RB Index, Week 4: Chiefs' LeSean McCoy among best RB2s

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The New York Giants' backfield belongs to Wayne Gallman for the foreseeable future.

The RB2 replaces Saquon Barkley as the starter heading into Week 4 -- the Giants are also working out several free-agent running backs -- after the 2018 Offensive Rookie of the Year suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 3. Barkley is expected to be out for four to six weeks.

Gallman was quiet in relief of Barkley on Sunday, finishing with five carries for 13 yards (2.6 yards per carry). Gallman also got the ball in Week 1's blowout loss to Dallas, when he had two carries for 17 yards and a TD. He must be much better going forward if the Giants want to continue winning with Daniel Jones.

Looking at the rest of the league's RB2s, there are several players who have shown out in the first three weeks. Here are my top five RB2s right now:

1) LeSean McCoy, Chiefs: The 31-year-old running back has reunited with Andy Reid, and it feels so good! McCoy has the knowledge and play-making ability to be a real asset in an already good Chiefs' offense, and that's exactly what he's been since signing with Kansas City after the Bills released him last month. With Patrick Mahomes carrying the load, McCoy is more dangerous between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. Through three games, McCoy is averaging 5.4 yards per carry (tying his career high) and has gotten into the end zone twice -- something he did just three times all last season. McCoy got the start in Week 3 in place of injured starter Damien Williams before tweaking an ankle injury that caused him to exit the game in the fourth quarter, but he's expected to play in Week 4.

2) Matt Breida, 49ers: The third-year 49ers running back has been a staple in this offense since he signed with the team as an undrafted free agent. Breida is an RB1-caliber player, but John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan keep signing guys to play ahead of him -- first Jerick McKinnon in 2018, then Tevin Coleman this past offseason -- but Breida continues to produce when he gets his opportunities. Averaging 5.0 yards per carry for his career, Breida is also an asset in the pass game and a perfect fit for Shanahan's offense. Even if Coleman returns soon from the ankle injury he suffered in Week 1, Breida has earned a fair share of the carries.

3) Latavius Murray, Saints: The veteran back was signed to fill Mark Ingram's role and complement Alvin Kamara's dynamic, shifty running style with more of a ground-and-pound approach. Three weeks in, Murray has 13 carries for 52 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and a rushing TD, as well as three catches for 20 yards. With Drew Brees sidelined due to his thumb injury, the Saints figure to continue to lean heavily on the run game, and you know what that means: more touches for Murray.

4) Tarik Cohen, Bears: Cohen has started a couple games this season, but rookie David Montgomery is clearly the lead ball carrier in Chicago's offense. Despite a slow start to this season, Cohen is still the ultimate weapon as a hybrid rusher/pass-catcher in Matt Nagy's system. Don't forget about what he did in 2018, when he led the Bears with 71 catches and was second on the team in rushing (444 yards), averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

5) Duke Johnson, Texans: Trading for the former Cleveland Brown has paid off for the Texans so far, especially after losing Lamar Miller (knee) for the season. Backing up Carlos Hyde, who was acquired from the Chiefs before the season, Johnson is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 9.2 yards per catch through three games. He may not light up your fantasy football team, but he's an important piece in this offense, particularly on pass downs.

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 4, here is MJD's pecking order:

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

Check out the FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote.

RANK

1

Ezekiel Elliott

1

2019 stats: 3 games | 55 att | 289 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 5 rec | 33 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Zeke is off to the best start of his young career, with 289 rushing yards through Week 3. With this offensive line and the improvement of Dak Prescott, Zeke could top the 1,631 rushing yards he accrued in his rookie year.

RANK

2

Christian McCaffrey

3

2019 stats: 3 games | 59 att | 318 rush yds | 5.4 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 15 rec | 132 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

McCaffrey returned to his dominant ways against the Cardinals, racking up 153 yards on the ground. Unlike the hobbled Cam Newton, replacement quarterback Kyle Allen is healthy -- meaning defenses have to account for him, and McCaffrey is likely to keep his production up. Believe it or not, the Panthers' RB1 has more scrimmage yards through three games this season (450) than he did at this point a year ago (428).

RANK

3

Dalvin Cook

1

2019 stats: 3 games | 57 att | 375 rush yds | 6.6 ypc | 4 rush TDs | 9 rec | 79 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

I felt like Cook could be this guy when he came into the league as a second-round pick in 2017, so it's nice to see him healthy and leading Kevin Stefanski's offense. He's on pace for a massive campaign just three weeks in, and I'm guessing Minnesota will continue to give the rock to the productive running back -- especially with Kirk Cousins' shoddy decision-making.

RANK

4

Alvin Kamara

3

2019 stats: 3 games | 42 att | 211 rush yds | 5.0 ypc | 1 rush TD | 17 rec | 179 rec yds | 1 rec TD

I love watching Kamara tear up defenses. Before the season started, I said he was the most valuable running back in 2019, and we found out Sunday that I was right. Kamara went into the sea of 12s and tallied 69 rushing yards, a season-high 94 receiving yards and a pair of TDs to lead the Saints to a victory -- without Drew Brees. Think about it: The Giants lost Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury and won their first game. Todd Gurley isn't close to the special back he was last season, and the Rams are 3-0. Christian McCaffrey is doing everything possible, and the Panthers are a one-win team. Zeke and Dalvin Cook are the only other RBs in the "most valuable" conversation right now.

RANK

5

Le'Veon Bell

2

2019 stats: 3 games | 56 att | 163 rush yds | 2.9 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 20 rec | 121 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Bell hasn't been able to get much going with the Jets, who are without franchise quarterback Sam Darnold and a heap of others. Once Darnold returns from mono, Bell's production should increase. We can only hope.

RANK

6

Todd Gurley

2019 stats: 3 games | 44 att | 203 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 1 rush TD | 4 rec | 8 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Gurley's 43 scrimmage yards against the Browns were his lowest total in the Sean McVay era. Gurley had 15 touches in the contest, but he couldn't get anything going. The Rams have worked around this so far, but they (mainly quarterback Jared Goff) will need Gurley to be special the closer we get to the postseason.

RANK

7

Nick Chubb

2

2019 stats: 3 games | 58 att | 233 rush yds | 4.0 ypc | 1 rush TD | 11 rec | 81 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Chubb played well against Wade Phillips' defense, finishing with 27 touches for 131 scrimmage yards. He has been the most consistent part of the Browns' offense this season due to his explosive running style and ability to create big plays. I know Cleveland wants to get Baker Mayfield and the pass game up to speed, but this offense should continue to go through Chubb.

RANK

8

Mark Ingram

4

2019 stats: 3 games | 43 att | 257 rush yds | 6.0 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 6 rec | 62 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Ingram has been a great complement for Lamar Jackson in the backfield, and he more than did his part against the Chiefs (16 carries for 103 yards and three TDs). As good a runner as Jackson is, Ingram is the reason the Ravens have the No. 1 rushing offense right now.

RANK

9

Aaron Jones

4

2019 stats: 3 games | 46 att | 174 rush yds | 3.8 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 6 rec | 38 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Jones averaged 1.9 yards per carry against the Broncos, but he hit pay dirt twice. Having a player who can come through in goal-line situations is so important, and Jones has proven that the Packers' offense can count on him in the red zone.

RANK

10

Marlon Mack

2019 stats: 3 games | 61 att | 299 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 4 rec | 26 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Mack continues to improve every time he steps on the field. Currently third in the league in rushing yards, Mack is doing all the right things, and it's exactly what the Colts need.

RANK

11

Derrick Henry

3

2019 stats: 3 games | 51 att | 210 rush yds | 4.1 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 4 rec | 89 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Henry and the entire Titans' offense struggled against the Jaguars on "Thursday Night Football." The former Heisman Trophy winner had 44 rushing yards and a TD on 17 carries, snapping his streak at six straight games with at least 80 rushing yards. This offense can't afford to have a mediocre day by the star running back.

RANK

12

Matt Breida

NR

2019 stats: 3 games | 41 att | 226 rush yds | 5.5 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 3 rec | 31 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Breida -- currently ninth in the league in rushing yards -- has steadily improved since Week 1, when he had 2.5 rushing yards per carry and 37 scrimmage yards. In Weeks 2-3 combined, Breida has averaged 7.3 rushing yards per carry and 55 scrimmage yards per game. He's finding his rhythm in Kyle Shanahan's offense and has a real shot to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a season for the first time in his career.

RANK

13

Austin Ekeler

2

2019 stats: 3 games | 38 att | 160 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 19 rec | 208 rec yds | 2 rec TDs

Ekeler's production dipped slightly in Week 3, but his production is what I thought it would be. He's a good running back. He is. He's just not Melvin Gordon -- and that's why the Chargers have blown leads in their two losses.

RANK

14

Josh Jacobs

2019 stats: 3 games | 45 att | 228 rush yds | 5.1 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 1 rec | 28 rec yds | 0 rec TDs

Jacobs leads all rookie running backs in rushing yards and rushing TDs ( Tony Pollard is the next closest with 149 rush yards and one rush TD). Jon Gruden told The Athletic's Jimmy Durkin on Monday that he wants Jacobs more involved in the pass game going forward. Given that he has only one reception all season (one for 28 yards in Week 1), I'd say that might be a good idea, Jon.

RANK

15

Chris Carson

4

2019 stats: 3 games | 45 att | 159 rush yds | 3.5 ypc | 1 rush TD | 1 rec | 10 rec yds | 1 rec TD

Carson is hanging on by a thread after fumbling the ball three times (losing all three) in as many games. He's not a top-15 running back right now, so after prior success is taken out of the equation here next week, there's a real chance he slides out -- barring a major turnaround. His RB1 job might be hanging in the balance three weeks in with his fumbling issues.

Dropped out: Saquon Barkley, Giants (previously No. 1).

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

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