Last week we dove into ranking every starting quarterback the Atlanta Falcons will face this year, and it seemed fun to also take a look into the top running backs they’ll face this season as well. Similar to the quarterbacks article, this list could change drastically based on injuries, trades, cuts, and things to that extent.
Unless something significant happens, the team will likely avoid some of the best backs in the league including Nick Chubb, Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, and Christian McCaffrey. Unfortunately, they'll still have to face a king, one of the best dual-threat running backs in league history, and a plethora of young backs hoping to secure their spots as top rushers within the league.
No. 14: Rachaad White
As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers transition away from the Tom Brady era, they’ll likely aim to rely on a strong running game and defense to assist new quarterback Baker Mayfield. Unfortunately for the Bucs, Rachaad White is still a bit of an unknown after his rookie year. He had games where he looked stellar and then games where he seemed like a young player trying to adjust to the speed of the NFL. His play could go a long way towards speeding up the reset in Tampa, but as of right now, he hasn’t shown enough to rank any higher.
No. 13: Alexander Mattison
After the surprising cut of Dalvin Cook, the Vikings are proceeding with Alexander Mattison as their starting running back. Based on his production and how he looks on film, it’s a bit of a surprise, and the running game could take a significant dip in the upcoming season. Mattison’s yards-per-attempt have dropped every year since he joined the league, he’s offered little as a pass catcher for three out of four years, and his longest rush last year was only 15 yards. The team must be in a situation where they see something that fans cannot, but it won’t surprise people if Mattison struggles to adjust to his role as RB1.
No. 12: Khalil Herbert
Herbert is a bit more of a proven commodity than White, but only by one season. Herbert has only seen three starts since joining the league but was stuck behind David Montgomery. The Chicago Bears seem to be all-in on utilizing him as their full-time starter, and he has a chance to skyrocket up a list like this if he can show consistency with his larger opportunity.