Who are the running backs to watch near the goal line? NFL Nation has the answers

Which running backs will be gobbling up short-yardage rushing scores? NFL Nation reporters identify the ball carriers who could be top producers for fantasy owners.

Dallas Cowboys

This is still difficult to answer because the running back competition has not truly taken off in training camp. None of their runners has a goal-line build. Joseph Randle's game is built more on quickness. Darren McFadden's is built on speed. Lance Dunbar is a combination of the two. Randle will be the lead back, so he will get the first crack at goal-line carries but he will have to prove he can pick up the dirty yards that made DeMarco Murray so successful last year. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants

Again, tough to tell, because the Giants have been rotating backs so much in camp. Andre Williams led the team last year with 38 carries inside the red zone and 18 inside the 10-yard line. But Williams' opportunities arose due to Rashad Jennings' injuries, and there's no reason to think Jennings wouldn't have gotten those goal-line carries had he been healthy. As it stood, Jennings got 24 carries in the red zone and 14 inside the 10. If all three backs are healthy and productive – Jennings, Williams and Shane Vereen – my guess is Williams has the best shot at goal-line work, since the Giants have concerns about Jennings' durability and they think Williams runs with more power. -- Dan Graziano

Philadelphia Eagles

DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews are both likely to get the ball when the Eagles are in close. You can probably rule out Sam Bradford taking too many carries away from the backs. Murray may get more touches overall, but Mathews is a big, strong back who seems made for goal-line situations. -- Phil Sheridan

Washington Redskins

The Redskins did add a big back in rookie Matt Jones, but Alfred Morris will still be the guy in the run game. What helps Morris is having a bigger line to run behind this season so, unlike his first two seasons, they're set up to be a power team inside the 5-yard line -- or at least to keep teams guessing. In his first two years, they tried to vary the blocking, but were built for the outside zone. Morris is coming off a career-low average of 2.44 yards per carry in the red zone – and 1.24 yards inside the 10 (the second straight season that number had dropped). -- John Keim

Chicago Bears

This is a tough one for the Bears because Matt Forte historically is taken out of the game near the goal line. He had only six rushing touchdowns in 2014, but I would still take Forte. Rookie Jeremy Langford, who many expect to be Forte's primary backup, is not a physical runner. He's more about speed and quickness. Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers is generously listed at 5-foot-8; I can't see Rodgers getting too many carries inside the 5-yard line. Go with Forte. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

As long as Joique Bell is healthy, he's going to be the between-the-tackles guy for the Lions throughout the season. So expect him to maintain a goal-line role. A sleeper could be fullback Michael Burton since the Lions likely won't be shy to run a fullback set close to the goal line. But as far as running backs, Bell is your goal-line guy -- at least to begin the season. If he gets hurt, it's anyone's guess. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

Last year, Eddie Lacy ranked tied for eighth in the NFL in rushing attempts in goal-to-go situations with 20. The next-closest Packers players were James Starks with six and John Kuhn with four. Lacy scored on six of those 20 carries, while Starks and Kuhn each scored once. There's no reason to think that order will change. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have indicated they're going to give Adrian Peterson the bulk of the work, and people around the team don't expect Peterson to be taken out on the goal line, even though Matt Asiata was one of the league's best short-yardage running backs last season, scoring nine touchdowns from 7 yards and in. It might be worth drafting Asiata for goal-line carries, but Peterson still figures to be the main ball carrier around the goal line. -- Ben Goessling

Atlanta Falcons

Devonta Freeman will be the go-to guy in short-yardage situations. Steven Jackson held that role last year, but the new coaching staff got rid of Jackson. Freeman views himself as an every-down back, while rookie Tevin Coleman and veteran Antone Smith are speedy, big-play threats. Although Freeman's only rushing touchdown as a rookie last season was a 31-yard sprint against New Orleans, he should get plenty of opportunities to punch it into the end zone this year. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Quarterback Cam Newton. Jonathan Stewart may be the featured back now, but Newton has 33 career rushing touchdowns, including five last season. He's still the best choice out of the read-option. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram will likely get the bulk of New Orleans' goal-line carries, and he should come close to 10 touchdowns after scoring nine last year. But the Saints do more rotating at the position than most teams. So C.J. Spiller and Khiry Robinson could spell Ingram at times, keeping him from going too far past 1,000 yards or 10 TDs. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Doug Martin isn’t particularly big and he had only two rushing touchdowns last year. But he is a powerful runner and is likely to get the most touches near the goal line. Martin has shown before he can be an effective goal-line runner, rushing for 11 touchdowns as a rookie in 2012. He should be helped by an offensive line that was overhauled in the offseason. -- Pat Yasinskas

Arizona Cardinals

Andre Ellington is the workhorse for the Cardinals. Last season, he had five carries inside the 5-yard line and scored from the 2 during the Cards' first preseason game. Arizona has quite a few options to hand the ball off to near the goal line, so don't be surprised when Stepfan Taylor or David Johnson get a few short-yardage touchdowns, as well. -- Josh Weinfuss

San Francisco 49ers

Despite the addition of Reggie Bush, Carlos Hyde is the man at the goal line for the Niners. Bush is better in space, and Hyde is replacing the franchise's all-time leading rusher in Frank Gore. How much do the Niners trust Hyde? Well, his four TD rushes as a rookie last year were tied for the team lead ... along with Gore. -- Paul Gutierrez

Seattle Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch does just about everything in Seattle's backfield, including taking the bulk of the carries near the goal line. Backup Robert Turbin has carved out a role as the running back in two-minute situations, but Lynch has been Seattle's go-to guy near the goal line (save for the decisive play of Super Bowl XLIX) and for good reason. He has averaged 12 rushing touchdowns over the past four seasons. -- Brady Henderson

St. Louis Rams

The Rams were simply awful in short-yardage rushing situations near the goal line in 2014. From the 5-yard line and in, they attempted 12 rushes, gaining just 8 yards. They did manage four touchdowns but it was actually Benny Cunningham who had the most success, scoring twice on as many attempts. But their struggles on short yardage were just another reason they spent the No. 10 overall pick on Todd Gurley. It's unlikely Gurley will get a lot of work in the early going but when he's healthy, he's the obvious choice to get goal-line carries. In the meantime, don't be surprised if it's Cunningham, not Tre Mason, getting those opportunities. -- Nick Wagoner

Buffalo Bills

If the Bills can get back to full health for the start of the regular season, this decision should come down to LeSean McCoy or Fred Jackson. Last season, McCoy had 56 carries in the red zone, more than five times as many as any other Eagles runner. Jackson also led the Bills with 26 red zone carries, more than double the amount of any other Bills ball carrier. Bills coaches have given little indication as to which runner will get more red zone and short-yardage carries, saying both McCoy and Jackson will get an opportunity. Considering McCoy and Jackson weren't both healthy for more than a few training camp practices this summer, it's almost impossible to anticipate which will get the nod this season. -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins had issues running the ball in the red zone last year. Part of it was due to the offensive line and part of it was on running back Lamar Miller. As a result, Miller packed on about 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason to get stronger and break more tackles. I'm not optimistic Miller will become a great goal-line threat but he will get the bulk of the carries near the end zone. Rookie fifth-round pick Jay Ajayi could eventually develop into a goal-line option. But he was hampered by a hamstring injury for much of training camp and needs to show more. -- James Walker

New England Patriots

Patriots running backs are anything but a sure thing in fantasy football, but if forced to pick one, LeGarrette Blount is the safest choice. The most telling sign was this: On the first day the Patriots wore pads in training camp, on Aug. 1, Blount got the first reps in goal-line drills. He is positioned as the team's lead power back, but also remember he's suspended for the first game of the regular season. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets

It'll be Chris Ivory's ball when they run near the goal line. He's their best power back and their best overall back, period. He scored a team-high six rushing touchdowns last season; look for that number to increase. Ivory is a good yards-after-contact runner, which makes him appealing in tight quarters. -- Rich Cimini

Baltimore Ravens

Justin Forsett scored seven red zone touchdowns for the Ravens last year, but it looks like the Ravens want to get Lorenzo Taliaferro more involved in this area. Taliaferro has eight carries in the red zone this preseason. It makes sense because Taliaferro is the bigger back. But Taliaferro injured his knee in the second preseason game, so his health is worth monitoring. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Jeremy Hill's focus this offseason was to maintain his overall weight, while working out his legs and beefing up the strength within them. The second-year running back wants to be able to run through tackles better, both in the open field and on short downs and distances. When it comes to the goal line, the best bet for fantasy owners will be to keep Hill on their rosters. According to ESPN Stats & Information, as a rookie last season, Hill handled 17 of the Bengals' 35 handoffs in goal-line situations. Giovani Bernard was next with 11.

-- Coley Harvey

Cleveland Browns

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo said he wants to go with the hot hand. Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery said he wants a bell-cow back. The best hope, for the team and fantasy players: Isaiah Crowell, who had eight TDs last season. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers

Le'Veon Bell is the workhorse who will get the majority of the looks. He's all-purpose enough where he can handle 18 to 20 carries a game and still catch five or six passes. In fact, a catch is like a carry for Bell in the red zone, as he will line up in the slot a ton for this offense. The Steelers have placed an emphasis on scoring over yards this offseason, and having Bell on the field gives them the best chance to score. The only thing that will keep Bell from scoring is the Steelers' penchant for passing the ball, but Bell's such a natural receiver that he can't help but be involved. -- Jeremy Fowler

Houston Texans

That's tough to say until Arian Foster's return. Once Foster comes back, it will be him. The Texans' goal-line offense has been a source of consternation for the coaching staff and that's where they really miss Foster. In the Texans' first preseason game, they ran eight plays inside the 5-yard line, even getting all the way to the 1-yard line, but couldn't score. -- Tania Ganguli

Indianapolis Colts

Coach Chuck Pagano often says they want a bell cow to carry the load in the backfield. That bell cow goes by the name of Frank Gore. He has 49 career touchdowns inside the 20-yard line. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

During camp, the Jaguars have worked several backs in goal-line and short-yardage situations, and that's something I expect to continue. The logical choice would be 231-pound Toby Gerhart, because he's the Jaguars' biggest back and tough inside runs have been where he has had the bulk of his success. But Denard Robinson showed in camp and the preseason that he's a capable inside runner as well. However, the Jaguars have also used Gerhart in the backfield with Robinson and rookie T.J. Yeldon. Yeldon is 226 pounds and showed at Alabama that he can have success inside. If I had to pick a Jaguars goal-line back for my fantasy team, I'd take Gerhart, but my best advice would be to look elsewhere. -- Michael DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

They have more, better options than they have had in the past. In the second preseason game, Bishop Sankey showed the sort of explosiveness he too often lacks, but even at his best, he's not a goal-line type. As a bigger guy, David Cobb is better suited to get the tough yard in tighter space. Antonio Andrews may also get some carries there, and fullback Jalston Fowler has run behind defensive tackle Karl Klug, working as a fullback, on occasion. -- Paul Kuharsky

Denver Broncos

The Broncos had a clearly defined depth chart in the preseason among the running backs with C.J. Anderson at No. 1, Montee Ball No. 2 and Ronnie Hillman No. 3. Anderson is expected to get the most carries in an offense that will feature far more two-tight end and two-back snaps this season, both in the red zone and overall in the offense. It is worth noting the Broncos believe all three backs have a place in the offense and that in 20 previous seasons as a head coach or offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak's offense has had a running back get at least 55 percent of the carries in nine of those seasons. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

Running back Jamaal Charles is only about 200 pounds but he's better in goal-line and short-yardage situations than many people expect. Charles has good vision and the necessary patience to wait for holes to develop. Backup Knile Davis is much bigger at about 227 pounds and more powerful, but doesn't have Charles' vision or patience. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders

Latavius Murray. He is 6-3, 228 pounds and showed a good burst and push at the line of scrimmage in 2014. He will get the first chance to be the goal-line rusher. -- Bill Williamson

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers will use a committee approach, with Mike McCoy riding the hot hand on game days. Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead will get opportunities, but Branden Oliver has shown he has a nose for the end zone. He led San Diego with 586 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns a year ago and has looked even better during preseason play. -- Eric D. Williams