Unfortunately for running backs, they are more undervalued today than ever before. During the 2010s, we saw the NFL explode into a pass-happy league focused on quarterbacks, wide receivers, and defensive players who could stop those two positions. But that doesn’t mean the last decade didn’t produce some outstanding running backs. It’s only fair that we take some time to recognize the top running backs of the 2010’s
On the one hand, Foster only played for about half of the decade. However, he was one of the league’s elite rushers during the early part of the 2010’s. He led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns in 2010 while averaging over 100 yards per game. Foster was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro during the 2010’s, putting him just a hair above a few other compelling candidates.
Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks)
Few running backs over the past decade were more feared than Lynch when they were at their best. The man who earned the nickname “Beast Mode” surpassed 1,200 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in four straight seasons during his heyday with the Seahawks, leading the NFL in touchdowns twice during that span. Even if he slowed down late in the decade, those four seasons were enough to make him one of the best running backs of the decade.
Frank Gore (49ers)
Gore undoubtedly has longevity working in his favor. He played throughout the entire 2010’s and still has plans to play again in 2020. Of course, we can’t forget that he was one of the NFL’s most productive backs for most of the decade. Gore rushed for over 1,000 yards five times between 2011 and 2016, making three Pro Bowls during that time. Even if his best seasons were before the 2010’s, his production and consistency over the past decade are incredible.
Naturally, McCoy has made a sharp decline over the past couple of years. However, he was one of the most frustrating backs for opposing defenses to stop during his prime. Over the past decade, McCoy has been selected to six Pro Bowls, including a run of five in a row. He also led the league in rushing in 2013 when he amassed over 1,600 yards on the ground and over 500 yards as a receiver. Finally, McCoy has averaged over five yards per carry in three separate seasons over the last decade, helping him earn First-Team All-Pro honors twice.
When all is said and done, Peterson might be the best running back of his generation. Even if you limit the scope to the past decade, he’s the best running back in the league. He’s rushed for over 1,000 yards in five of the last 10 seasons, leading the NFL in rushing twice during that span. Of course, the thing that makes Peterson stand out the most was his 2012 season when he took home MVP honors after rushing for 2,097 yards. He’s the only non-quarterback to win MVP since 2006. Between that and the fact that he nearly cracked 900 rushing yards on a bad Washington team at the age of 34 last season, he’s the obvious pick as the best running back of the 2010’s.