Top 10 running backs of the decade

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As the decade comes to a close, we’re creating some Top 10 lists for 2010 to 2019. Up next, our Top 10 running backs.

1. Adrian Peterson: Only one running back won MVP honors in the decade and that was Peterson in 2012 when he rushed for 2,097 yards and had 2,314 yards from scrimmage. Peterson played one game in 2014 because of suspension and three games in 2016 because of a knee injury. He also won offensive player of the year honors in 2012. DeMarco Murray and Todd Gurley are the only other running backs to win that award this decade. He averaged more yards per game than any other running back this decade (82.5), rushing for 9,654 yards in 117 games. He went to four Pro Bowls and twice was voted All-Pro this decade.

2. LeSean McCoy: No running back gained more yards this decade than McCoy. He rushed for 10,434 yards and had 13,923 yards from scrimmage in 144 games. McCoy, who played for the Eagles, Bills and Chiefs, made six Pro Bowls and twice was voted first-team All-Pro.

3. Frank Gore: Five times in the decade Gore topped the 1,000-yard mark and two other seasons he had at least 961 yards. His 9,760 rushing yards is second in the decade behind McCoy, and he had 11,809 yards from scrimmage and 58 touchdowns this decade. He has missed only seven games. Gore didn’t have as many honors as McCoy, Peterson or some other running backs this decade, with three Pro Bowls and no All-Pro honors, but he was consistently good.

4. Marshawn Lynch: Lynch is back with the Seahawks just in time to close out the decade in style. He has 7,778 rushing yards and 67 rushing touchdowns this decade and another 1,551 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 194 receptions. Lynch was at his best in the postseason, too, with 937 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games this decade. He earned four Pro Bowl berths and was voted All-Pro in 2012 when he rushed for a career-best 1,590 yards.

5. DeMarco Murray: Murray had three really good seasons in the decade, but the rest were just sort of so-so. He retired after the 2017 season. In 2014 with the Cowboys, Murray earned offensive player of the year honors and first-team All-Pro by leading the league in carries (392), yards (1,845), rushing touchdowns (13), touches (449) and yards from scrimmage (2,261). He earned Pro Bowl honors that season, in 2015 when he rushed for 1,121 yards for the Cowboys and in 2016 when he ran for 1,287 for the Titans before being injured. His 7,174 rushing yards are sixth-most in the decade, and he did that in 99 games.

6. Matt Forte: His 7,629 rushing yards are fifth-most in the decade. In four seasons, he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and in 2011, he gained 997. Forte gained 11,353 yards from scrimmage and scored 59 touchdowns in 114 games in the decade. He twice earned Pro Bowl honors but never was an All-Pro.

7. Jamaal Charles: He played 88 games in the decade, rushing for 6,086 yards and 37 touchdowns. His 5.29 yards per attempt led the top rushers of the decade, and he earned Pro Bowl honors four times and All-Pro twice.

8. Le'Veon Bell: He played only six seasons this decade, missing last season in a contract holdout or he likely would be even higher on the list. Bell has three 1,000-yard seasons, earning him Pro Bowl honors each of those seasons, and he was voted All-Pro in 2014 and 2017. He has 6,084 rushing yards in 76 games, with 9,169 yards from scrimmage and 46 total touchdowns.

9. Arian Foster: His 6,270 rushing yards are 10th-most among running backs in the decade, and he scored 51 rushing yards and 65 total touchdowns. He made four Pro Bowls and, in 2010, he earned All-Pro honors when he lead the league in rushing yards (1,616), rushing touchdowns (16), yards from scrimmage (2,220), touches (393) and total touchdowns (18).

10. Mark Ingram: He earned Pro Bowl honors for the third time in his career this year. He has never made All-Pro. Ingram has 15 total touchdowns this season. Ingram has 7,025 rushing yards, 60 rushing touchdowns, 8,870 yards from scrimmage and 70 total touchdowns in his career, which began in 2011 when the Saints made him a first-round pick.

45 responses to “Top 10 running backs of the decade

  1. I recall that more than one “expert” warned against drafting Adrian Peterson with an early pick because his build and running style meant he would never last as an every down back.

  2. Matt Forte… if he’s on the list, that tells you all you need to know about the shape of the NFL and how passing has been pushed on the league by rule changes and teams would rather split carries between two cheaper options than pay one guy a ton of money at a position easy to replace in comparison to other spots.

  3. Lynch, Charles, Bell, and Foster were all better than Gore. Foster is being especially underrated on here. Gore had excellent longetivity, and it’s admirable that he’s still out there, but those other guys had much greater impact.

  4. Your top 4 are right on. Your next 6 are pretty much spot on but I would have had Ingram MUCH higher (or lower) than 10th — I mean I think he is better than the 10th best RB of the decade.

  5. In 2029 we may be discussion Lamar Jackson has having the most yards “running” in the decade..

    Either that or we’ll be saying “Isn’t it a shame how he got his knee blown out in 2020 and never played again?” “He could have been Soooo good..”

  6. Gore didn’t have as many honors as McCoy, Peterson or some other running backs this decade, with three Pro Bowls and no All-Pro honors, but he was consistently good.

    ____

    Consistently good does not equal HOF, nor does 3 Probowls in 10 years.

    He is a very good back, just never was the best back playing at any given time. He just outlasted everybody

  7. joeljcook says:
    December 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm
    Lynch, Charles, Bell, and Foster were all better than Gore. Foster is being especially underrated on here. Gore had excellent longetivity, and it’s admirable that he’s still out there, but those other guys had much greater impact.
    —-
    I don’t know why people down voted you. You are correct. All those backs had higher more impactful peaks then Gore. Gore was a good runningback who with the exception of his second year consistently gave you barely 1000 yards almost every season with 5-8 touchdowns. He absolutely in my opinion belongs in the hall for his sustained impact year after year but let’s not pretend his peak was that of the other backs listed.

  8. Interesting list. AP, Lynch, and Gore seem like relics from another era of football. I always enjoyed watching running backs and their role in the offense and those three always ran hard. Pass catching (minus Gore) wasn’t their forte but in their prime they were fun to watch. Highly doubt you will see that kind of yardage from running backs again. Very pass oriented game now and RB by committee has stripped away the numbers these guys used to put up.

  9. 2ruefan says:

    December 27, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    In 2029 we may be discussion Lamar Jackson has having the most yards “running” in the decade..

    Either that or we’ll be saying “Isn’t it a shame how he got his knee blown out in 2020 and never played again?” “He could have been Soooo good..”
    ———–
    Or he could continue to show progress as a passer and as they continue to build around him they would likely lean less and less on him to run and more on it just being a weapon he has.

  10. ARod(in his collarbone) says:
    December 27, 2019 at 5:20 pm
    AD is the best RB of all time. He will be just that until Dalvin Cook surpasses him.

    —–

    LOL. “And the Vikings win the Super Bowl every year and they have the bestest team and fans ever and my mommy loves me!”

  11. 6thsense10 says:

    December 27, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    joeljcook says:
    December 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm
    Lynch, Charles, Bell, and Foster were all better than Gore. Foster is being especially underrated on here. Gore had excellent longetivity, and it’s admirable that he’s still out there, but those other guys had much greater impact.
    —-
    I don’t know why people down voted you. You are correct. All those backs had higher more impactful peaks then Gore. Gore was a good runningback who with the exception of his second year consistently gave you barely 1000 yards almost every season with 5-8 touchdowns. He absolutely in my opinion belongs in the hall for his sustained impact year after year but let’s not pretend his peak was that of the other backs listed.
    ——–
    I’d assume he got downvoted because he it’s a post on what a player has done in the decade and hes trying to compare just the peaks. When you set a time frame, in this case 10 years, if for a example a player only plays 6 of those years the other 4 years are treated as 0’s. But if you want to take Foster 5 year stretch against Gores best 5 yr stretch of this decade. Foster averages 1210 yards per season, Gore ave 1125, Foster 4.5 ypc to Gore 4.2 so sure Foster 5 yr stretch in the league was better but Gore continued to do it for 5 more years.

  12. ANDRE B says:
    December 27, 2019 at 5:11 pm
    Interesting list. AP, Lynch, and Gore seem like relics from another era of football. I always enjoyed watching running backs and their role in the offense and those three always ran hard. Pass catching (minus Gore) wasn’t their forte but in their prime they were fun to watch. Highly doubt you will see that kind of yardage from running backs again. Very pass oriented game now and RB by committee has stripped away the numbers these guys used to put up.

    ——-

    You might have noticed in 2019 that a team is about to break the 1978 Patriots’ all time rushing record of 3,165 yards for a single season. Ravens now at 3,073. Who would have guessed RG3 would have a chance to break a record like this.

  13. Seeing as how a Packer fan has chosen to comment twice on AP, I bet if they listed the top 20 RBs of the decade, there still wouldn’t be a Packer RB. If memory serves correct, most of them were busy smoking pot.

  14. Gore’s best attribute is longevity and his ability to stay healthy, and people using that against him is asinine.

  15. Note what all but Lynch have in common:

    Too expensive/overpaid to ever even sniff a super bowl

    Yep

    Their careers have been meaningless and nothing more than fantasy football fodder

  16. OK, I can’t stand Le’Meon Bell but 8th behind Jamal Charles and DeMarco Murray and Matt Forte? I think that’s ridiculous.

  17. Joker65 if you dont think Gore is HOF worthy thats upsurd.
    ——

    Did he ever lead the league in rushing? No
    Did he ever lead the league in TDS? No
    How many times did he place in the top 3 in rushing yards in a given year? Once

    He finished 3rd one year, 5 th another year, and 9th or lower every other year.

    Very good player who was durable. Nothing special about him or his style of play

  18. Gore’s best attribute is longevity and his ability to stay healthy, and people using that against him is asinine.

    ———

    It’s the hall of fame, not the hall of durability. That’s why guys like Sayers and TD are in there, because even if they only played a little while they were the best for the time they played

  19. joker65 says:
    December 27, 2019 at 7:55 pm
    Joker65 if you dont think Gore is HOF worthy thats upsurd.
    ——

    Did he ever lead the league in rushing? No
    Did he ever lead the league in TDS? No
    How many times did he place in the top 3 in rushing yards in a given year? Once

    He finished 3rd one year, 5 th another year, and 9th or lower every other year.

    Very good player who was durable. Nothing special about him or his style of play

    ——————-

    He’d be the most unforgettable hall of famer ever. Not a gamer, nor a winner, and voluntarily chose the most money in fa to play on crap teams.

    Plus, he played in a bloated era for stats. He’s a poor man’s Curtis Martin.

  20. Nothing but respect for Gore, but let’s be honest. His only special quality is longevity. He’s never been considered a top 5 back in ANY season he played. Never lead the league in any category, no Allpro nods. Backs like AP, Charles, Shady Forte and even Foster were feared and needed certain defences to stop them. Gore was very Good and durable..not special

  21. joeljcook says:
    December 27, 2019 at 4:18 pm
    Lynch, Charles, Bell, and Foster were all better than Gore. Foster is being especially underrated on here. Gore had excellent longetivity, and it’s admirable that he’s still out there, but those other guys had much greater impact

    49ers only had 3 yrs, they had good line in front of him. He’s been the best pass blocker in the league(by far) and was utilized heavy by his team(s).
    Stats are needed(HOF) but aspects of his game need to be accounted for!.

  22. Jamaal Charles was electric to watch. Much like Bo Jackson, his career was derailed by injuries and we are only left with what could have been. Wish he could have stayed healthy.

  23. Lest we forget Adrian Peterson dealt with shoulder issues in college, and he had a knack for fumbling the football. He overcame the shoulder issue but the fumbles followed him for a long time. Nevertheless, he’s an all-time great but his draft selection is justifiable.

  24. Shady the “Bugman” McCoy had the quietest 10,000 yds ever produced. At least Gore went to three straight NFC Championship games and a SB, where he played well. If Luck would have stayed healthy in Indy, Gores stats would have been even better.

  25. ARod(in his collarbone) says:
    December 27, 2019 at 5:20 pm
    AD is the best RB of all time. He will be just that until Dalvin Cook surpasses him.

    Wow are Viking fans delusional, ever hear of Barry Sanders or Walter Payton?

  26. If the list is about sustained greatness, DeMarco Murray is far to high, if the list is about elite play and not mere games played then guys like Forte are too high, especially considering Todd Gurley is somehow not on the list.

    Murray played 7 full seasons, Gurley has played only 5, yet Gurly already compares favorably to Murray. Gurley has 3 pro-bowls, 2 all-pros and 1 offensive player of the year. In just half the decade that is tied for the most OPOY, second most all-pros (only Bell has more), and close in pro-bowls. If Gurley gains 25 scrimmage yards this week, we will never have a season under 1,000 scrimmage yards. He has 70 touchdowns in 5 seasons, while Murray only had 55 in 7. That is 15 more touchdowns in 2 less years. Murray had a few elite years and people do forget he was still pretty great his first year in Tennessee, and he was a great pass catcher (4 years with 44 or more catches, never less than 26 and 6 years with 35 or more). That said, he compares to Gurley and yet Gurley has been more dominate (Gurly has 4 years with 1,200+ scrimmage yards. Murray only has 3 in two extra years). Gurley’s team also made a superbowl.

    While Forte has the total numbers due to longevity, he never played at a level like Gurley. Moreover, two of Forte’s seasons did not occur this decade including his 1,700 yard season in 2008 and 1,400 yard season in 2009. People do sleep on him however, as he had 7 straight 1,400+ scrimmage yard seasons (5 in this decade) and then had 1,200+ and 1,000+. His 1,400 scimmage yards in 2011 came in just 12 games, which is super impressive. All that said he never dominated like Gurley and his lack of all-pros demonstrates that.

    Another name to consider is Ray Rice. Rice compares closer to Murray and Gurley than Forte (short but elite play). However, Rice split two decades starting his career in 2008, and having a monster year in 2009. Therefore he wouldn’t qualify for this list, but deserves a shout-out. Rice had 4 straight years with 1,6000+ scrimmage years (four straight!) with two 2,000+ yard seasons. Rice also had 5 straight years with 58+ catches and Rice played in 12 playoff games in his short career.

    Bottom line: Gurley needs to be on this list and Rice unfortunately split decades.

  27. gopackgocausecowboysblow says:
    December 28, 2019 at 7:15 am
    ARod(in his collarbone) says:
    December 27, 2019 at 5:20 pm
    AD is the best RB of all time. He will be just that until Dalvin Cook surpasses him.

    Wow are Viking fans delusional, ever hear of Barry Sanders or Walter Payton?
    ———————————————————
    Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers……..Heck, even OJ was more impactfull than any of those guys on this list….

  28. joker65 says:
    December 27, 2019 at 7:55 pm
    Joker65 if you dont think Gore is HOF worthy thats upsurd.

    _________________________________________________________
    ab·surd
    /əbˈsərd,əbˈzərd/
    Learn to pronounce
    adjective
    wildly unreasonable, illogical, or inappropriate.

    Your use of a word you don’t know how to spell in a sentence is absurd.

  29. Lol. Demarco Murray shocked to see himself on the list comment is hilarious. Imagine if he was behind a different offensive line? Let’s not. Only problem I have w this list is that Arian Foster isn’t a touch higher. He was the heartbeat of the Texans offense for quite a while, face of their franchise.

  30. Sunday Swami says:
    December 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm
    Or he [Lamar Jackson] could continue to show progress as a passer and as they continue to build around him they would likely lean less and less on him to run and more on it just being a weapon he has.
    ==================
    He may or may not progress as a passer (he ain’t bad right now), and he might continue to be a prolific runner. However, when he gets that big contract he has coming, probably after next year, it will become harder for the team to build around him. It is tough to hold on to talent when the QB takes so much cap space.

  31. bswoodbwood says:
    December 28, 2019 at 2:03 pm
    Without Jim Brown or Jim Taylor on the list, it’s a complete joke!
    =================
    I’m just going to assume this is some sort of sarcasm?

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