Running the ball in today's NFL is not about having a workhorse back who's relied on for 30 carries a game. Rushing is far more about opportunity and getting the right look from a defense.
Matt Forte leads the NFL in carries by nine, and his 102 carries work out to just over 20 per game. After five weeks, only 19 running backs have more than 60 carries, and your backfield is far more likely to be effective with a fully rounded skill set than one player who can plow into the line of scrimmage 400 times in a season.
Let's take a look at the top five backfields in the NFL so far this season:
The Steelers have the league's best and most complete running back right now in the shape of Le'Veon Bell. Averaging almost 5 yards per carry (4.9) is impressive enough, but 3.5 of those yards are coming after contact. He has forced 15 missed tackles on his 62 carries and gained the same number of yards after contact (220) as Jonathan Stewart and Matt Jones have gained total.
What makes Bell so special, however, is his work in the passing game; he's caught 18 of the 19 passes sent his way so far this season. Bell is a big back, at 6-foot-1 and around 225 pounds, but he has been used split out wide and in the slot this year, especially against the Rams and 49ers.
In those two games alone, Bell lined up as a wide receiver on 24 occasions. Monday night against the Chargers saw him line up at quarterback taking direct snaps five times. Bell is a dynamic weapon along the lines of Marshall Faulk, carrying only 15-plus pounds more than Faulk ever did.