Man, what a rough week for NFL backfields with a number of players who were performing at a career-best pace suffering injuries. Atlanta's Cordarrelle Patterson and Denver's Javonte Williams are top of mind, with both being regulars in my running back rankings through the first quarter of the season.
Patterson will spend at least the next four weeks on injured reserve after injuring his knee prior to Sunday's win over Cleveland. Patterson did play in the game, finishing with 38 yards and a TD on nine carries, but his injury opens the door for young running backs Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley.
In Denver, Williams will miss the rest of his sophomore campaign after tearing his ACL, LCL and PLC during the third quarter of Sunday's loss to the Raiders. Williams emerged as the team's RB1 in 2022 after splitting carries with Melvin Gordon in his rookie season. The Broncos will move forward with Gordon, who's had fumbling issues, Mike Boone and new addition Latavius Murray.
Injuries are easily my least favorite part of football season, and you'll notice that my RB rankings at the quarter mark have endured quite the shuffle from last week due to these injuries. If there is a silver lining here, it's that we get to spotlight others who've stepped up in recent weeks. Let's take a look.
Top 15 running backs
Former NFL rushing leader and NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2022 season. His rankings are based on this season's efforts alone. Here is MJD's list heading into Week 5.
2022 stats: 4 games | 81 att | 459 rush yds | 5.7 ypc | 5 rush TD | 6 rec | 37 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Chubb has been the most consistent runner this season. Averaging nearly 115 rush yards per game through Week 4, he's one of the main reasons the Browns are atop the AFC North.
2022 stats: 4 games | 84 att | 463 rush yds | 5.5 ypc | 2 rush TD | 15 rec | 107 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
In a game that had no quarterback presence, Barkley stepped up in a big way for the G-Men, rushing 31 times for 146 yards in the win. He leads the league in rush yards right now and is making a case for that No. 1 spot. The 3-1 Giants have a big test ahead in London, and if they want to prove they're a legitimate threat in the NFC, there's only one thing to do: Keep feeding Barkley!
2022 stats: 4 games | 58 att | 270 rush yds | 4.7 ypc | 1 rush TD | 19 rec | 138 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Whenever McCaffrey has an off day on the ground, he always seems to make up for it in the passing game. He's averaging over 100 total yards per game and is tied for second on the team in receiving yards (138). He is the complete package.
2022 stats: 4 games | 72 att | 356 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 3 rush TD | 8 rec | 35 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Sanders proved to everyone he's able to be an every-down back in Week 4. Playing in rainy conditions that dictated a run-heavy game plan, he took advantage. Sanders carried the ball 27 times for 134 rush yards and scored 2 touchdowns all while averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
2022 stats: 4 games | 48 att | 327 rush yds | 6.8 ypc | 1 rush TD | 12 rec | 81 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 1 fumble lost
Jones' production has been like a rollercoaster this season. So naturally, after a rough Week 3, he stayed right on cue with 110 yards on just 16 carries the next week. Hopefully, he keeps this ride steady and duplicates that level of production in London.
2022 stats: 4 games | 81 att | 328 rush yds | 4.1 ypc | 1 rush TD | 9 rec | 44 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 1 fumble lost
The Colts are in an offensive slump and Taylor has been at the worst end of it. He's getting the carries but hasn't produced much. I'm not so sure the blame can be put solely on him, as the offensive line hasn't played all that well either. Taylor won't play against the Broncos due to an ankle injury, but I'm hoping he'll start to trend upward after giving his body a rest.
2022 stats: 4 games | 52 att | 317 rush yds | 6.1 ypc | 3 rush TD | 5 rec | 37 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
In the absence of David Montgomery, Herbert has been above average in all aspects. He had 101 total yards against the Giants and has the opportunity to continue his productive campaign this week against the Vikings, who have given up the second-most rushing touchdowns (seven).
2022 stats: 4 games | 60 att | 313 rush yds | 5.2 ypc | 2 rush TD | 10 rec | 43 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Welcome, rookie! It was all Pierce on Sunday. No, literally. He was the only Texans player to record a carry. Despite the team's loss, his 75-yard touchdown run in the second quarter sparked a comeback effort in his best game of the season so far.
2022 stats: 4 games | 70 att | 336 rush yds | 4.8 ypc | 2 rush TD | 12 rec | 90 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
A monster game earned Jacobs a spot on my list for the first time this season. Desperate for their first win, the Raiders relied on Jacobs' physical running style and it paid off. His big outing -- 28 carries for 144 yards and 2 TDs -- propelled him into the NFL's top five in rush yards.
2022 stats: 4 games | 63 att | 279 rush yds | 4.4 ypc | 1 rush TD | 9 rec | 47 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 1 fumble lost
It was a quiet week for Cook, who played in London for the first time in his career. The Vikings' offense relied much more on the pass game against the Saints, but on Sunday, they host the Bears. I expect Cook to take advantage of the worst run defense in the NFL.
2022 stats: 4 games | 45 att | 140 rush yds | 3.1 ypc | 2 rush TD | 27 rec | 188 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
The Chargers finally decided to make Ekeler the feature piece in the win over Houston. A three-touchdown performance along with 109 total yards launches him into this list for the first time this year. Seeing a trend?
2022 stats: 4 games | 49 att | 292 rush yds | 6.0 ypc | 2 rush TD | 4 rec | 16 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Anyone else see this offensive performance coming from the Seahawks? Maybe it was because they faced the dismal Lions defense. What I do know is Penny went off -- 17 carries for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns (8.9 yards per carry).
2022 stats: 4 games | 62 att | 276 rush yds | 4.5 ypc | 6 rush TD | 5 rec | 30 rec yds | 0 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
After torching the Seahawks for 108 yards and 2 TDs on 19 carries in Week 4, Williams leads the league in rushing TDs. His 6 scores are the most all time by a Lions player through the first four games of a season. Williams now has 2 rush TDs in 3 of Detroit's 4 games in 2022, which puts him in elite company. The last Lions player to rush for at least 2 TDs in 3 or more games in a single season was Barry Sanders in 1997.