasted all but two seconds.

After throwing five touchdown passes while logging just three carries (for 6 yards) in the season opener, the Baltimore Ravens' second-year quarterback made defenders pay with his legs in Week 2, rushing for a career-high 120 yards on 16 totes. It was a week that saw Jackson rank third in the league among all players in rushing yards, while the former king of running quarterbacks, Cam Newton, faltered in prime time. With Newton, who holds several QB rushing records, dealing with a lingering foot injury and having just five carries for -2 yards through two games, this feels like a passing of the quarterback-mobility torch from Cam to Lamar.

During Jackson's seven starts as a rookie in 2018, he averaged 17 carries and 79.4 yards per game (both numbers tops among 34 qualifying QBs), and his 147 carries set a single-season NFL record for a quarterback. This year, Jackson is currently on pace for 152 carries and 1,008 rushing yards. That would make him just the second quarterback to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season, with the projected total falling just shy of Michael Vick's single-season QB record (1,039).

It's obvious -- at least to me -- that Jackson is the NFL's best running quarterback right now, but there are others who deserve some love. Here are the rest of my top five running QBs at this moment:

2) Russell Wilson, Seahawks: The Seahawks' run game has improved over the last couple seasons with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny in the backfield, so their five-time Pro Bowl quarterback is no longer the go-to rusher. But he is still one of the better non-RB rushers in the league and isn't afraid to use his mobility. Just last week, Wilson help put away the Pittsburgh Steelers with a pair of runs late in the fourth quarter. He currently has the second-most rushing yards among active quarterbacks (3,681), behind only Newton (4,806).

3) Josh Allen, Bills: Allen led the Bills in rushing yards (631) and rushing TDs (8) in 2018. The second-year QB, who has a pair of rush TDs in as many games this season, is a tremendous athlete who doesn't get enough credit and has the rare ability to get first downs or convert in the red zone with his legs if a play breaks down. He is improving as a passer, but his strength is definitely running the ball.

4) Deshaun Watson, Texans: Watson is a pocket passer with the tools to be a run-first quarterback. The Texans focused on protecting their franchise QB this offseason, and it has allowed Bill O'Brien to utilize his dual-threat QB more in the run game. With a pair of rush TDs in two games, Watson has the potential to be one of the top rushers at his position in 2019.

5) Dak Prescott, Cowboys: Prescott is a runner with above-average passing ability. We saw him take over with his legs against the Seahawks in last year's NFC wild-card game, when he rushed up the middle for 16 yards and then plunged 1 more yard into the end zone on the very next play to put the Cowboys up by 10 with two minutes left in the game. Prescott's running ability helps open holes for Ezekiel Elliott and allows the QB to extend plays and find receivers downfield.

During each week of the 2019 NFL season, former All-Pro running back and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will examine all RBs and rank his top 15. For the first quarter of the season, the Ground Index rankings are based on a combination of:

1) Player accomplishments prior to the 2019 season.
2) Weekly performances, while considering strength of opponent.

Rankings will be solely judged on this season's efforts following Week 4. Now, let's get to it. Entering Week 3, here is MJD's pecking order:

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

1
Saquon Barkley
RB
Giants
1

2019 stats: 2 games | 29 att | 227 rush yds | 7.8 ypc | 1 rush TD | 7 rec | 47 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

No matter how much the Giants struggle, Barkley never seems to have a really bad game. With his 27-yard touchdown run on the Giants' first drive, the second-year running back tied a franchise record with Odell Beckham Jr. for most TDs (16) in his first 18 games. Keep giving him the ball.

2
Ezekiel Elliott
RB
Cowboys
3

2019 stats: 2 games | 36 att | 164 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 3 rec | 19 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Zeke's 111 rushing yards in Week 2 marked his 20th career game over the century mark, and it was his 11th with 100-plus rush yards and at least one rush TD (both figures lead the NFL since 2016). The two-time rushing champ hasn't skipped a beat after missing training camp and the preseason.

3
Le'Veon Bell
RB
Jets
1

2019 stats: 2 games | 38 att | 128 rush yds | 3.4 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 16 rec | 93 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Cleveland's defense made Bell work for every single yard Monday, yet he still finished with 129 scrimmage yards. Considering the Jets' current state, Bell had better get used to facing loaded boxes.

4
Dalvin Cook
RB
Vikings
3

2019 stats: 2 games | 41 att | 265 rush yds | 6.5 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 5 rec | 46 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Cook had another stellar performance in Week 2 and now leads the league in rushing yards, which is why he vaults into the top five of this list. Now, if only Kirk Cousins could do his part, the Vikings' offense would be tough to defend.

5
Christian McCaffrey
RB
Panthers
4

2019 stats: 2 games | 35 att | 165 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 12 rec | 97 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Cam Newton's lack of mobility allowed Todd Bowles' defense to focus all of its attention on McCaffrey. The result was not favorable for the back, as he had just 37 rushing yards on 16 carries and 16 receiving yards on two catches. McCaffrey's a great player, but he needs some help on offense.

6
Todd Gurley
RB
Rams

2019 stats: 2 games | 30 att | 160 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 1 rush TD | 4 rec | 8 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Gurley hasn't been regularly used in the passing game like he was in 2018, but this could change at any time. Keeping Gurley fresh and leading the way on the ground is the focus right now -- and it's working, based on his 5.3 yards per carry.

7
Alvin Kamara
RB
Saints
4

2019 stats: 2 games | 26 att | 142 rush yds | 5.5 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 8 rec | 87 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

The Saints star wasn't the same after Drew Brees exited with a thumb injury. I expect Kamara to bounce back quickly. He figures to carry the offense over the next two months.

8
Derrick Henry
RB
Titans

2019 stats: 2 games | 34 att | 165 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 3 rec | 87 rec yds | 1 rec TD

The Titans' RB1 has been productive out of the gate, adding another near-100-yard performance in Week 2. Henry has put up 80-plus rushing yards in six straight games (longest active streak in the NFL), establishing himself as one of the more consistent backs right now.

9
Nick Chubb
RB
Browns

2019 stats: 2 games | 35 att | 137 rush yds | 3.9 ypc | 1 rush TD | 7 rec | 46 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Chubb provided some big plays for the Browns in prime time, but the 19-yard touchdown run was definitely his best effort. The second-year back forced eight missed tackles on 22 touches against the Jets (most by Chubb in a game in his career), per Pro Football Focus. His steady improvement is promising.

10
Marlon Mack
RB
Colts

2019 stats: 2 games | 45 att | 225 rush yds | 5.0 ypc | 1 rush TD | 2 rec | 12 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Mack cooled off after a monster Week 1 outing, racking up 63 scrimmage yards against the Titans. It looks as if Mack could start splitting carries with Jordan Wilkins, who went off on the ground Sunday with 82 yards on five attempts, so Mack better make his touches count.

11
Chris Carson
RB
Seahawks
1

2019 stats: 2 games | 30 att | 106 rush yds | 3.5 ypc | 1 rush TD | 9 rec | 61 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Carson's steady play against the Steelers moved him up one spot. Having caught all three of his targets on Sunday for 27 yards, Carson could become a readily used pass catcher for Russell Wilson going forward.

12
Mark Ingram
RB
Ravens
1

2019 stats: 2 games | 27 att | 154 rush yds | 5.7 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 2 rec | 30 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Jackson may have had the bigger day on the ground for Baltimore, but Ingram certainly did his part against the Cardinals. The veteran running back saw action in the pass game for the first time this season with a 20-yard reception that put the offense in the red zone to set up a TD late in the first half.

13
Aaron Jones
RB
Packers
NR

2019 stats: 2 games | 36 att | 155 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 1 rush TD | 5 rec | 34 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Before Sunday's game against Minnesota, Jones averaged 31.8 rush yards per game vs. NFC North teams (nine career games). He looked much different this time out, with 23 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown, along with four receptions for 34 yards in the pass game. The offense needs this kind of performance weekly from Jones if the Packers want to keep their division lead.

14
Josh Jacobs
RB
Raiders
NR

2019 stats: 2 games | 35 att | 184 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 1 rec | 28 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

The Raiders rookie was the best back in his draft class, and he's lived up to that hype by ranking fourth in rushing yards two games into the season. In Week 2, Jacobs rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries (8.2 yards per carry) -- and 80 of those yards came after contact, per Pro Football Focus. He's brought a much-needed balance to the Raiders' offense, which has been nice to see.

15
Austin Ekeler
RB
Chargers
NR

2019 stats: 2 games | 29 att | 124 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 12 rec | 163 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

Ekeler has produced as the Chargers starter, with four touchdowns in the first two games. He played well against the Lions, but that fumble at the goal line can't happen.

Dropped out: David Johnson, Cardinals (previously No. 11); Joe Mixon, Bengals (No. 14); Leonard Fournette, Jaguars (No. 15).

The Ground Index delivered by FedEx ranks NFL running back performances all season long. What is the possibility Ezekiel Elliott jumps all the way up to No. 1 in next week's ranking? Check out the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.