With concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s going to be even more important that NFL teams have good roster depth. If a player or two tests positive for the coronavirus the league is going to try and continue to play and not shut down.If a star running back goes down, there are some teams that are in a good position to have backups fill in, where other teams are going to struggle to run the ball without them.
Let’s take a look at the five NFL teams with the best backup running back situation heading into the 2020 season.
Honorable Mention: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings would be in the top five in the NFL if we were positive that Dalvin Cook was even going to show up for the season. With Cook is on the roster. the Vikings have one of the best one-two punches in football.
Last season, as a rookie, Alexander Mattison played well, rushing 100 times for 462 yards and a touchdown. He proved he can be a solid starter when Cook was out with injury last season. As long as Cook reports this season, Mattison along with Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah would do a good job of filling in. If Mattison is expected to be the starter, and Boone and Abdullah had to fill in if he went down with COVID-19, the Vikings could be in trouble. Cook is the X-factor for Minnesota.
5. Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks probably consider Chris Carson their starting running back, but it’s really a running back by-committee approach, and if anyone goes down, the Seahawks are still in good shape. The other Seahawks’ backs in the room are Rashaad Penny, Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer.
Penny rushed 65 times for 370 yards and three touchdowns last year. Even Homer showed some flashes of being a solid running back and with a bigger role in 2020, he could thrive. Pete Carroll loves to run the ball, so he has loaded up on strong backs.
4. Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos surrounded Drew Lock with playmakers this offseason. They added a lot of playmakers outside, but people seem to be forgetting about how they improved the backfield. Who is going to be the true No. 1 back is a toss-up but it’s going to be between Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay.
Whichever guy doesn’t end up starting could probably do so on most any other NFL team. Royce Freeman is also still on the roster, and last season he rushed 132 times for 496 yards and three touchdowns. It’s extra important to have a solid running game with a young quarterback like Lock. The Broncos have done a good job of making sure they have that in place.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Much like the other teams on this list, the San Francisco 49ers take a running back by-committee approach. The 49ers have Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson Jr. on the roster. One guy who is often forgotten on this list is McKinnon, When he was brought over to the 49ers, he looked like he would be the starter, but he has been injured since leaving the Minnesota Vikings.
McKinnon was an elite back with the Vikings and if he can stay healthy this season, the 49ers very well could be tops on this list. But McKinnon’s health is a big question mark, which means the 49ers come in at No. 3 in the NFL.
2. Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have two starting-caliber running backs, but only one can be running the ball at a time. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt make up one of the best one-two punches in all of the NFL. For the most part, Hunt was used last season as a change-of-pace back catching the ball out of the backfield, but don’t forget about his play when he was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.
During the 2017 season, Hunt rushed 272 times for 1.327 yards and eight touchdowns. The Browns also have Dontrell Hilliard and D’Ernest Johnson on the depth chart.
1. Baltimore Ravens
Having too many good running backs usually isn’t a bad thing, but it might actually be a disadvantage for the Ravens, because it’s going to be hard to get everyone touches. Behind Mark Ingram, the Ravens have J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill.
Even if it was just Edwards in the backfield, the Ravens would rank in the top five at the position, but with the team adding Dobbins it could prove to be a game-changer. During the 2019 collegiate season, Dobbins rushed for 2,003 yards and 31 touchdowns. By the end of the year, it wouldn’t be shocking if Dobbins was the starter and Ingram assumed the role of one of the best backup running backs in the league.