The youth shall inherit the carries.
Through the first two weeks of the NFL season, it’s been great to be a rookie running back. Four of the top seven rushing yardage leaders are rookies, including three of the top five.
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that this is unlikely to last. There have never been more than two rookies in the top five in rushing yardage in any season since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970. There have never been more than three rookies to finish in the top 10.
From 2012 to 2015, one rookie finished in the top 10 in rushing. Two rookies did last season.
Nonetheless, those looking to buck the trend are off to highly impressive starts. Here’s a look at the four who have fared best.
Hunt had 355 yards from scrimmage in his first two games. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the fourth-most for a rookie in his team’s first two games in NFL history.
The record for most by a rookie in a team’s first three games, via Elias, is 562 yards, by Billy Sims of the 1980 Lions.
Hunt has five touchdowns through his team’s first two games. According to Elias, the record for most touchdowns by a rookie through his team’s first three games is six, by Sims in that 1980 season.
Cook is averaging 5.6 yards per rush this season. The Vikings averaged 3.2 yards per rush in 2016, worst in the NFL.
Cook also has three rushes of at least 25 yards in his first two games, matching the total for all Vikings players combined last season.
Cook’s 191 yards are the most for a Vikings player through his first two career games, breaking Adrian Peterson’s previous mark of 169.
Fournette had a huge Week 1, rushing for 100 yards, but he was held to 40 in a Week 2 loss. Fournette has a rushing touchdown in each of his first two games. Only one player has had a rushing touchdown in each of his first three career games since 2000 -- Karlos Williams, in 2015.
Carson, a seventh-round pick from Oklahoma State, had 39 rushing yards on six carries against the Packers in Week 1 but got the bulk of the workload in Week 2 against the 49ers, rushing 20 times for 93 yards. He may have taken the starting job from Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls.
Carson has done a lot of damage after getting hit. His 2.6 yards after contact per rush ranked third in the NFL entering the week.