Ground Index

RB Index, Week 17: Saints, Cowboys among top rushing tandems

The NFL may still be a "passing league," but it's always about the run game in my world.

Luckily for me, there have been so many great rushing performances in 2018, with the highlight being Derrick Henry's monumental day in Week 14. It hasn't just been running backs making plays, though, with rookie quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen doing damage regularly with their legs.

Since running backs and quarterbacks are making splash plays in the ground game, this week I'm taking a look at rushing tandems. With consideration given to any two players in a team's backfield, here's my ranking of the league's top five rushing tandems.

1) Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints: The Saints have the perfect pair in the backfield, as Ingram is a physical, downhill runner who can break tackles, and Kamara remains one of the most dangerous players out of the backfield. They have a combined 25 scrimmage touchdowns this season, so it's no wonder they "get the call" from Deion Sanders every week. It amazes me that the Saints have a run-first offense with the league's all-time passing yards leader under center. That's how good the Kamara-Ingram tandem is.

2) Gus Edwards and Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens: This pair would not have made the list halfway through the season, but Jackson and Edwards have been one of the most dynamic duos since Jackson took over for an injured Joe Flacco in Week 11. Leading all quarterbacks with 605 rushing yards, Jackson averages the most carries per game (16.5) by a starting QB in a single season since 1970, and the most rushing yards per game (77.7) by a starting quarterback with a minimum of two starts since 1970. Edwards has also been a force out of Baltimore's backfield since Jackson became the starter, ranking fourth in the league in carries (110) and rushing yards (578) in that span. These two complement each other well, with Jackson having great speed and vision and Edwards being a physical, downhill runner.

The read option has played a big role in the Ravens' success. Since Week 11, the offense has used a read option on 111 rushes to lead the league over that span -- 43 more read-option rushes than the next-closest team (Seattle) -- with Jackson and Edwards gaining a combined 530 rushing yards on 93 attempts. The most impressive thing about this is defenses know the Ravens are running the read option and still can't stop it.

3) Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: While all other teams represented on this list have either locked up playoff berths or have a chance to on Sunday (Ravens), this duo is the only one we definitely won't see in January, despite an outstanding year from McCaffrey. A threat in both the run and pass games, the second-year pro accomplished a feat matched by only two others in NFL history. Over the weekend, McCaffrey joined Matt Forte and Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson as the only players to compile 1,000 rushing yards and 100 receptions in a season. McCaffrey's quickness and elusiveness perfectly complement the bruising style of Newton, who had 101 carries for 488 yards and four TDs before being shut down for the season after Week 15. McCaffrey's presence has taken a ton of pressure off Newton, but he still remains one of the greatest rushers of all time among QBs.

4) Chris Carson and Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks: After trying to find a consistent ground game for several years, the Seahawks boast the No. 1 rushing offense in the NFL right now. And this pair is a big reason why. Carson, who spent a majority of the 2017 season on injured reserve, has looked like a completely different back now that he's healthy. The workhorse is a hard, bruising runner who just surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the season, but he can also contribute in the pass game. Wilson is one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the game and has more timely runs than any other. His ability to scramble and make a big gain with his legs is almost unmatched.

5) Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: Zeke would have a chance at making this list with any quarterback considering how effective he has been since his 2016 rookie campaign, but Prescott's impact in the run game makes this tandem an even bigger threat. Elliott has set numerous records in his first three seasons and recently eclipsed 2,000 scrimmage yards in a season for the first time in his career. Zeke's list of accolades could take up an entire page, but we don't have time for that. While Elliott racks up yards, Prescott, who should get more carries in my opinion, has excelled around the goal line with 18 rushing TDs in his career.

Former NFL rushing leader and current NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2018 season. His rankings are based on this season's efforts alone. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 17.

NOTE: Arrows reflect changes from Week 16's rankings.

Previous rank: No. 1

With more than 100 scrimmage yards in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay, Zeke became the fifth player in NFL history with at least 4,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 304 att | 1,434 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 77 rec | 567 rec yds | 3 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 2

McCaffrey has been the guy for the Panthers' offense all season, especially now with Cam Newton sidelined. The second-year back shows out every week and has played his way into the record books. He surpassed Matt Forte for the most receptions by a running back in a single season in NFL history with 106, and he'll add to that total in Week 17.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 215 att | 1,080 rush yds | 5.0 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 106 rec | 845 rec yds | 6 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 5

In Sunday's win, Kamara had his eighth game this season with at least 100 scrimmage yards and his sixth game with at least two scrimmage TDs.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 194 att | 883 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 14 rush TDs | 81 rec | 709 rec yds | 4 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 2

Barkley's production has dipped the last two weeks, but it doesn't take away from what he's done as a rookie.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 244 att | 1,198 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 10 rush TDs | 87 rec | 688 rec yds | 4 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 6

Mixon leads the AFC in rushing yards even after a so-so day (68 rushing yards) against the Browns. He has totaled 1,063 rushing yards for the season.

 **2018 stats:** 13 games | 224 att | 1,063 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 42 rec | 294 rec yds | 1 rec TD 
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Previous rank: No. 7

Chubb chipped in 112 rushing yards to help the Browns sweep the Bengals for the first time since 2002. Just 28 rushing yards shy of 1,000 for the season, Chubb has been a pleasant surprise in this offense in Year 1.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 183 att | 972 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 18 rec | 153 rec yds | 2 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 3

Gurley has dealt with a knee injury and did not play against the Cardinals last week. It's possible he could be in street clothes again this weekend, which might be in the Rams' best interest with the postseason around the corner.

 **2018 stats:** 14 games | 256 att | 1,251 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 17 rush TDs | 59 rec | 580 rec yds | 4 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 11

In a win that secured a playoff berth, Carson had his first career multi-touchdown game and finished with 27 carries for 116 rushing yards and a pair of TDs.

 **2018 stats:** 13 games | 228 att | 1,029 rush yds | 4.5 ypc | 8 rush TDs | 19 rec | 156 rec yds | 0 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 9

Henry has more rush yards (492) and rush TDs (seven) in his last three games than he had in his first 12 games. He has put the Titans on his back and given them a chance to get into the playoffs.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 199 att | 966 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 12 rush TDs | 14 rec | 86 rec yds | 0 rec TDs 
</content:power-ranking>

Previous rank: No. 12

Since Week 13, Cook has averaged 87 rushing yards and 115 scrimmage yards per game. Minnesota needs this and more in Week 17 to lock up a playoff spot.

 **2018 stats:** 10 games | 122 att | 576 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 36 rec | 284 rec yds | 2 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 14

Peterson ran hard Saturday afternoon and racked up 119 yards on the ground -- his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 8. This is his first season with 1,000 rushing yards since 2015, and it's the eighth time he's hit that mark in his career.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 247 att | 1,042 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 7 rush TDs | 20 rec | 208 rec yds | 1 rec TD 
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Previous rank: Not ranked

Michel had his fourth game with 100 yards rushing last week and is hitting his stride just in time for the playoffs. The Patriots should continue to lean on their rookie running back since they are 5-0 when Michel rushes for at least 98 yards in a game.

 **2018 stats:** 12 games | 195 att | 881 rush yds | 4.5 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 7 rec | 50 rec yds | 5 rec TDs 
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Previous rank: No. 13

With a rushing touchdown in Sunday's win over Pittsburgh, Ingram passed Deuce McAllister for the most rushing touchdowns (50) in Saints history.

 **2018 stats:** 11 games | 133 att | 617 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 6 rush TDs | 19 rec | 155 rec yds | 1 rec TD 
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Previous rank: No. 10

Lindsay rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries before exiting Monday's game with a season-ending injury. It's too bad this is how his impressive rookie campaign has to end.

 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 192 att | 1,037 rush yds | 5.4 ypc | 9 rush TDs | 35 rec | 241 rec yds | 1 rec TD 
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Previous rank: Not ranked

His season stats might not be anywhere near the others on this list, but he's done a great job of filling the void left by Kareem Hunt. Williams has scored five touchdowns (three rushing, two receiving) in the last three games. He could prove to be a major player for the Chiefs in the postseason.

 *Note:* Baltimore's 
 [Gus Edwards](/player/gusedwards/2561324/profile) is equally deserving of this spot, but Williams' TDs gave him the edge. 
 **2018 stats:** 15 games | 39 att | 205 rush yds | 5.3 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 22 rec | 152 rec yds | 2 rec TDs 
</content:power-ranking>

Dropped out:Tarik Cohen, Bears (previously No. 8); Lamar Miller, Texans (No. 15).

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

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