Plight of young running backs reveals just how volatile the position is

Here’s where the top eight rushers from the 2014 season rank at around the midway point of the 2015 season: 6th, 11th, 21st, 27th, 10th, 61st, 38th, 30th.

The final two names on that list: 25-year-old Eddie Lacy and 23-year-old Jeremy Hill, both of whom averaged north of 4.5 yards per carry during 1,000-yard breakout seasons in 2014 but have inexplicably fallen off of cliffs despite being supported by great offensive cores in 2015.

Among 37 backs with at least 70 carries, Hill ranks 36th with a yards-per-attempt average of 3.3 and is on the verge of being replaced by veteran Giovani Bernard. Meanwhile, Lacy is averaging just 3.7 yards per carry and has officially been replaced by another veteran, James Starks, who started just five games in his first five seasons.

Throw in that last year’s No. 2 leading rusher, Le’Veon Bell, is on injured reserve and that DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Justin Forsett and Marshawn Lynch have also fallen off and it’s like we’re looking at an entirely new batch of good backs this season. That batch includes dudes you never expected to step up — dudes like Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray and the miraculously recovered Todd Gurley.

And wait, when and how did Chris Johnson, Doug Martin, Frank Gore, DeAngelo Williams and Darren McFadden come back from the dead?

I give up at trying to predict which players might succeed at this position.

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin,, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.