One of the most important and well-known positions in American football is probably the running back. Right after the quarterback, it’s the position you would hear the most about. So, in honor of the upcoming football season, here’s a list of the top 30 running backs across each of the 32 NFL teams, ranked from worst to best.
30. Myles Gaskin
Gaskin’s proven himself to be a versatile running back and quite the asset to the Miami Dolphins. In 2020, he managed to get 142 carries, rush for 584 yards, get 388 receiving yards, and score five touchdowns.
29. Raheem Mostert
Playing on four different teams before ending up with the 49ers, Mostert’s sheer speed has truly helped with head coach Kyle Shanahan’s blocking zone strategy. Unfortunately, Mostert lacks the same durability as many of his contemporaries. In addition, it appears he’ll be ceding some work to Jeff Wilson Jr. and Trey Sermon this season. In 2020, he managed to get 104 carries, rush for 521 yards, get 146 receiving yards, and score three touchdowns.
28. Chase Edmonds
Despite still being somewhat of a rookie, Edmonds quickly became the favored receiver for quarterback Kliff Kingsbury in the Cardinals. His overall versatility on the field helps him complement Kyler Murray. The only bad sign would be if he is unable to maintain his durability this upcoming season. In 2020, he managed to get 97 carries, 448 rushing yards, 402 receiving yards, and score five touchdowns.
27. Travis Etienne
A surprise first-round draft pick, Jacksonville viewed him as being just as important to their offense as he was at his old college team. In 2020, he managed to get 168 carries, 914 rushing yards, 305 receiving yards, and score 16 touchdowns.
26. Javonte Williams
Williams has more power than raw speed, but that certainly doesn’t prevent him from being an adequate receiver. His receiving skills are still improving, but they aren’t currently bad by any stretch of the imagination. In 2020, he managed to get 157 carries, 1,140 rushing yards, 305 receiving yards, and score 22 touchdowns.
25. Kenyan Drake
Drake has bounced around from Miami, to Arizona, and now Las Vegas, 3 different teams in only 6 seasons. However, in that time, his versatility as a running back has truly gotten the chance to shine. This versatility is what’s he’s really good at. In 2020, Drake managed to get 239 carries, 955 rushing yards, 137 receiving yards, and score 10 touchdowns.
24. Melvin Gordon
Gordon almost seemed to be slowing down while with the Chargers, but has since been rejuvenated since moving to Denver. While sharing time with the other receivers in the Broncos, Gordon still has his place as a passing receiver and blocker. In 2020, Gordon managed to get 215 carries, 986 rushing yards, 158 receiving yards, and score 10 touchdowns.
23. Ronald Jones II
While Leonard Fournette is the Buccaneers’ headliner, Jones was the one revving up the team’s running game for Tom Brady. He ran with aggression and explosive power, rising to meet the expectations of Bruce Adrian. In 2020, Jones got 192 carries, 978 rushing yards, 165 receiving yards, and scored 8 touchdowns.
22. D’Andre Swift
Swift previously needed to simply wait for his time to shine. And with new offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn on the Lions’ side, he’s managed to do just that. The Lions will be leaning more on him in the future to support Jared Goff. In 2020, he got 114 carries, 541 rushing yards, 357 receiving yards, and scored 10 touchdowns.
21. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Edward-Helaire had previously fell short of expectations, not getting much game time and having a late-season ankle injury. However, the Chiefs have come to trust him more to maximize his receiving strengths to help Patrick Mahones. In 2020, he got 181 carries, 803 rushing yards, 297 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns.
20. James Robinson
After a historic season as an undrafted rookie, Robinson is still an important piece in Jacksonville’s offense. Even with their new rookie and running back in Travis Etienne, Robinson can still take pressure off from him. In 2020, he managed to get 240 carries, 1,070 rushing yards, 344 rushing yards, and 10 touchdowns.
19. Joe Mixon
Mixon didn’t have many breaks last season. He also got foot surgery, adding to his ankle and knee injury he had received during his four-year career. While the Bengals have been falling to pieces, Mixon has the well-rounded talent to them back together again. In 2020, he managed to get 119 carries, 428 rushing yards, 138 receiving yards, and score four touchdowns.
18. Miles Sanders
Sanders’ production potential really didn’t match his usage from last season. He was rather underutilized. Hopefully, this season the Eagles will put Sanders to better use in his receiving role. In 2020, he managed to get 164 carries, 867 rushing yards, 197 receiving yards, and 6 touchdowns.
17. J.K. Dobbins
While initially just a luxury, second-round draft pick, Dobbins has proven himself to be an invaluable asset to the Ravens’ offense. Dobbins’ rushing style also plays off well with Lamar Jackson’s athleticism. In 2020, he managed to get 134 carries, 805 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards, and 9 touchdowns.
16. Kareem Hunt
Hunt was initially just the receiving complement to Chubb after Stefanski’s arrival last season, but he’s since proven himself since Chubb had to miss game time. He has a good blend of quickness, power, and patience to go along with his receiving skills. In 2020, he managed to get 198 carries, 841 rushing yards, 304 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns.
15. Chris Carson
There is only one thing that Chris Carson lacks as a receiver, and that is reliable availability. In his three seasons as a pro player, Carson has yet to be able to play in every game in a single season. But when he’s on the field, he compliments the Seahawks’ run-heavy plays very well. In 2020, he managed to get 141 carries, 681 rushing yards, 287 receiving yards, and score 9 touchdowns.
14. Ezekiel Elliot
It would seem as though the only reason Elliot’s this position on the list is because of how much the players above have going for them. Even after fading somewhat last season, Elliot’s still a consistent player, and will hopefully get back into form with Dak Prescott back on the field. In 2020, Elliot managed to get 244 carries, 979 rushing yards, 388 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns.
13. Najee Harris
This rookie’s placement in the ranking might actually be a little conservative. He’s a durable workhorse, with strong legs that help him both avoid getting knocked down and weaving through the opposing team’s defense. He’ll compliment Roethlisberger very well. In 2020, while still at Alabama, he managed to get 251 carries, 1,466 rushing yards, 425 receiving yards, and score 30 touchdowns.
12. Antonio Gibson
Gibson has the chance to crack the top 10 as far as running backs go in the near future with everything he’s got going for him. He’ll be getting a more featured role at Washington, being used in a similar manner as McCaffrey at Carolina. He’s got a special combination of power running and dynamic receiving. In 2020, he managed to get 170 carries, 790 rushing yards, 247 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns.
11. David Montgomery
He may have been a little overhyped in his first season, but in his second year with the bears, David Montgomery has truly come into his own. He practically carried his team on his back during the NFC playoffs. In 2020, he managed to get 247 carries, 1,070 rushing yards, 438 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns.
10. Josh Jacobs
Jacobs is actually underutilized with the Raiders. The team’s been reluctant to use his capabilities as an all-around game and has gotten limited line support while squeezing out every yard he can. He’s also been underutilized as a receiver, to the point that they needed to get a new receiver. Regardless, he’s still a solid and skilled player. In 2020, he managed to get 273 carries, 1,065 rushing yards, 238 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns.
9. Jonathan Taylor
Taylor can do a little bit of everything with his swiftness and power. The Colts were initially a little hesitant to trust him, but has since proven his worth to the team. He’s key to his team, taking the pressure off of the quarterback. In 2020, he managed to get 232 carries, 1,169 rushing yards, 299 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns.
8. Austin Ekeler
Last season, Ekeler only managed to play 10 games due to a hamstring injury. However, during that time he managed to remain an efficient and trustworthy receiver. He’s got an all-around base that will only improve as the season continues. In 2020, he managed to get 116 carries, 530 rushing yards, 403 receiving yards, and 3 touchdowns.
7. Saquon Barkley
Barkley still has the potential he initially showed as a workhorse rookie, but he must prove he’s durable enough to carry the load. He was completely wiped out last season due to a torn ACL while playing against the Bears. But now he’s healed, and hopefully he’ll display the same level of skill he did in the past. In 2019, he managed to get 217 carries, 1,003 rushing yards, 438 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns.
6. Nick Chubb
Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the are the major players for Stefanski’s more balanced offense this season. Chubb has a good combination of burst and power and can get the tough extra yards inside, as well as reeling off long runs. If he hadn’t missed four games due to a knee sprang last season, he would’ve been an absolute monster. In 2020, he managed to get 190 carries, 1,067 rushing yards, 150 receiving yards, and 12 touchdowns.
5. Aaron Jones
Jones is a real chunk-running workhorse. Whether running inside or outside, he plays a key target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His multiple gears and smoothness while running greatly assists in the passing game. In 2020, Jones manages to get 201 carries, 1,104 rushing yards, 355 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns.
4. Alvin Kamara
Kamara is the running back that several other running backs on this list have been compared to. His smoothness and speed is truly an asset to the Saints, making him an incredibly competent player. When catching passes or shooting out of the backfield, it looks more like he’s gliding rather than running. In 2020, he managed to get 187 carries, 932 rushing yards, 756 receiving yards, and 21 touchdowns.
3. Derrick Henry
In terms of pure running strength, as far as running backs go, Henry’s No. 1. He has won two straight rushing titles for highest volume in the league. He’s really a dominant, big-framed back. In 2020, he managed to get 378 carries, 2,027 rushing yards, 114 receiving yards, and 17 touchdowns.
2. Dalvin Cook
Cook has thrived as a runner in the Vikings’ premier zone blocking scheme. When not pounding between tackles and finishing drives, he’s a top notch receiver, and has fought off some early injuries to become a durable workhorse. He really ties together Minnesota’s offense. In 2020, he managed to get 312 carries, 1,557 rushing yards, 361 receiving yards, and score 17 touchdowns.
1. Christian McCaffrey
Going into his fifth season, McCaffrey is still reputed as one of the best running backs in the NFL right now. While he only managed to play three games last season due to a series of injuries, everyone still has high hopes for him this upcoming season. In 2019, he managed to get 287 carries, 1,387 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards, and score 19 touchdowns.