AFC East Running Back Power Rankings, Week 2: Breece Hall still that dude!

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 11: Breece Hall #20 of the New York Jets runs with the ball during a game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 11: Breece Hall #20 of the New York Jets runs with the ball during a game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 11, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images) /

Ranking the top 7 running backs in the AFC East heading into NFL Week 2

With Week 1 in the books, the AFC East saw a lot of star power in the first week of NFL action, but not a lot of it came from the running back position.  That should change as the season moves forward.

In Week 1, the New York Jets running game came as advertised, but the running games were limited or almost non-existent for the rest of the AFC East teams in the first week of action.  That should change for the New England Patriots against the Miami Dolphins.  Watch for Rhamondre Stevenson to have a bounce back game.

As for the Buffalo Bills, Josh Allen enters Week 2 as the team’s top rusher, but look out for James Cook to see more touches.  Will he eventually flourish in Game 2?

The New York Jets will have their hands full with the Dallas Cowboys defense.  Will the Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook duo find running lanes in one of the NFL’s top matchups of the week.  As for the Dolphins, when the force named as Tyreek Hill is having his typical game, the running game will always take a back seat, but against Patriots’ defense locked in on stopping Hill and Jaylen Waddle, there may be some running lanes for Dolphins’ running backs.

In all, expect a more active week in the AFC East from the running back position. Going into Week 2, who are the top 7 running backs in the division?  Here are the 7 running backs who made the list after Week 1 of NFL action.

No. 7: (–) Ty Montgomery, New England Patriots

The New England Patriots running back breaks into the Top 7 this week mainly based on how he will be used in Bill O’Brien’s offense.  In Week 1, Ty Montgomery had just 1 carry for 7 yards, but did have 2 receptions for 9 yards in the team’s 25-20 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

As weeks go on, look for Montgomery to take on more of that third-down back role with draw plays and the designed pass plays out of the backfield the Patriots love to run.  As long as he remains healthy, his role in New England should increase.

No. 6: (-) Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

Raheem Mostert stays at No. 6 this week.  The Dolphins running back had 10 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown in the team’s Week 1 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.  With the passing game taking center stage in the offensive shootout, Mostert and the Dolphins running game didn’t factor much into the offense, but it was clear the feature back role in Miami is Mostert’s to lose.

Something to watch in Week 2 is Mostert’s availability for the team’s AFC East battle vs the Patriots.  The Dolphins running back is nursing a knee injury suffered in Sunday’s Week 1 win.

No.5: (-) Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots

With Rhamondre Stevenson playing under the weather, Elliott saw increased touches and had a chance to make some noise in this New England Patriots debut.  However, an early fumble led to an Eagles score and the Patriots’ offense played catchup for the remainder of the game.

Elliot, who rushed the ball for just 29 yards on 7 carries, looks like he will see a lot of action in the passing game.  In the Week 1 loss, Elliott had 5 receptions for 14 yards, a lot of it coming on designed screens that were sniffed out by the Eagles’ defense.

Like Montgomery, Elliott’s role in the Patriots’ offense will be more defined in the coming weeks.  In the season opener, it looks like Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will run with a lot of two back sets with Elliott and Stevenson both on the field.

No. 4: (-) James Cook, Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills most dangerous rusher remains Josh Allen, but second-year running back James Cooks will get his opportunity to shine as a featured back.

In the Bills’ 22-16 loss to the New York Jets on Monday night, Cook had 12 touches for 46 yards on the ground.  He also had 4 catches for 17 yards as the Bills hope he grows into a dual-threat option who will make that offense multi-dimensional.

No. 3: (-1) Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

The Patriots’ dynamic running back was under the weather, and it showed.  With just 25 yards rushing on 12 attempts, Stevenson never got going against a stout Eagles defensive line.  He did have 6 receptions for 64 yards once the Patriots’ offense really got cooking in the second half.

The Oklahoma product won’t have many games rushing the ball like he did to open the season, so watch for Stevenson to stay within striking distance of that No. 1 spot throughout the season.  In playing in those two-back sets along with Elliott, it will be fascinating how the Patriots running game evolves as the season moves forward and that offensive line gets back healthy.

No. 2: (↓1) Dalvin Cook, New York Jets

Not the greatest debut for Dalvin Cook, but that was obviously overshadowed by the injury to Aaron Rodgers.

In the team’s 22-16 victory over the Bills, Cook led the team in carries with 13, but had just 33 yards to show for it.  He did have a 10-yard run in the game to go along with a 15-yard reception, but it was a quiet night for a player who signed late in the preseason with a lot of hype surrounding him.

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With Rodgers out for the season, the Jets’ offense will depend even more on the running game, which will mean a lot more of Cook and the man who overtook him for the No. 1 spot.

No. 1: (↑1) : Breece Hall, New York Jets

Well, that didn’t take long.  It didn’t take long at all.

Coming off a torn ACL, the New York Jets second-round back was supposed to take a little while to get back to strength on-the-field, but a 127-yard rushing performance on Monday night showed Breece Hall is all the way back and as dangerous as ever as displayed by this 83-yard run:

After the game, Hall sent a message to the rest of the AFC East and NFL.

"“Once I got on the field, I was like ‘I’m still that dude.  Anytime I touch the ball, I can do whatever I want with it.’ I always have that mentality,” Hall said, via ProFootBall Talk."

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If he keeps up that mentality, it will be hard to knock him off this No. 1 spot.