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Top 25 NFL Rushers


vcczar
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Here's my algorithmic list of the top 25 RBs. The best active RB is Derrick Henry who is #3. No QB makes the top 100, but there are a few QBs that got rusher points. Michael Vick got the closest to making the top 100 as he led the league in average yards per carry 5 times. 

Overall, the clear winner is Jim Brown. Van Buren is the first modern RB in the sense of someone routinely having 1,000+ yard 10+ TD seasons. Terrell Davis makes the list at #7 despite having an astonishing short career. Peterson is the greatest of recent RBs. Campbell also had a short career and makes #9. Tomlinson's #12 ranking is the most surprising to me, he might get bumped up if he earns in receiving points on my next list. Dutch Clark at #13 is from the 1930s and is the best of that decade. The Cleveland Browns are the only team that have a top 3 QB from my other list (Otto Graham) and a top three RB (Jim Brown). I can't imagine them having played at the same time on the same team. 

The one issue with my algorithm is that long-serving RBs who were never in the top three in any rushing state, never got to the SB or pre-SB championship, and never won a major award gets zero points. For this reason, Edgerrin James is like #75 or something. Jerome Bettis also isn't in the top #50. Frank Gore has like a 2 under that "total career" despiting having rushed for 15,000 yards (albeit quietly). Warrick Dunn, who has about 10,000 rushing yards, scored zero points. 

I'll do Receiving next. 

  Rank Total Career
Brown, Jim 1 82
Smith, E 2 51
Sanders, B 3 50
Van Buren 4 41
Payton 5 41
Simpson 6 41
Davis, T 7 38
Peterson 8 38
Campbell, E 9 37
Dickerson 10 37
Faulk, M 11 35
Tomlinson 12 34
Clark, D 13 33
Taylor, Jim 14 32
Allen, Marcus 15 28
Moore, L 16 27
Thomas, Th 17 26
Kelly, Leroy 18 26
Perry, Joe 19 25
Battles 20 23
Harris, F 21 22
Motley 22 22
Alexander, Sh 23 22
Sayers 24 21
Gilchrist 25 21
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28 minutes ago, pilight said:

I guess D Clark is Dutch Clark from the 30's?  #13 seems awfully high.

Yeah, I saw who he is in my paragraph above. He was the dominant rusher for that decade. He's a 4x First Team All-Pro during an intensely run-heavy era. He might not even be high enough. 

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36 minutes ago, DakotaHale said:

Obviously I know Chubb is way too young to breach this list right now but I'm curious where he is and what his ceiling is based on his career trajectory and your personal opinion.

He will be #1 eventually. The NFL will be greeted with a full Chubb as Nicholas Jamaal maintains #1 in rushing yards this season and also wins MVP

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1 hour ago, DakotaHale said:

Obviously I know Chubb is way too young to breach this list right now but I'm curious where he is and what his ceiling is based on his career trajectory and your personal opinion.

Chubb is in the top 100, but he's still like 80ish or something.

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One thing about using purely stats is that it doesn't take into account player situations. Emmitt Smith has one of the best situations you could ask for, so it is not surprising to see him do well. Peterson and Sanders had very difficult situations but still had all-time great careers. If Peterson doesn't miss 2.25 quarter seasons due to injury/suspension, he might've had a shot at Smith's all-time career rushing record and Tomlinson's place with the 2nd most rushing touchdowns. And who knows what Barry could have done if he hadn't retired while still on top.

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1 hour ago, jvikings1 said:

One thing about using purely stats is that it doesn't take into account player situations. Emmitt Smith has one of the best situations you could ask for, so it is not surprising to see him do well. Peterson and Sanders had very difficult situations but still had all-time great careers. If Peterson doesn't miss 2.25 quarter seasons due to injury/suspension, he might've had a shot at Smith's all-time career rushing record and Tomlinson's place with the 2nd most rushing touchdowns. And who knows what Barry could have done if he hadn't retired while still on top.

Well those are all just hypotheticals, albeit interesting ones. 

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