NFL's leading rusher in 2015? Beware of a motivated Adrian Peterson

In recent years, the NFL rushing title has been passed around like a hot potato. In fact, over the past six seasons, six different players have led the league in ground production:

2014:DeMarco Murray (1,845 yards)
2013:LeSean McCoy (1,607)
2012:Adrian Peterson (2,097)
2011:Maurice Jones-Drew (1,606)
2010:Arian Foster (1,616)
2009:Chris Johnson (2,006)

And looking at last year's top five rushers, questions abound:

1) DeMarco Murray: How much of the load will he share in Philly's loaded backfield?
2) Le'Veon Bell: How far behind the pace will he fall during a three-game suspension?
3) LeSean McCoy: How effective can he be running behind a suspect offensive line in Buffalo?
4) Marshawn Lynch: When will his age, hard-charging style and heavy workload catch up with him?
5) Justin Forsett: Is he a one-hit wonder?

With all of that in mind, who do you think will lead the NFL in rushing in 2015?

I'll go with Adrian Peterson, for three reasons:

**1)** I think he'll be fresh and energized after missing 15 games in 2014; 
[he looks to be in optimum shape](http://www.nfl.com/videos/minnesota-vikings/0ap3000000495540/How-is-Adrian-Peterson-fitting-in-at-Vikings-OTAs). Until last season, he'd averaged 290 carries per year since entering the NFL in 2007. 
**2)** After Nov. 15, the 
[Vikings](/teams/minnesotavikings/profile?team=MIN) will play 
[five games outdoors](http://www.nfl.com/schedules/2015/REG/Vikings) -- four at their temporary open-air home and 
[the regular-season finale](http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2016010310/2015/REG17/vikings@packers) in Green Bay -- in conditions that presumably will make it tough to pass, leading to a potential surge in carries for Peterson down the stretch. 
**3)** I think offensive coordinator Norv Turner likes, deep down, to run the ball, and is someone who'd prefer to split plays equally between the run and the pass. 

Peterson is a tremendous competitor who I'm sure will be ready to go in 2015. This situation just seems to set up well for him. To me, the three most logical candidates are DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy and Marshawn Lynch.

Murray led the league in rushing by nearly 500 yards last season. And while he has changed teams since, leaving the Cowboys' imposing offensive line in the rearview, Murray joined a franchise in Philly with a fine O-line and an RB-friendly system. McCoy, the man Murray replaced, walks into a situation in Buffalo where the offense is committed to running the ball. However, McCoy's new offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, will have to adjust his scheme from what he ran in San Francisco -- Frank Gore was more of an inside runner, whereas McCoy earns his keep as a space runner. Lynch has become one of the league's most consistent backs over his last four years in Seattle, and the Seahawks love to pound the football. (Although they'll miss center Max Unger, who went to New Orleans in the Jimmy Graham trade.)

Now, the player I would like to select is Le'Veon Bell -- but with the Pittsburgh Steelers back facing a three-game suspension, I'm forced to opt for someone else. Thus, I'll settle on Murray. I believe he'll be a man on a mission to prove that last year was no fluke. Adrian Peterson's the transcendent talent of his generation. Since he stepped foot in the NFL, he has been the measuring stick for running backs. No player of the past 10 years comes close to his rare combination of speed, power, relentlessness and elusiveness.

After missing 15 games last year, he has fresh legs and a Steve Smith-style chip on his shoulder. You can have the field. I'll take Peterson. I'll go with Houston's Arian Foster. He missed three games last season and still managed 1,246 yards on a team with a suspect quarterback. The Texans added Brian Hoyer, but the QB position remains suspect. That means the Texans -- who led the league in rushing attempts last season with 551 -- will run the ball a lot again.

A healthy Foster can be expected to put up about 1,500 yards, which could be enough to lead the pass-happy league in 2015. Some might question Peterson missing nearly a full season of playing time, but if the beastly running back showed us anything when he came off a torn ACL to rush for 2,097 yards, it's that he's not mortal on a football field. Peterson still possesses the best combination of size, speed and power in the NFL.

Norv Turner is famous for riding running backs with Hall of Fame success, and in Peterson, he has the perfect workhorse. A.D. will immediately be the focal point of an offense that got by with Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata in 2014. With Teddy Bridgewater guiding the system, the Vikings will have a potent run-pass combo. In addition: never, ever, ever, ever underestimate Peterson with something to prove. Never. I'll try to pick an upset to keep things interesting. Everywhere that offensive line coach Bill Callahan goes, monster running games follow. With Callahan now in Washington, Alfred Morris could be the beneficiary this season.

The Redskins drafted Matt Jones to help out the running game, but Morris is a better option as the every-down pounder. Considering the rotating cast of quarterbacks last year, the Redskins were committed to the run. Morris has always been an underrated power runner. With Callahan around and the line improved, he could top 1,600 yards again, like in his rookie season.

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