25. Ricky Williams, 2002
Ricky Williams is arguably a player who had a solid, if not great NFL career, but never quite lived up to his potential. The expectations for Williams were sky high because of his incredibly dominant career at the University of Texas. He nearly broke 1,000 yards every year, rushed for an incredible 2,124 yards his senior season, and had 6,279 rushing yards and 72 touchdowns for his career. Add to that nearly 1,000 yards receiving and three touchdowns and he was exactly the kind of back GMs believed would have a long and successful career in the NFL.
The year that checks in 25th on our list of greatest running back seasons is 2002. Playing for the Miami Dolphins, Williams’ second team, he had 1,863 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, 343 receiving yards, and one receiving touchdown. He was voted to the Pro Bowl, named First Team All-Pro and was considered to be one of the best running backs in football.
Unfortunately, Ricky Williams career would be an up and down one. He suffered from social anxiety and understandably found it difficult to balance that with the scrutiny of playing in America’s favorite league. Even so, he was a great player and his 2002 campaign is one to be remembered.
NORMALIZED SEASON SCORE: 2345.72
24. DeMarco Murray, 2014
Demarco Murray had a good, but inconsistent career in the NFL. He was the definition of an all-purpose back during his time at Oklahoma. He rushed for 3,685 yards and 50 touchdowns and added 1,571 yards receiving and 13 receiving touchdowns. He was eventually a third round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Murray’s 2014 season checks in at 24th on this list. During that season he had 1,845 rushing yards, 13 rushing touchdowns, and added 416 yards receiving. He was voted to the Pro Bowl, named First Team All-Pro, and was voted as high as No. 4 in the NFL Top 100 for the upcoming 2015 season.
Unfortunately, Murray struggled to find consistency throughout his career. He only played seven years, and only three more after this monster season, only breaking 1,000 yards three times for his career. Regardless, he was a great college running back and followed that up with a solid career and one spectacular season.
NORMALIZED SEASON SCORE: 2356.30
23. Arian Foster, 2010
Arian Foster was one of the more unheralded running backs on this list coming out of college. While he had a solid career while at Tennessee, it wasn’t anything particularly eye-opening. Consequently, Foster wasn’t drafted in the 2009 NFL Draft and ended up signing as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans.
After an unremarkable rookie season, Foster exploded onto the NFL scene. His second year in the NFL ranks 23rd on this list and for good reason. He played in 16 games, rushed for 1,616 yards, scored 16 rushing touchdowns and added 604 yards and two touchdowns in receiving. This puts him 20th all time in yards per scrimmage in a season. He was voted to the Pro Bowl, voted First Team All-Pro, and voted by his peers as the 25th best player in the league.
Foster would play eight years total for the Houston Texans, breaking 1,000 yards four times and was named to the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons. In retirement, he has enjoyed a successful acting career making guest appearances on several television shows as well as producing his own television documentary.
NORMALIZED SEASON SCORE: 2357.15