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LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Ray Rice or another running back: Who is the best?

While getting my usual fix of things Eagles related, I happened upon this little tid bit on NFL.com asking which running back would you build a team around. I won't go into full detail about who everyone picked, but it seems to me that Shady is almost being disrespected by fans, and other so called "experts" in the article. For those who care to take a gander here is the link: http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d8292f105/article/rb-debate-lesean-mccoy-arian-foster-ray-rice-or-matt-forte . Now we all know that LeSean is a huge part of the offense here. From rushing, to catching, to pass protection, to blitz pick up, he is no doubt a key weapon on this offense. But is he the best one in the league compared to the others mentioned in the article and in various comments in the article? Let us take a minute to compare these backs against each other.

LeSean McCoy:

Strong open field runner, great hands, very good blitz pick up, fast, doesn't go down on the first hit, very secure with the ball, and young, like new born baby young in terms of running backs. So far here is his illustrious 3 year career in the green:

Year

Games

Starts

Rushes

Yds

Avg

Lng

TDs

Rec.

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Fum

Lost

2011

15

15

273

1309

4.8

60

17

48

315

6.6

26

3

1

1

2010

15

13

207

1080

5.2

62

7

78

592

7.6

40

2

2

1

2009

15

4

155

637

4.1

66T

4

40

308

7.7

45

0

2

1

Arian Foster:

The Houston Texans found a very good one in this player. He is part of the reason why not only Matt Schaub has succeeded as much as he has, but has at times, taken the team and put it on his legs, and carried the team to victory, 2011 playoffs anyone? He has power, not quite as fast as McCoy, nor as secure with the ball, and a toddler in running back years. So let us look as his stats for the past 3 years as well.

Year

Games

Starts

Rushes

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Fum

Lost

2011

13

13

278

1224

4.4

43

10

53

617

11.6

78T

2

5

3

2010

16

13

327

1616

4.9

74T

16

66

604

9.2

50

2

3

2

2009

6

1

54

257

4.8

24

3

8

93

11.6

20

0

1

1

Foster can take over a game with his abilities. Case in point, the playoff game against the Ravens where he ran roughshod over that vaunted defense. A very complete back on par with McCoy.

Matt Forte:

When healthy, a very dangerous back. Then again, if his linemen in front of him did a little better blocking, he probably would be even more rough for defenses to stop.On a whole, not too quick, but he sure can bring a load on you. He also is Jay Cutler's check down option, that is, until Greg Olsen rolled into town. Here are his numbers from past 3 years, to keep this a good comparison:

Year

Games

Starts

Rushes

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Fum

Lost

2011

12

12

203

997

4.9

46

3

52

490

9.4

56T

1

2

2

2010

16

16

237

1069

4.5

68T

6

51

547

10.7

89T

3

3

2

2009

16

16

258

929

3.6

61

4

57

471

8.3

37

0

6

3

Outside of the injury shortened season last year, where he more than likely would have had a career high in yards rushing, Forte from a numbers standpoint is very pedestrian. Main concerns with Forte are health (he is 26 after all, almost an old man in running backs), his ball security, not a huge threat in the field catching the ball, and weather or not the offensive line can and will block for him.

Ray Rice:

A more interesting running back, in terms of offense he is part of, as well as his production. A duel threat rushing and catching, not as old as Forte, but certainly has seen mileage based on the division he plays in. The numbers would seem to show a very good back, healthy, and very secure when his hands get on the ball. Here are the numbers, again only for previous 3 seasons:

Year

Games

Starts

Rushes

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Fum

Lost

2011

16

16

291

1364

4.7

70T

12

76

704

9.3

52

3

2

2

2010

16

14

307

1220

4

50

5

63

556

8.8

34

1

0

0

2009

16

15

254

1339

5.3

59T

7

78

702

9

63

1

3

3

Remember when all the fuss was made by the Ravens when they swung a deal to get Anquan Boldin? That was back in 2010. He was brought in to be "the guy" at receiver. In 2010 Boldin had a whole 64 catches. 1 more than Rice had. Then last year, Boldin had 57, and Rice had 76. To say Rice is not a key to the offense in Baltimore would be like saying Jim Brown was a decent running back. While true, it is a very large understatement.

So the question remains, out of the running backs mentioned here, who do you think is the best? And if you have another running back since 2009 that you would think better, state the case for them. I am curious about the opinions of everyone here.

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