Best Running Backs NFL 2023 – Top 10 Elite of the Gridiron

Top 10 Best Running Backs NFL 2023


Best Running Backs



Christian McCaffrey

San Francisco 49ers


Josh Jacobs

Las Vegas Raiders


Derrick Henry

Tennessee Titans


Nick Chubb

Cleveland Browns


Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts


Austin Ekeler

Los Angeles Chargers


Saquon Barkley

New York Giants


Aaron Jones

Green Bay Packers


Dalvin Cook

Free Agent


Tony Pollard

Dallas Cowboys

Best Running Backs NFL 2023

The 2023 NFL season promises to showcase an impressive array of talent in the running back position. These athletes are not only known for their exceptional rushing abilities but also for their versatility in the modern NFL landscape, which places a significant emphasis on both running and receiving skills. In this overview, we’ll introduce you to the top running backs who are set to make a substantial impact on the field, offering their respective clubs a potent combination of speed, power, and game-changing capabilities. Get ready to witness the dynamic performances of these outstanding running backs as they compete to secure their place among the league’s elite in the 2023 season.


1. Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers)

Christian McCaffrey, the star running back for the San Francisco 49ers, has solidified his reputation as one of the NFL’s most versatile and electrifying players. Renowned for his exceptional pass-catching skills and explosive playmaking ability, McCaffrey’s impact on the field transcends traditional running back duties. His journey with the 49ers began midway through the 2022 season, where he swiftly adapted to their offensive scheme, showcasing his immense talent. With a full offseason to further integrate into the team, McCaffrey is poised to elevate his game in the 2023 season. However, a recurring challenge for him is maintaining his health, as injuries have intermittently plagued his career. Additionally, McCaffrey will need to share touches with other offensive playmakers such as Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, Brandon Aiyuk, and Elijah Mitchell. Nevertheless, McCaffrey’s unique ability to excel as both a runner and receiver makes him an indispensable asset to the 49ers, positioning him as a top contender in the NFL’s running back rankings.

2. Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

Josh Jacobs, representing the Las Vegas Raiders, epitomizes consistency and reliability in the running back position. Emerging from Alabama with limited wear and tear on his body, Jacobs has become a cornerstone for the Raiders’ offensive success. In the 2022 season, he led the league in rushing yards, accumulating an impressive 1,653 yards on 340 carries, all while averaging 4.9 yards per carry. His contributions extended beyond ground attacks, as he added 400 receiving yards, showcasing his versatility as a dual-threat back. Jacobs possesses a unique blend of elusiveness, power, and the ability to break tackles, setting him apart as a top-tier running back. Despite contractual disputes with the Raiders, Jacobs remains an invaluable asset to the team. His performance will continue to be pivotal in the Raiders’ quest for success, especially in the fiercely competitive AFC West. With a combination of reliability and the potential for game-changing plays, Jacobs remains a central figure in the Raiders’ offensive scheme, ensuring that he remains a prominent name in NFL running back discussions.

3. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

Derrick Henry, the cornerstone of the Tennessee Titans’ offensive attack, stands as one of the NFL’s most imposing and prolific running backs. Despite concerns surrounding his ability to rebound after a Jones fracture in his right foot during the 2021 season, Henry silenced doubters in the 2022 campaign. He led the league in rushing with a staggering 1,538 yards, ranking second in rushing yards, and tallied an impressive 13 touchdowns, tying for second in the league. Henry also displayed newfound versatility as a pass-catcher, amassing 33 receptions for 398 yards. Even at 29 years of age, Henry remains one of the league’s premier running backs, demonstrating his ability to carry the Titans’ offensive load behind an occasionally subpar offensive line. His combination of raw power, breakaway speed, and durability make him an indispensable asset to the Titans and firmly secure his position among the NFL’s elite running backs as he anticipates the challenges of the 2023 season.

4. Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)

Nick Chubb, representing the Cleveland Browns, epitomizes consistency and top-tier production in the running back position. While he may not accumulate rushing yards or touchdowns at the same rate as some of his peers, Chubb’s ability to consistently make an impact cannot be understated. Over the past three seasons, he has boasted an impressive average of 5.3 yards per carry, ranking him among the league’s best backs with over 500 carries. In the 2022 season, his average of 5.0 yards per carry tied for fourth in the league, despite carrying the ball over 50 times more than those ahead of him. Moreover, Chubb’s 88 runs of 10 or more yards over the last two seasons comfortably secure his top spot in this category. While other running backs may grab headlines with flashy plays, Chubb’s unwavering consistency and ability to consistently produce at an elite level make him an invaluable asset for the Cleveland Browns. Expect Chubb to continue to be a vital cog in the Browns’ offensive machinery as he strives for excellence in the upcoming 2023 season.

5. Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

Jonathan Taylor, representing the Indianapolis Colts, has quickly made a name for himself as one of the NFL’s premier running backs. In his first two seasons in the league, Taylor rushed for over 1,100 yards each year, with his standout performance occurring in his second season, where he amassed a remarkable 1,811 rushing yards in 17 games. However, the previous season saw Taylor face challenges due to injuries and subpar team performance. His yards per carry dropped from 5.5 to 4.5, and he struggled with suboptimal offensive line play and an ankle injury that sidelined him for six games. Despite these setbacks, Taylor remains a dynamic and explosive runner who has yet to play with a franchise quarterback. The addition of Anthony Richardson, a promising rookie QB, should open up opportunities for Taylor by drawing defenses’ attention away from the run game. As Taylor enters his contract year, expectations are high for the 24-year-old back to return to his 2021 form when he was considered one of the best running backs in football. His signature jump cuts and breakaway speed make him a force to be reckoned with, and the Colts will rely on his explosiveness to lead their ground attack.

6. Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers)

Austin Ekeler, a standout running back for the Los Angeles Chargers, is renowned as one of the NFL’s premier pass-catching backs. Ekeler’s journey to success is marked by his undrafted entry into the league, which only adds to his remarkable story. The 2022 season was nothing short of epic for Ekeler, as he recorded 204 carries, 107 receptions, and 18 total touchdowns, showcasing his versatility as both a runner and a pass-catcher. Some even argue that Ekeler may surpass Christian McCaffrey, given McCaffrey’s struggles with injuries and a dip in production. Ekeler’s ability to excel in both roles makes him a significant threat to opposing defenses. Despite his contract-related issues during the offseason, Ekeler remains a key figure in the Chargers’ offensive plans. As new Chargers offensive coordinator Kellen Moore seeks innovative ways to utilize Ekeler’s skills, the 28-year-old back aims to prove his worth and solidify his place among the NFL’s best running backs. His unique combination of speed, agility, and receiving prowess makes him an asset to the Chargers and a force to be reckoned with in the 2023 season.

7. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

Saquon Barkley, the star running back for the New York Giants, is renowned for his exceptional blend of power and elusiveness. When fully healthy, Barkley is arguably one of the most dominant forces in any NFL backfield. However, injuries have been a recurring issue throughout his career, including ankle and knee ailments that have hampered his performance. Even in a season marked by physical setbacks, Barkley displayed his exceptional talents, showcasing a rare combination of strength and agility. Yet, his 2022 season was hindered by a late-season shoulder injury, which limited his effectiveness. The Giants’ offensive line improvements and Barkley’s return to full health will be closely watched in the 2023 season, as fans eagerly anticipate seeing him perform at his best. Despite his injury challenges, Barkley remains a tantalizing prospect, boasting tremendous potential if he can maintain his physical condition and run behind a robust offensive line.

8. Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers)

Aaron Jones, the Green Bay Packers’ dynamic running back, emerged as a vital component of the team’s offensive strategy in recent seasons. In 2022, he showcased his significance as he often proved to be more essential to the Packers’ offense than even star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Despite the struggles faced by the quarterback and the offense as a whole, Jones demonstrated his worth by accumulating 1,121 rushing yards and contributing 59 receptions for 395 receiving yards, highlighting his versatility as an every-down back. His touchdown numbers might not have skyrocketed in fantasy football terms, but Jones is undeniably a valuable asset for the team, capable of making a significant impact. With an impressive yards-per-attempt average of 5.3 and a career-high catch percentage (81.9) in 2022, Jones exemplified reliability and efficiency. Additionally, his willingness to work closely with first-year starter Jordan Love during the offseason underscores his commitment to the team’s success. Jones’ performance is expected to be crucial once more in the 2023 season as Love continues to develop, making him an indispensable figure in Green Bay’s offensive plans.

9. Dalvin Cook (Free Agent)

Dalvin Cook, a notable free agent, has been an exceptional running back for the Minnesota Vikings in recent years. However, his release by the Vikings in June 2023 and subsequent unsigned status into August highlight the shifting value of running backs in the NFL. Despite his consistent performance, surpassing 1,000 rushing yards in each of the past four seasons, and his utility as a pass-catcher, Cook faces the challenge of being a 28-year-old running back in a league that often prioritizes younger, less injury-prone options. Nonetheless, Cook remains a potent force on the field when healthy, known for his explosive bursts in open field situations. While his long-term future remains uncertain, there’s no denying that in a single season, Cook can still perform at an elite level and compete with some of the best running backs in the league if he finds the right opportunity and situation in 2023.

10. Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys)

Tony Pollard, representing the Dallas Cowboys, has emerged as one of the most underrated storylines of the 2023 NFL season. While sharing the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard has already earned a Pro Bowl nod, showcasing his dynamic playmaking abilities. With Elliott’s departure from the team, Pollard now has the opportunity to step into a larger role. Notably, Pollard’s ability to provide explosiveness with an increased workload has the potential to elevate his status in the NFL running back hierarchy. His impressive 5.9 yards per touch in the 2022 season was the highest among elite running backs, despite starting only four games. Pollard’s unique ability to contribute both as a runner and a receiver makes him a valuable asset in the Cowboys’ offensive scheme, and his performance in 2023 could position him for a significant payday in an era where running backs’ value is being reevaluated by teams. His consistent production and big-play potential make him a player to watch as he seeks to make a mark among the NFL’s best running backs in the upcoming season.

How Do the NFL Running Backs Compare in Terms of Rushing Yards?

Comparing NFL running backs in terms of rushing yards is a critical way to assess their performance and effectiveness during a particular season. Rushing yards are a fundamental statistic that quantifies a running back’s ability to advance the ball on the ground, which is a key component of an offense’s success. Here’s an elaborate explanation of how NFL running backs compare in terms of rushing yards:

  1. Total Rushing Yards: The most straightforward way to compare running backs is by looking at their total rushing yards over a season. This statistic indicates how many yards a running back has gained while carrying the football. The running back with the highest total rushing yards is often considered one of the most productive in the league.

  2. Yards Per Carry (YPC): While total rushing yards are important, it’s also essential to consider the average yards gained per carry. A high YPC suggests that a running back is consistently gaining significant yardage every time they touch the ball. Running backs with a high YPC are often seen as more efficient and explosive.

  3. Rushing Attempts: It’s important to look at the number of rushing attempts a running back has had in addition to their total yards. A running back who accumulates a lot of yards on a high number of carries may be considered a workhorse back, while one with fewer carries but still high yardage could be seen as more explosive.

  4. Consistency: Consistency is key in the NFL. Some running backs may have a few standout games with high rushing yard totals, but consistency throughout the season is crucial. A running back who consistently gains yards in every game is highly valuable to their team.

  5. Big Plays: Another aspect to consider is the number of big plays a running back makes. These are runs of 20 yards or more. A running back who can break off long runs on a regular basis can significantly impact a game and provide a big boost to their team’s offense.

  6. Role and Scheme: It’s important to consider a running back’s role within their team’s offensive scheme. Some teams may rely heavily on their running backs, while others have a more pass-oriented offense. A running back’s rushing yards should be evaluated in the context of their team’s strategy.

  7. Comparisons to Peers: To assess how a running back ranks among their peers, it’s common to compare their rushing yards to other top running backs in the league. This helps gauge where they stand in terms of productivity.

  8. Impact on Team: Finally, it’s essential to consider how a running back’s rushing yards contribute to their team’s success. If a running back’s production directly correlates with their team’s wins, it can be a strong indicator of their value.

Comparing NFL running backs in terms of rushing yards involves a comprehensive analysis of various statistics and factors, including total yards, yards per carry, consistency, big plays, role within the team, and impact on team success. This multifaceted approach provides a more nuanced understanding of a running back’s performance and contribution to their team’s offense.

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