The Year of the Running Back

The 2019 NFL season has had its fair share of breaking headlines. The most notable headlines include the long list of injured starting quarterbacks. Football is not an individual sport, and even when your leader of the offense goes down, there must be someone else that takes the role to lead the team to victory. You could stick me as the backup quarterback, and these running backs will still find a way to get a W in the win column.

Everybody Loves Chris

After Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton’s repeated concussions over the year, shoulder injuries, and recent foot injury, it leaves a MASSIVE whole in the Panthers’ offense. However, the absolute stud RB Christian McCaffrey is almost literally carrying the team on his back. Look no further than the Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. McCaffrey carried the ball 24 times for 153 rushing yards, topped off with a touchdown. He contributed in the pass game as well, with 3 receptions for 35 yards. This guy, after his first three seasons, the former Stanford University standout is now the Carolina Panthers all-time leader in receiving yards by a running back. Christian not only carries the Panthers week in, week out, but he carries my fantasy football team as well. Keep it up man, I need you or else my team is garbage (much like the Panthers).

Cook ‘Bout to Cook

Dalvin Cook went from being a nobody in the Minnesota backfield, to being a dominant force in the NFL. I do not want to take credit for his success, but in my article Who is the King of the North, I mentioned that should the Vikings introduce the run game and start feeding the running back, they will become a dominant offensive force. That statement could not be more accurate. Cooks carry totals have increased a noticeable 8.9 attempts per game. Cook has a total of 57 carries, rushing for 375 yards and 4 touchdowns. While Kirk Cousins is not injured, he certainly is not the guy that general manager Rick Spielman signed for $84 million fully guaranteed for three years. The ONLY reason the Vikings are 2-1 is because of this power, elusive, receiving, all-around exceptional back. Should he stay healthy, he will legitimately make the Vikings a vicious team to face for the rest of the season. Keep feeding this man because he is starving.

Alvin and the Chipmunks

The reason I use this ridiculous title is not to be demeaning in any way to New Orleans Saints RB Alving Kamara. I use it as an analogy to relate that Kamara is now the leader of the Saints. With Drew Brees expected to be out for at least another four weeks, Alvin is going to have to carry this team in a backpack to make yet another playoff run, with the hopes to bring the franchise its second Super Bowl in the past decade. Kamara has been a transcendent running back and is becoming the ideal guy a team would want in the backfield. In a week 3 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks, Kamara filled the stat sheet with 16 carries for 69 rushing yards and a touchdown. Kamara is the equivalent of a WR2, as he is easily the number two passing option for QB Drew Brees, second only to superstar WR Michael Thomas. After the thumb injury of Brees, it forces former starter Teddy Bridgewater to take the helm of this team. Kamara was his go-to guy in Week 3, as he compiled 9 receptions for 92 yards and another touchdown on the day. His talent is undeniable and we should expect that he will fulfill the next-man-up role for the Saints.

Old School Meeting New School

The modern NFL is adopting the Air Raid strategy which, to summarize, leads to quarterbacks throwing the ball more than utilizing the run game to create a dual threat offense. It relies on the talent of the skill positions to create plays—specifically wide receivers—leading to very high scoring games. An excellent example is the incredible shootout between the Kansas City Chiefs and the L.A. Rams in Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season. As a youngin’, I thoroughly enjoy high scoring games. I recall trying to write an English paper in the other room, and I hear Joe Buck screaming on the TV that Ebukam ran back a fumble recovery for a touchdown. It was apparent that my paper had to wait, because that was an unforgettable game. While many offenses are resorting to this new scheme, the man the system must revolve around is no longer available on many rosters throughout the league, I.E. Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Nick Foles, etc. This season is now reliant on how effective the running back will be, and that impact will affect whether or not a team makes the playoffs this year.