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Bell leads the NFL in rushing yards and rushing attempts.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell is having another sensational season. Since 2014, Bell is averaging 91.3 rushing yards and 46.5 receiving yards per game. Bell actually leads all players in yards from scrimmage since 2014 despite missing 14 games! He’s averaging 137.8 yards from scrimmage per game since 2014; Ezekiel Elliott is second at 129.9, but he only played in 23 games. If you exclude Elliott, the next two players are wide receivers (Antonio Brown and Julio Jones) at 106.3 and 104.3, respectively. In fact, excluding Elliot, no other running back has averaged even 100 yards from scrimmage per game; LeSean McCoy is second to Bell at 99.9 yards per game.

Bell is not just a yards from scrimmage star, however. As of yesterday, he was also leading the NFL in rushing yards, Bell is at 1,105 rushing yards, ahead of Kareem Hunt (1,046), Todd Gurley (1,035), Jordan Howard (1,032), and McCoy (1,007). Last night, Hunt rushed for 155 yards in a win over the Chargers, so he is now ahead of Bell (the Steelers play the Patriots today). Elliott is at 97.9 rushing yards per game, a bit ahead of Bell (85.0), but Elliott has missed five (soon to be six) games due to suspension.

Assuming Bell does go on to win the rushing crown, he may in fact join a pretty rare group: leading the NFL in rushing yards despite averaging fewer than 4.0 yards per carry. Right now, Bell is at 3.90 yards per carry, and there’s a good chance his YPC either improves or if it doesn’t, he doesn’t wind up winning the rushing crown. But if he does win the rushing title, Bell would have the lowest yards per carry average of any rushing champion since Football Perspective favorite Eddie Price back in 1951.

The table below shows the rushing yards leader in each season in the NFL, AFL, and AAFC since 1932.

Running BackYearTeamLgRushYardsYPC
Whizzer White1940DETNFL1465143.52
Doug Russell1935CRDNFL1404993.56
Eddie Price1951NYGNFL2719713.58
Whizzer White1938PITNFL1525673.73
Bill Paschal1944NYGNFL1967373.76
Bill Paschal1943NYGNFL1475723.89
Cliff Battles1932BOSNFL1485763.89
Floyd Little1971DENNFL28411333.99
Christian Okoye1989KANNFL37014804.00
Tuffy Leemans1936NYGNFL2068304.03
Cliff Battles1937WASNFL2168744.05
Bill Dudley1946PITNFL1466044.14
Edgerrin James1999INDNFL36915534.21
Charles White1987RAMNFL32413744.24
Cookie Gilchrist1964BUFAFL2309814.27
Eric Dickerson1988INDNFL38816594.28
Emmitt Smith1991DALNFL36515634.28
O.J. Simpson1972BUFNFL29212514.28
Bill Dudley1942PITNFL1626964.30
Paul Robinson1968CINAFL23810234.30
Steve Van Buren1949PHINFL26311464.36
Gale Sayers1969CHINFL23610324.37
Pug Manders1941BKNNFL1114864.38
Edgerrin James2000INDNFL38717094.42
George Rogers1981NORNFL37816744.43
Eric Dickerson1986RAMNFL40418214.51
Alan Ameche1955BALNFL2139614.51
Jim Nance1967BOSAFL26912164.52
Adrian Peterson2015MINNFL32714854.54
Curtis Martin2004NYJNFL37116974.57
Jim Brown1959CLENFL29013294.58
Emmitt Smith1992DALNFL37317134.59
Earl Campbell1979HOUNFL36816974.61
Jim Brown1961CLENFL30514084.62
Marcus Allen1985RAINFL38017594.63
Eric Dickerson1983RAMNFL39018084.64
Steve Van Buren1947PHINFL21710084.65
Jim Brown1957CLENFL2029424.66
Jim Musick1933BOSNFL1738094.68
LaDainian Tomlinson2007SDGNFL31514744.68
Maurice Jones-Drew2011JAXNFL34316064.68
Steve Van Buren1948PHINFL2019454.70
Emmitt Smith1995DALNFL37717734.70
DeMarco Murray2014DALNFL39218454.71
Billy Cannon1961HOUAFL2009484.74
Larry Brown1970WASNFL23711254.75
Priest Holmes2001KANNFL32715554.76
Dickie Post1969SDGAFL1828734.80
Earl Campbell1978HOUNFL30214504.80
Rick Casares1956CHINFL23411264.81
Ricky Williams2002MIANFL38318534.84
Adrian Peterson2008MINNFL36317604.85
Jim Nance1966BOSAFL29914584.88
Arian Foster2010HOUNFL32716164.94
Leroy Kelly1968CLENFL24812395.00
Paul Lowe1965SDGAFL22211215.05
Barry Sanders1996DETNFL30715535.06
Spec Sanders1946NYYAAFC1407095.06
Ezekiel Elliott2016DALNFL32216315.07
Shaun Alexander2005SEANFL37018805.08
Clem Daniels1963OAKAFL21510995.11
Barry Sanders1990DETNFL25513045.11
LeSean McCoy2013PHINFL31416075.12
Cookie Gilchrist1962BUFAFL21410965.12
Terrell Davis1998DENNFL39220085.12
Leroy Kelly1967CLENFL23512055.13
Jim Brown1964CLENFL28014465.16
O.J. Simpson1976BUFNFL29015035.18
Earl Campbell1980HOUNFL37319345.18
Freeman McNeil1982NYJNFL1517865.21
LaDainian Tomlinson2006SDGNFL34818155.22
Emmitt Smith1993DALNFL28314865.25
Joe Perry1953SFONFL19210185.30
Jamal Lewis2003BALNFL38720665.34
Jim Brown1965CLENFL28915445.34
Otis Armstrong1974DENNFL26314075.35
Gale Sayers1966CHINFL22912315.38
Jim Taylor1962GNBNFL27214745.42
Walter Payton1977CHINFL33918525.46
O.J. Simpson1975BUFNFL32918175.52
Eric Dickerson1984RAMNFL37921055.55
Chris Johnson2009TENNFL35820065.60
Abner Haynes1960DTXAFL1568755.61
Barry Sanders1994DETNFL33118835.69
Dan Towler1952RAMNFL1568945.73
Bill Osmanski1939CHINFL1216995.78
Marion Motley1950CLENFL1408105.79
Steve Van Buren1945PHINFL1438325.82
Jim Brown1960CLENFL21512575.85
Jim Brown1958CLENFL25715275.94
Adrian Peterson2012MINNFL34820976.03
O.J. Simpson1973BUFNFL33220036.03
Joe Perry1954SFONFL17310496.06
Barry Sanders1997DETNFL33520536.13
Marion Motley1948CLEAAFC1579646.14
Spec Sanders1947NYYAAFC23114326.20
Jim Brown1963CLENFL29118636.40
Joe Perry1949SFOAAFC1157836.81
Beattie Feathers1934CHINFL11910048.44

In the last 20 years, Edgerrin James has the two lowest YPC averages of any rushing leader.  Before James, the lowest YPC average belongs to Christian Okoye, who averaged exactly 4.00 yards per carry in 1989.  Okoye narrowly avoided being one of just two running backs since the AFL-NFL merger to lead the NFL in rushing with a sub-4.00 YPC average. That lone honor therefore belongs to Floyd Little, who averaged 3.99 YPC in 1971.

{ 3 comments }
  • sacramento gold miners

    Bell’s big rushing game versus New England pushed him over the 4.0 mark, and with Antonio Brown sidelined, the Steelers may depend on him even more in these last two games. We’ve also reached the point in the season where some losing teams are basically mailing it in.

    • Technically, he’s still sub-4.0; he’s at 3.98, which rounds up to 4.0 on most sites.

  • Le’Veon Bell is now at 3.98 YPC and back in the rushing lead after going for 24/117 against the Patriots.