4. Indianpolis Colts
The Colts don't have a bad backfield by any stretch of the imagination. The ageless wonder Frank Gore is still a viable running back option in the NFL, but he did slow down a bit last year, which can certainly be blamed on the Colts QB situation at the time and their poor offensive line. Despite only averaging 3.7 yards per carry in 2015 Gore was only 33 yards away from breaking the 1,000 yard mark and found the end zone 7 times in total on the season. Behind Gore the Colts have Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman (yes, the former Jaguar), both of whom can get it done if they have a good situation around them i.e. solid QB play and a good offensive line. This group of Colts runners should be at the very worst a decent group in 2016, especially with an improved O-Line and a healthy Andrew Luck, but the rest of the division is far too talented at RB to rank them any higher than last.
3. Houston Texans
The Houston Texans got a lot better at the running back position by trading in the ultra injury prone, and aging Arian Foster, for the newer, faster model, Lamar Miller. Miller was one of the most explosive players in the NFL in 2015 for the Dolphins. He gained 1,269 yards from scrimmage, found the end zone 10 times, and averaged an impressive 4.5 yards per carry. Behind Miller the Texans have Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes. Neither of their backups provides a huge spark, but they are both serviceable. Depending on how well Miller adjusts to a new offense, a new town, a new quarterback, and a new O-Line, will determine how well or poor the Texans rushing attack will perform in 2016.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
The argument could certainly be made for the Jaguars to be ranked first here, but we have them ranked second for several reasons, before we get to those we'll highlight why the Jaguars are a long way ahead of Houston and Indy. T.J. Yeldon was the most impressive rookie RB in 2015 not named Gurley or Johnson. He averaged over 4 yards per carry and racked up over 1,000 total yards despite missing a quarter of the season due to injury. His patience, short area burst, and vision make him a difficult runner to bring down. Then you've got Chris Ivory, who the Jaguars brought in this offseason after his career year with the Jets. In 2015 he lead the AFC in rushing and displayed a rare combo of speed and power. It would be easy to rank them highly as a unit just based on their past, but seeing them run together in training camp and now into preseason they truly look like a dynamic duo. Both possess multiple traits that you like to see in starting runners. Yeldon has patience, quickness, vision, and power while Ivory possesses quickness, power, and speed. They compliment each other well because Ivory is going to run straight at you or straight past you, while Yeldon will lull you into a false sense of security with his patience and the accelerate past you with his short area burst. Add in the speedy Denard Robinson and Corey Grant and you've got an incredibly dangerous backfield. So, why aren't they #1?
1. Tennessee Titans
The Titans have an uber talented and deep backfield. DeMarco Murray was the leagues leading rusher just two years ago and despite a lack luster season with the Eagles in 2015 he is still a young, hungry back. Derrick Henry looks to be this years version of Todd Gurley. Through training camp and the first two preseason games Henry has been unstoppable. He's averaging 7 yards per carry during the preseason running through a tackle on seemingly every play, but also showing the ability to make defenders miss. After Henry, the Titans deploy Bishop Sankey, another young runner who provides a different type of spark out of the backfield. With a healthy and hungry DeMarco Murray and a natural runner of the football in Derrick Henry the Titans could have the best backfield in the NFL in 2016 and beyond.
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