Derick E. Hingle/USA Today

Ranking the Carolina Panthers' Running Backs in the NFC South

The NFC South had two running backs cross the 1,000 rushing mark and a third come very close. Brandon Croce ranks the teams in the NFC South running back position from worst to first.

Over the next few weeks we will be going through the division by position, handing out our rankings to determine which team has the best roster entering the 2016 season. The position groups will be ranked based not only on the starter but the depth behind them from first to fourth with the best team receiving four points. These point totals will then be added up to determine who has the best team this season.

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4 Points)

Running Backs: Doug MartinCharles SimsMike JamesStorm Johnson

The top of the division belongs to the Bucs and Doug Martin. After rushing for only 950 yards in 2013 and 2014 combined, he finished second in the league in rushing yards with 1,402. He finished only 83 rushing yards behind the league leader Adrian Peterson.

The Bucs also have quality depth after Martin with Charles Sims and Mike James. In his second season in the league Sims ran for over 500 yards and averaged nearly five yards per carry. This is a young group that will help the Bucs offense and take pressure off Winston in 2016.

2. Carolina Panthers (3 Points)

Running Backs: Jonathan StewartMike TolbertFozzy WhittakerCameron Artis-Payne

The Panthers finished second in the league in rushing last year with 2,282 rushing yards last year thanks in part to Cam Newton who had 636 rushing yards last year. However, the leading back was Jonathan Stewart, who in his first year as a featured back ran for 989 rushing yards in 13 games.

After Stewart, the running back didn't get a great deal of work as Tolbert, Whittaker and Artis-Payne combined for only 132 carries. However, this is a veteran group and was able to carry the load when Stewart was out.

3. Atlanta Falcons (2 Points)

Running Backs: Devonta FreemanTevin ColemanTerron Ward, Gus Johnson

Devonta Freeman was the only other running back to cross the 1,000 rushing mark however he struggled down the stretch for the Falcons. Through the first eight games of the year, Freeman ran for 709 yards but only ran for 352 rushing yards over the final eight games.

The Falcons also have a talented running back in Tevin Coleman, who had his rookie campaign slowed by injury. If he is fully healthy, he could be a difference maker for this offense and create a dynamic duo at the running back position that will give opposing defenses trouble.

4. New Orleans Saints (1 Point)

Running Backs: Mark IngramTim HightowerC.J. SpillerTravaris Cadet

The Saints backfield probably has the most untapped potential of any team's running backs. However, Mark Ingram is coming off a down year with only 769 rushing yards after rushing for nearly 1,000 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in 2014.

They also added C.J. Spiller in the offseason who was expected to be a dynamic weapon, similar to Reggie Bush a few years ago, for this Saints offense. Spiller struggled for most of the year with only 112 rushing yards and an additional 239 receiving yards. If both of these players are able to improve off of their 2015 season and play to their potential, this is an explosive group that will be tough to stop.

Team Quarterback Running Back Wide Receiver Tight End Offensive Line Total
Carolina Panthers 4 3 7
New Orleans Saints 3 1 4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2 4 6
Atlanta Falcons 1 2 3


*Depth charts courtesy of

Twitter @BrandonCroce

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