- NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2018" airs every Monday at 8 p.m. ET, unveiling a new set of 10 players each week. One running back was revealed between Nos. 11 and 20: Alvin Kamara (No. 20). As we head toward the 2018 campaign, NFL Network analyst and former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew lists his own ranking of the league's top 10 running backs.*
Bell's a dual-threat weapon who's earned the right to be paid as such. In 2017, he ran the ball 321 times for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns, while hauling in 85 passes (second-most on the team) for 655 yards and two scores. Bell's target in negotiations has been $17 million per year, which would shatter the deal Devonta Freeman signed last year that made him the highest-paid running back in the league ($41.25 million in total value, $8.25 million per year). The Steelers need to get Bell, who received the franchise tag, signed and back in the facility.
Gurley is an explosive dual-threat back for the Rams and showcased his true ability in 2017. The reigning Offensive Player of the Year finished second in the league with 1,305 yards rushing and posted a league-best 2,093 scrimmage yards (accounting for 35 percent of team's offensive output). He became only the third player in NFL history to tally 2,000 scrimmage yards, 10 rushing TDs and six TD catches in a season (joining Marshall Faulk and O.J. Simpson). He certainly has a case to be No. 1 on this list.
Johnson should have fresh legs after suffering a season-ending wrist injury in Week 1 last season. Now healthy, he should push for his 2016 numbers (1,239 yards rushing, 879 receiving) and once again be a huge mismatch in the passing game. The Cardinals will need to lean on their versatile back with a new quarterback under center.
Kamara burst onto the scene with explosive plays, both in the run and pass games. He should duplicate or surpass his sterling rookie production (728 yards rushing, 826 yards receiving, 13 TDs) in 2018. The 2017 Offensive Rookie of the Year is poised for another huge season, and could play an even bigger role right off the bat this season with Mark Ingram slated to miss the first four games due to suspension.
Even with a plethora of offensive weapons thanks to some offseason additions, the Bears' offense still must run through Howard. After rushing for at least 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons, Howard will be a key piece for first-year head coach Matt Nagy and will have to carry Chicago late in the season if the squad is going to make a playoff push.
I'm expecting Hunt to touch the ball early and often with a new starting quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and OC in Eric Bieniemy. Hunt was inconsistent in Year 1, but showed flashes throughout and led the league with 1,327 yards rushing. The question for me is how will Hunt handle running against eight-man boxes?
After a superb rookie campaign for Fournette and historic season for the Jags, expectations are sky high. The key for Fournette, who cracked 1,000 yards in 13 games last year, is staying healthy and playing all 16 games. The offense is at its best when he's on the field.
The Titans released DeMarco Murray and signed Dion Lewis this offseason, but I expect new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to lean heavily Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner. Henry's bruising running style, which helped him rack up 156 yards rushing against the Chiefs in the playoffs last season, will allow him to wear down defenses, and he'll pull away from them with his breakaway speed. Like wine, Henry gets better with age.