Despite teams being wary of handing out lucrative contracts to the position, running backs are still vital to each offense in the NFL.
When looking around the league, there are plenty of talented running backs who can provide production in multiple areas.
Discussing the best running backs in the NFL is an interesting exercise since everyone will have differing opinions on certain players. With characteristics like rushing ability, receiving ability, and efficiency being critical components for a great running back, here are the top 50 players at the position.
RB Rankings 50-41
50. Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers
We saw Warren operate as the change-of-pace back behind Najee Harris as a rookie in 2022, and he was extremely efficient. The undrafted back logged 5.6 yards per touch, and there were times he looked better than his backfield mate.
If Harris continues to be inefficient on the ground, Warren could see an increased role as the 2023 season progresses.
49. Leonard Fournette, Free Agent
For the second time in his career, Fournette produced 3.5 yards or fewer per rushing attempt in 2022, showing signs of decline.
Fournette remains a free agent, and regardless of who signs him, he won’t handle a massive workload in an offense anymore.
48. Ezekiel Elliott, Free Agent
Elliott is another early first-round running back that remains a free agent.
While he recorded a career-worst 3.8 yards per attempt last season, he scored 12-plus touchdowns for the third time, making him an enticing short-yardage option for interested teams.
47. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings
Mattison is a tough player to rank right now. We have seen him handle large workloads before when Dalvin Cook missed time. Now that Cook has been released, Mattison is expected to carry the load, even though he is a player who has averaged only 4.1 yards per attempt in his career.
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Mattison could climb up the rankings with a stellar campaign in 2023.
46. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens
Edwards missed eight games in 2022 due to injury, but he still managed to register five-plus yards per attempt for the fourth straight year.
Before last season, Edwards had recorded 700-plus rushing yards in his first three seasons, proving he can handle a more significant role if J.K. Dobbins misses time.
45. Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks used the 52nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft on Charbonnet, pairing him with Kenneth Walker.
Charbonnet will likely see more usage in Seattle’s passing game as a rookie following his final collegiate season at UCLA, where he caught 37 passes and totaled 1,680 yards from scrimmage.
44. D’Onta Foreman, Chicago Bears
A former third-round pick, Foreman notched career-best marks in attempts (203), rushing yards (914), and rushing touchdowns (five) in 2022 after the Carolina Panthers traded Christian McCaffrey.
The sixth-year veteran now joins a Bears backfield that also features Khalil Herbert and rookie Roschon Johnson.
43. Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins
After beginning last season with the San Francisco 49ers, Wilson reunited with Mike McDaniel on the Dolphins and was effective in a complementary role.
Wilson posted 5.1 yards per touch in 2022 and should see a similar role in 2023 alongside Raheem Mostert and rookie De’Von Achane.
42. James Cook, Buffalo Bills
Cook is an interesting running back to dissect, as his 5.7 yards per attempt as a rookie in 2022 and his receiving ability are ideal for the position.
However, he’s a bit undersized, and the Bills brought in Damien Harris to prevent Cook from handling an expanded workload following the departure of Devin Singletary.
41. Devin Singletary, Houston Texans
Even with Singletary being a smaller back, he has recorded 38 or more receptions and 16 starts in each of the last three seasons with the Bills.
Singletary is poised to see passing-down work with the Texans as Dameon Pierce looks to build upon his impressive rookie season in the NFL.
RB Rankings 40-31
40. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders
Gibson scampered for 1,037 rushing yards in 2021, only for the Commanders to limit him to six starts in 2022.
Maybe new OC Eric Bieniemy will finally utilize the 2020 third-round pick correctly since he has caught 42-plus passes in back-to-back seasons.
39. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Amid the visible decline of Fournette — and the Buccaneers’ offense — last season, White got more run as the season advanced.
Although he averaged only 3.7 yards per attempt in 2022, the second-year back caught 50 passes and will be the starter for Tampa Bay in 2023.
38. Samaje Perine, Denver Broncos
There were moments in 2022 when Perine looked much better than Joe Mixon in Cincinnati’s offense.
He became a trusted running back for the Bengals in recent years and will now join a Sean Payton-led Broncos offense in wait-and-see mode for Javonte Williams, who is recovering from a season-ending knee injury.
37. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins
Before Wilson was traded to the Dolphins last season, Mostert was the first former 49ers running back to reunite with McDaniel.
Even though he isn’t as fast as he once was, Mostert still managed to tally 5.2 yards per touch and more than 1,000 scrimmage yards in 2022.
36. Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders
Robinson was quite the story in 2022 after he was shot in the leg ahead of his rookie season with the Commanders.
The Alabama product still handled 205 carries in 12 games, and it’s clear that Washington wants him to be its early-down back under Bieniemy.
35. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Injuries and inefficiency have plagued Akers since joining the Rams in 2020.
A solid finish to the 2022 season has many expecting a breakout campaign from the former second-round pick. However, Akers’ inability to create chunk plays and his lack of receiving production could lead to his role being altered.
34. Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs
Pacheco is a physical runner that added another dimension to the Chiefs’ offense as a rookie last season.
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The seventh-round pick out of Rutgers notched 830 rushing yards in 2022 and will continue to share the backfield with Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
33. Rashaad Penny, Philadelphia Eagles
Availability is the only thing preventing Penny from being higher on this list.
Penny has been one of the most efficient backs in the NFL over the last two seasons, logging 6.2 yards per attempt. He will now join a dynamic Eagles backfield that features Jalen Hurts, D’Andre Swift, and Kenneth Gainwell.
32. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons
In a run-centric offense under Arthur Smith, Allgeier thrived as a rookie in 2022 with 1,035 rushing yards on 4.9 yards per attempt.
Even though he should maintain a role in Atlanta’s offense, the Falcons used the eighth overall pick on Bijan Robinson in this year’s draft.
31. Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
Mitchell has made the most of his opportunities in his first two seasons with the 49ers despite missing 12 games in 2022.
The 25-year-old back can handle a starting role in San Francisco’s offense, and he is a perfect No. 2 option to spell McCaffrey when he needs a breather.
RB Rankings 30-21
30. Damien Harris, Buffalo Bills
Harris failed to play a full season with the New England Patriots in any of his first four seasons, but he has averaged a solid 4.7 yards per attempt in his career.
He will now face the Patriots twice in 2023 as part of a Bills offense that could allow him to succeed in short-yardage situations.
29. AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers
Dillon is difficult to gauge since he has seen his yards per attempt decline in each of his first three seasons.
At the same time, he has improved as a pass catcher and could see even more usage in 2023 alongside Aaron Jones, with Jordan Love taking over for Aaron Rodgers under center.
(See where Love and Rodgers rank in our NFL QB rankings.)
28. Jamaal Williams, New Orleans Saints
2022 was a breakout party for Williams, who registered career-high marks in attempts (262), rushing yards (1.066), and rushing touchdowns (17) in his second year with the Detroit Lions.
The always-interesting back signed with the Saints this offseason, and his role is dependent on the outcome of Alvin Kamara’s legal situation.
27. David Montgomery, Detroit Lions
Montgomery signed with the Lions this offseason to replace Williams, while Jahmyr Gibbs was selected in the first round to handle Swift’s role.
The former Chicago Bears back isn’t the most efficient runner, but he had the eighth-most broken tackles (20) in 2022 and received 235-plus touches each of his first four seasons.
26. Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears
With Montgomery no longer in Chicago, Herbert could break out in 2023.
The former sixth-round pick looked much more effective than Montgomery a season ago, averaging 5.7 yards per touch and ranking second among all running backs with 2.5 yards after contact per attempt.
25. Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions
After seeing Robinson go eighth overall to the Falcons, the Lions took Gibbs with the 12th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Gibbs should see plenty of snaps in the passing game, but the presence of Montgomery could limit his rushing production.
24. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
Despite never eclipsing 1,000 rushing yards in his career (primarily due to injuries), Conner has been a solid dual-threat back in recent years.
The Cardinals will likely lean heavily on Conner again in 2023 as Kyler Murray recovers from a torn ACL and the offense adjusts to the release of DeAndre Hopkins.
23. Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers
Sanders benefitted from the Eagles’ offense taking massive strides in 2022 as he produced career-highs in attempts (259), rushing yards (1,269), and rushing touchdowns (11).
While he isn’t a steady receiver, Sanders is primed for a heavy workload with the Panthers as long as he can remain healthy.
22. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
We saw glimpses of Williams’ potential as a rookie in 2021 and parts of 2022 before he sustained a season-ending knee injury.
His timetable to return is uncertain entering the 2023 campaign, but he is projected to be the full-time starter for the Broncos when fully healthy.
21. D’Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles
Swift is a running back that is tough to quit despite the Lions never trusting him to have an expanded role in the backfield.
A change of scenery could be what Swift needs to maximize his dual-threat ability, and it doesn’t hurt that he’ll be joining a much more dynamic offense in the process.
RB Rankings 20-11
20. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
When discussing Harris, it is tough to overlook his inefficiency since he has only averaged 4.2 yards per touch in his career.
That being said, his volume is through the roof, and the Steelers will lean on him again in 2023 with an offensive line that is expected to be much improved.
19. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
Contrary to Harris, Dobbins has never struggled to be efficient with the ball in his hands, evidenced by his 5.9 yards per touch over his first two seasons.
Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL, but he is now a year removed from that and could see more passing-down work this season with Todd Monken taking over as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator.
18. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Mixon is one of the few workhorse backs remaining in the NFL, but his efficiency numbers have declined in recent years.
Even with Mixon’s production trending downward, the Bengals have yet to add much competition in the backfield, setting him up to be the team’s go-to back again in 2023.
17. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans
Some people overlooked Pierce’s 2022 rookie campaign since he played for a dismal Texans team.
But before missing the season’s final four games, Pierce registered 1,104 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns on 250 touches, making him a back to watch in 2023 in a revamped offense.
16. Kenneth Walker, Seattle Seahawks
Walker was another first-year back that thrived in 2022, posting 1,215 scrimmage yards and nine touchdowns for the Seahawks.
He should remain Seattle’s featured back in 2023, but Charbonnet could steal some passing-down work.
15. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
The Saints added Williams and rookie Kendre Miller this offseason, signs that Kamara won’t be handling his usual workload anymore.
In recent years, the elusive back has seen his efficiency tail off. It also remains to be seen if Kamara will serve a suspension during the 2023 campaign as his legal situation continues to unfold.
14. Dalvin Cook, Free Agent
Cook has produced four consecutive seasons of 1,100 or more rushing yards and will be just 28 years old entering the 2023 campaign.
Although he remains a free agent, the good news is that he finally underwent shoulder surgery this offseason and could still have a year or two left as an effective starter.
13. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
In a year where the Jacksonville Jaguars took a massive leap forward, Etienne played a significant role by totaling 1,441 scrimmage yards on 255 touches after missing his rookie season.
If Etienne can make slight improvements in the receiving game, he will ascend these rankings quickly.
12. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
Stevenson became the focal point of an ugly Patriots’ offense last season and undoubtedly made the most of his opportunity.
The former fourth-round pick surpassed 1,000 rushing yards and hauled in 69 passes in 2022, and he should be deployed often again in 2023 under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.
11. Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
Rookies can be challenging to rank, but Robinson isn’t a typical rookie running back.
The Texas product was one of the most coveted players in the 2023 draft class, and he is poised for a highly productive rookie campaign in Atlanta’s run-oriented offense.
There’s a chance Robinson approaches top-five status during his rookie season.
RB Rankings 10-1
10. Breece Hall, New York Jets
Placing Hall in the top 10 is a projection of what to expect from him moving forward based on what we saw from him as a rookie.
Despite missing the team’s final nine games due to a torn ACL, Hall logged 6.9 yards per touch last season. His production could improve with Aaron Rodgers now leading the charge for the Jets.
9. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Pollard is coming off a severe ankle injury he suffered in the playoffs, but there is plenty to like as he prepares for the upcoming season.
After leading all running backs in yards after contact per attempt (2.6) and finding the end zone 12 times in 2022, Pollard is trending upward with Elliott no longer in the backfield for the Cowboys.
8. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
Jones is one of the most underrated backs in the NFL and continues to produce stellar numbers.
He boasts an average of 5.6 yards per touch over his career and has tallied 47-plus catches in each of the last four years. Even with Dillon sharing the backfield in Green Bay, Jones will remain a focal point with Love operating the offense.
7. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
You could argue Jacobs was the best running back in 2022 since he recorded 2,053 scrimmage yards and 12 touchdowns on a whopping 393 touches.
The Raiders placed the franchise tag on Jacobs, who has been adamant about not playing on the tag this season. Even if Jacobs gets fewer touches in 2023, he is still one of the better running backs in the league.
6. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler has never rushed for over 1,000 yards in his career, but his dual-threat ability and touchdown prowess makes him one of the best backs in the NFL.
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The Chargers’ veteran running back will now play in a Kellen Moore offense after accumulating 177 receptions and 38 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
5. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts endured a forgettable 2022 season, and it was the same for Taylor. After notching 2,171 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021, he finished with only 1,004 yards and four touchdowns last season.
The good news for Taylor is that he’s seemingly healthy after undergoing offseason ankle surgery, and he’ll be playing alongside dynamic rookie QB Anthony Richardson in the Indianapolis backfield.
4. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
For the first time since 2019, we finally got a chance to watch a healthy version of Barkley in 2022.
In his first year under Brian Daboll, Barkley racked up 1,650 scrimmage yards on 352 touches. The Penn State product is another talented back who received the franchise tag and isn’t planning on playing unless he is awarded a new contract.
3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
People continue to predict the demise of Henry, and he continues to defy everything we know about aging running backs.
Even with the Titans being a below-average team in 2022, Henry still managed to rush for 1,538 yards and recorded a career-best 398 receiving yards on 33 receptions. There’s no reason to believe he will show many signs of slowing down in 2023 despite having 300-plus touches in three of the last four seasons.
2. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Chubb could be the best pure runner in the NFL as he has been a model of consistency with four consecutive seasons of 1,000-plus rushing yards and eight-plus touchdowns.
With Kareem Hunt no longer in the picture, we could see Chubb get more usage in the passing game entering Deshaun Watson’s second year with the organization.
1. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers
The No. 1 running back on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise.
McCaffrey is the perfect modern-day back, and although injuries have been a concern in recent years, he has recorded 80 or more receptions in the four full seasons he’s played in his career.
After being traded to the 49ers midway through the 2022 campaign, he’ll now have the offseason to get acclimated to Kyle Shanahan‘s offense.