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Ranking The AFC North by Position: Running Back

By Adam McCoy
SteelerNation.com

Over the next few weeks, I will be ranking every starting positional player in the AFC North. This will not only give us a good opportunity to know our enemy heading into the new season, but also to see where the Pittsburgh Steelers rank within their own division. These rankings will be in consideration for the 2019 Season and will not be an all-time ranking. Enjoy! Below you can find the previous installations of this series:

Quarterbacks

 

4. Nick Chubb – Cleveland

2018 stats – 996 yards, 8 TD’s, 20 rec, 149 yards, 0 fumbles

When you look at Cleveland’s running back group, with guys like Duke Johnson and Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb almost seems to be something of an afterthought, especially when Kareem Hunt was added.  Yet 2018 showed that Chubb is anything but an afterthought, and with Hunt suspended eight weeks, and Johnson currently injured, Chubb has a chance to take the Browns starting running back spot and well, run with it. Chubb is a physical, down field runner who loves to punish would-be tacklers, and creates a nice change in pace for what looks to be a pass-heavy Brown’s offense going into 2019.  

 

3. Mark Ingram II – Baltimore

2018 stats – 645 yards, 6 TD’s, 21 rec, 170 yards, 3 fumbles

Mark Ingram II seems primed to have a big year as the feature back in a Ravens offense that predominantly focuses on a ground and pound style of play.  Though 29, Ingram has benefited off splitting time with Alvin Kamara the past two years in New Orleans. Though he will still be sharing snaps with Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon, Ingram looks to be the main guy in the backfield for the first time since 2017, when he ran for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, and made the Pro Bowl. 

 

2. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati 

2018 stats – 1168 yards, 8 TD’s, 43 rec, 296 yards, 0 fumbles

The Bengals offense seems very excited about what Zac Taylor brings to the table, and Joe Mixon has been one of the most vocal players when it comes to praising his new head coach. Mixon enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, and will look to build upon last year when he lead the AFC in rushing yards.  The only thing that might detract from Mixon’s value is the slew of talent behind him in Giovani Bernard and fellow Oklahoma Sooner Rodney Anderson.  

 

1. James Conner – Pittsburgh

2018 stats – 973 yards, 12 TD’s, 55 rec, 497 yards, 4 fumbles

2018 was the emergence of James Conner, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Now with a full year starting, Conner is hungrier than ever, and knows his role as the number one back is anything but guaranteed. In just 12 games played, Conner racked up almost 1,500 all purpose yards, threatening to overtake some of the top running backs before missing four games to injury. Expect to see Conner continue to work hard and run harder. His smash-mouth style of play, along with his excellent receiving ability, should make James Conner a staple in the Steelers offense in 2019.  

 

Side Note: Wow, I did not realize how stacked the AFC North is at running back.  The only other division that rivals the AFC North in running back talent has to be the NFC South with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara.  It took me a while to decide how to rank these players, what gave Conner the edge over Mixon was the offensive line.  The Steelers boast a Top 3 offensive line in the NFL and the Bengals don’t even come close.  

 

Feel free to let me know what you think down below in the comments! Do you agree or disagree?  How would you rate these players? Look out for my wide receiver ratings to come out next!

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