Ranking 2022 AFC West offenses: Running backs

Clyde Edwards-Helaire #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

How does the Chiefs’ running back room stack up against the rest of their rivals in the AFC West heading into 2022?

We’ve now entered the portion of the offseason where there isn’t much to look forward to until August and the preseason. To help pass the time, it sounded like a worthwhile exercise to size up the AFC West heading into another season after a flurry of activity.

Specifically, the focus for the next few articles will be on the division’s offensive positional groups compare. How do they all stack up and how will they match up with the Chiefs’ high octane style of play?  Here, we’ll take a look at running back in the AFC West, and over the next few days, I will analyze the quarterbacks, tight ends, offensive lines, and wide receivers of each team.

To get the final rankings, I will be combining the scores of each individual position. The scale will be 1-4. 1 being the worst, 4 being the best. Another factor will be how many sections each team won. It will be possible for a team to win my final rankings without having the highest total score.

Broncos: Javonte Williams

Javonte Williams is currently entering his second year in the league and his first as the starter. He could still lose his position to Melvin Gordon, but he is currently listed as #1. In 2021, Williams had 903 yards on 203 attempts and 4 TDS. Though he only averaged 4.4 yards in 2021, I have confidence that he will do better in 2022 behind their offensive line, with a new QB, and now being the starting RB.

Other rostered RBs include Melvin Gordon, Mike Boone, and Demarea Crockett.

Points: 1

Chargers: Austin Ekeler

The longest-tenured starting RB in the AFC West, Austin Ekeler, is very good at what he does. He’s regressed in recent years, but that’s why the Chargers invested in new RBs in the draft like Isaiah Spiller and Zander Horvath.

In 2021, Ekeler only averaged 4.4 yards per carry. But, in previous years, he averaged much more. Over his entire career, Ekeler has recorded 2,812 yards on 607 attempts with a career average of 4.6 yards/carry. He may regress further in the upcoming seasons, but for now, Ekeler is the best RB in the AFC West.

Other rostered RBs include Isaiah Spiller, Joshua Kelley, and Larry Roundtree.

Points: 2

Raiders: Josh Jacobs

At first, I thought Jacobs was the best RB in the AFC West. However, over the last two seasons, Jacobs has not averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry. I cannot, in good faith, rank Jacobs above Ekeler. He had one good season and has been below-average since.

Other rostered RBs for the Raiders include Kenyan Drake, Zamir White, and Brandon Bolden.

Points: 4

Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Let me be clear. I really don’t like CEH. I think he would be fine if he were a later-round pick, but he hasn’t lived up to being a first-rounder. We also have better RBs on the roster—namely, Ronald Jones. However, Jones isn’t currently listed as the starter on the ESPN Depth Chart, which is why CEH is listed here.

In 26 games with the Chiefs, CEH only averages 4.4 yards per carry. Though he only has two fumbles in his career, they have both been incredibly costly. Meanwhile, Derrick Gore averaged 5 yards/carry in 11 games. I simply can’t say that CEH deserves the starting position.

Other rostered RBs include Ronald Jones, Derrick Gore, and Isiah Pacheco.

Points: 2

The Best: Raiders

The AFC West kind of falls flat when it comes to the running game. None of the starting RBs are really outstanding. In fact, none averaged more than 4.4 yards/carry last season. However, due to their depth, I believe that the Raiders barely win this battle.

Considering depth, the Chiefs barely edge out the Broncos. We don’t yet have proof that Javonte Williams will be an outstanding starter, and aside from Melvin Gordon, they really don’t have anyone else. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have Derrick Gore and Ronald Jones. And, if you read my evaluation of the Chiefs’ draft or Lyle Graversen’s, you will know that I have strong feelings about Pacheco.

The rankings after evaluating the RB rooms of each team are as follows: Broncos with 1 point; Chiefs with 2 points; Chargers with 3 points; Raiders with 4 points.

Next. Ranking the Chiefs top 15 draft picks ever. dark