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What's The Rush?!
By Garth Pearce
Special to gzl-football.com

After 4 weeks of the 2019 season there is a serious push of rushing games hitting the stat sheets that has me wondering if we'll see multiple players reach 2000 yards this year. It's a big task to keep a consistent game going over 17 weeks, but sometimes all it takes is a really big game to propel a player back into contention. Below are some of the top contenders putting out the yardage this year on the ground and some notable inclusions based on their history or their meteoric rise in fortunes.

Todd Gurley - Week 4 projected target: 2076 yards, 12 TDs. After week 5 he was still on track for this same sort of result in yardage and touchdowns with his only concern being his fumble numbers (only 1 game so far without a fumble) which already exceed his number from last year. Has 3x games over 100 yards and seems to be the early pick for back to reach 200 yards this year. With Tannenhill behind center in Tampa he's their primary offensive weapon and should see plenty of opportunities to gain momentum on the rushing front.

Jeremy Hill - Week 4 projected target: 2052 yards, 20 TDs. Has fallen off the pace this week, now looking at 1885 yards for the year and only 16 touchdowns. Has had 3x 100+ yard games, hasn't fumbled the ball yet and has 5 times as many touchdowns as last year (5 so far versus 1 in 2018) and is already more then halfway past his last years yardage total (589 yards versus 998 in 2018). The Eagles look to be reborn this year (of course they would, I have their 1st round pick) and are utilizing their weapons like Hill to the best of their abilities.

Bull Griggs - Week 4 projected target: 1984 yards, 20 TDs. Another who fell off the frantic pace this week, sliding to a target of 1821 yards and 16 touchdowns with 2x 100+ yard games so far. He's still sitting on his best average per carry of his career and is lining up to eclipse his best scoring season of 11 (both tallies from his rookie year).

Eddie Lacy - Week 4 projected target: 1868 yards, 8 TDs. A bad week and Lacy drops to 1648 yards for the year and a target of about 7 touchdowns now. Has 3x 100+ yard games so far but seems to do the grunt work with most of the rewards handed out elsewhere (but as a team that's working for the Ravens so far). Hasn't been known over his career for massive yardage years or scoring years, but he has shown that he can rip out big runs so anything is possible.

Mark Ingram - Week 4 projected target: 1864 yards, 16 TD. Didn't score this week so is down to a target of about 13 touchdowns this year but is still maintaining the output for the same yardage target. Has 4x 100+ yard games and the Raiders have won every time he reaches this mark. From a guy who has reached over 2000 yards previously on 2 occasions (only player to do so) you need almost 400 carries in a year and an average per carry of over 5 yards to reach those lofty heights.

Doug Martin Week 4 projected target: 1963 yards, 6 TDs. A quiet week sees him drop to 1716 yards and is now looking at 4 touchdowns for the year which is miles below his normal returns. The addition of Mike Glennon and an effective passing attack has taken the full weight of this team off his shoulders and he probably isn't seeing as much of the rock as he's used to, so it's likely he won't be returning to the 2000+ yard club just yet.

Special mentions:

One of the biggest surprises of the year is Giovani Bernard and his dramatic turn around in fortunes. It seems that Josh Freeman coming to town has lifted his games to a height never experienced before as he has an average over 4 ypc for the first time in his career (a whopping increase to 5.16 from his previous best of 3.98), has already equalled his previous season high for touchdowns with 5 and is already a third of the way to his best yardage output in a year (1124 yards). He's on track to record 1672 yards and 20 TDs for the year if he can keep this pace up, but bye weeks can be notorious for a change in fortunes so when he hits the field again in week 6 in Pittsburgh. He's notched up 2x 100+ yard games so far but struggled in their only loss to date, so is his running success a barometer for this resurgent Bengals team?

What about career leading Ryan Mathews, the guy who sits atop the all time leader board? After a sub par year in 2017 for San Diego and diminishing physical abilities he was allowed to follow former GM John Stanley to the Giants where this reunion didn't go as plan. Mathews spent most of the 2018 season injured and the departure of Stanley from New York saw Mathews tenure cut short as well and he has currently spent this season in the free agent pool. He's not likely to see a starting gig in the remainder of his career but he could fill a backup spot or take the reins due to injury this year, but the pressing question remains: Will he lose his crown as the leagues all-time rushing leader? If so who will be the first to surpass him? And who's most likely to hold it securely for the longest?
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