Welcome back. It might be way too early for NFL positional rankings, but let’s continue the run of 2023 rankings with the top 10 NFL running backs right now.
Previous Lists: Quarterbacks
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 10 – Jonathan Taylor
The problem here is that the running backs are a tight bunch. Taylor only had one season at the top, and he largely struggled this season. There are other factors (blocking, quarterback play, and others), but Taylor just did not have the same big-play ability and game-breaking talent. He’s in a tier called “could be a top-five back at any moment,” but he wasn’t in 2022.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 9 – Alvin Kamara
Kamara has a more established track record of being a great back. He also had his issues in 2022. For his career, Kamara had been a good runner and generational receiver. In 2022, he was a below-average runner and just a good receiver. After years of having a special skill set, Kamara was just average.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 8 – Aaron Jones
It’s hard to rank Jones because he splits time in the backfield with AJ Dillon. They are different stylistically, but it is an indictment on Jones to some degree that his workload is eaten into at times. Jones is an underrated “pure runner,” and he rarely gets the credit he deserves for being one of the most elusive backs in the league.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 7 – Dalvin Cook
Outside of the long touchdown run in Buffalo, it felt like Cook had a quiet season. He was still one of the NFC’s top backs with another Pro Bowl nod and 1,468 scrimmage yards, but he felt like he was more so going through the motions. He only averaged 69.0 rushing yards per game; he just played all 17 games.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 6 – Austin Ekeler
At this point, rankings can only be wrong. Ekeler had another crazy season, leading the league in touchdowns. He’s maybe not as talented of a runner as the next few guys on the list, but he is in that tier of players because of his exceptional receiving chops. He did post the worst yards per reception of his career, though. He also did not have a catch over 25 yards – he had 36 first downs on 107 catches.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 5 – Derrick Henry
Henry is tough to rank because he is sometimes the most dominant running back in the league (perhaps ever) and other times he’s been a total non-factor. In games with a bad game script, Henry is invisible. He also had some fumbling issues in 2022, and he perhaps lost a step after his 2021 foot injury. The Titans are forced to give Henry dozens of carries. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t work.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 4 – Josh Jacobs
Jacobs lands in the same part of the list where Taylor was last year. He was the best running back in the NFL, but this is his only season at that level. Jacobs timed his “breakout” perfectly, and he will likely get paid like a top back in free agency. He’s a productive do-it-all back, but he has one season of being elite, so he can’t justifiably be ahead of the top three.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 3 – Saquon Barkley
Barkley had an excellent return to form. He’s dynamic as a runner and receiver, and he even spotlighted as a wildcat quarterback from time to time. Barkley’s issue – the same as it’s been for his career – is consistency. In years past, the lack of consistency has come from injuries, but Barkley is a player defined by his runs (quite literally). He is a hot-hand shooter. There will be games he’s breaking off chunk runs every drive, but he also has games he averages around 1.0 yards per carry.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 2 – Nick Chubb
Chubb is the best of Henry and Barkley. He has Barkley’s explosiveness mixed with Henry’s ability to break tackles. He has Barkley’s highs and Henry’s generational ability to get better late in games. Chubb has been healthy, and he is not as prone to being as invisible as Barkley and Henry can be. Chubb is the best “pure runner” in the league – even if that concept is strange to explain.
Top 10 NFL Running Backs: No. 1 – Christian McCaffrey
He’s back. McCaffrey can do every running back task at a high level. He’s a generational receiver, but his running skills – all facets – are underrated. If he was removed from the field on passing downs, he’d squarely be a top-10 runner (unlike Kamara and Ekeler). He is a consistent game influencer. Other running backs impose threats, but McCaffrey is like a knight in chess, always forking pieces and hopping out of danger.
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Follow us on Twitter at @GridironHeroics for more great content. We appreciate you taking time to read our articles. To interact more with our community and keep up to date on the latest in Football news, JOIN OUR FREE FACEBOOK GROUP by CLICKING HERE