There will be a lot of competition between the best running backs in the NFL in 2023.
Among all the football positions, the running back may not be as highly valued as in the past. But the best running backs in the NFL are as good as ever. In fact, the best riders in 2023 are sure to have a big impact on the season.
Ranking of the best runners 2023
Who are the best running backs in the NFL right now? Well, with most teams trying to consistently tag at least two running backs, there are tons of candidates.
We decided to generate a list of the top 20 running backs in the NFL before next season. Here’s our ranking of the best running backs in the NFL in 2023.
No one expected much from Dameon Pierce last year, but he proved people wrong as a rookie. While he didn’t have 1,000 yards and only had three rushing touchdowns, keep in mind that he was playing on a terrible team.
Obviously, Pierce still has a lot to prove after just one season in the league, but the Texans seem confident they’ve found their starting running back for the foreseeable future.
19. Breece Lounge
A season-ending injury limited Breece Hall to just seven games in his rookie season. But he averaged 5.8 yards per carry in those seven games, giving the Jets hope they’ve found a goaltender in their backfield.
Obviously, he has a lot to prove, but the first impression he made last year makes us think Hall may be one of the best running backs in the NFL this year.
18. Javonte Williams
A promising rookie season for Javonte Williams was followed by a lost season in 2022 thanks to a season-ending knee injury in Week 4.
The silver lining is that the injury was early enough in the season for Williams to be fully recovered by the start of the 2023 campaign. Williams is still projected to be the starter for Denver and should have plenty of opportunities to fulfill his promise for a offense that desperately needs a spark.
17. Joe Mixon
It’s certainly been an up-and-down career for Joe Mixon. Last year was a bad season for him with Mixon gaining just 814 rushing yards on 3.9 yards per carry. But there’s no question he’s still the leader in Cincinnati and he should get plenty of touchdown opportunities.
The Bengals know what he can do and so does the rest of the league, so it’s too early to write Mixon off heading into 2023.
16. Najee Harris
After making the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2021, Najee Harris didn’t match that production in 2022. However, he still had over 1,000 rushing yards and did some damage as a pass catcher.
The only concern is that he’s averaging less than four yards per carry in his career. But Harris is still a tough running back who will get the yardage from him and contribute in multiple ways, making him a valuable asset in Pittsburgh’s offense.
15. Kenneth Walker
Being a unanimous All-American in 2021 was no fluke for Kenneth Walker, who had a brilliant rookie season for the Seahawks last year.
He rushed for over 1,000 yards in 15 games and played a key role in getting Seattle to the playoffs. Walker has a chance to do even more damage this season as he will start the season as the Seahawks’ starter.
14. Travis Etienne
Even though he’s only played one season in the NFL, it sounds like Travis Etienne could be someone to watch closely for years to come. He rushed for more than 1,100 yards and averaged more than five yards per carry for the upstart Jaguars last season after missing his entire rookie year with injury.
Etienne also believes that he will do more in the passing game than catch 31 passes like he did in 2022, so we have yet to see the best of him.
13. Rhamondre Stevenson
With the way the Patriots rotate running backs, it’s hard for anyone to reach 1,000 yards in a season. But Rhamondre Stevenson did just that last season while also catching 69 passes from the backfield.
Those are no small feats for a guy with only two years of experience under his belt. If he can take another step forward in 2023, Stevenson could go from underrated to top 10.
12. Miles Sanders
Fresh off his first Pro Bowl selection and a trip to the Super Bowl, Miles Sanders embarks on a new part of his career with the Panthers. Last year, he showed what he is capable of as a running back, racking up more than 1,200 rushing yards.
Oddly enough, he didn’t do much as a pass catcher last season. But with a rookie quarterback in Carolina, that should change, allowing Sanders to show just how versatile and productive he can be.
11. Dalvin the Cook
Despite being released by the Vikings, Dalvin Cook will almost certainly have a job at the start of the season. Also, despite turning 28 before the season, Cook has a lot left in the tank.
He may not be an elite rusher anymore, but he’s still rushed for over 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. Cook is also averaging 40-plus receptions over those four seasons. To be fair, injuries are still a question for him. However, when he’s healthy, Cook is always productive, making him more reliable than most running backs in the NFL.
For the first time in his career, Tony Pollard doesn’t have to worry about sharing the backfield with Ezekiel Elliott. Coming off his first Pro Bowl selection, Pollard is the main man in Dallas.
However, you should be more than up for the challenge. Pollard has averaged more than five yards per carry in back-to-back seasons and gained more than 1,000 rushing yards last year despite getting fewer than 200 carries. The volume of him should increase significantly this season, which would cause the production of Pollard to increase dramatically as well.
For the first time in his career, Alvin Kamara missed out on making the Pro Bowl in 2022. Interestingly, his numbers weren’t that different from previous seasons.
He certainly hasn’t found the end zone enough the past two seasons. But Kamara remains a productive pass catcher from the backfield and a viable running back. He figures to rack up at least 1,200 all-purpose yards once again, so he’s not someone to be written off heading into 2023.
8. Aaron Jones
It will be a brave new world for Aaron Jones and the Packers without Aaron Rodgers. But Jones is coming off one of the best seasons of his career.
Although he’s likely to share carries with AJ Dillon, Jones shouldn’t have a problem racking up yards after racking up more than 1,000 rushing yards in three of the past four years. He also has had 50+ receptions in consecutive years and 40+ receptions in four consecutive seasons. Jones is truly a do-it-all running back, making him an invaluable part of Green Bay’s offense this season.
Despite not getting the contract extension he wants, Austin Ekeler is still with the Chargers and looking to make a statement in 2023. As a small running back, he won’t get as many carries as other running backs.
But he’s also taken tough carries to rush for 900-plus yards in back-to-back seasons. Ekeler also racked up over 100 receptions and 700 receiving yards in 2022. He has become the top running back in the NFL in terms of catching the ball and has 38 total touchdowns over the past two seasons. Not many runners can claim to have done the same.
A year ago, Josh Jacobs had something to prove after the Raiders declined his fifth-year option. All he did was lead the league in rushing with 1,600-plus yards, forcing Las Vegas to use the franchise tag on him.
Keep in mind that Jacobs also rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in the league. He’s also caught more than 50 passes in consecutive years, so he’s starting to become a versatile back. Even if he doesn’t replicate his production from last year, Jacobs still belongs in the second tier of running backs going into 2023.
5. Jonathan Taylor
In the first three years of his career, we’ve already seen two different versions of Jonathan Taylor. There was the version that led the league in rushing with 1,800-plus yards in 2021 and the version that couldn’t do anything in 2022 when he was limited to 861 rushing yards in 11 games. But with injuries and a bad team around him last season, it’s easy to forgive a mediocre season from Taylor.
Surely, he’s still the same guy he was in 2021 and he’s only 24 years old. The caveat is that the Colts have some uncertainty at quarterback. But that should mean more touches and another productive season for Taylor.
A year ago, Saquon Barkley thought free agency was ahead of him, and he responded with a Pro Bowl campaign that saw him rush for more than 1,300 yards and rack up more than 300 receiving yards.
Of course, after he helped lead the Giants to the playoffs, they used the franchise tag on him. In a way, staying in a familiar environment with the same offensive system should help Barkley have another breakout season. He knows he’ll take a lot of touches and serve as a safety net for Daniel Jones. Barkley also knows that he will be a free agent next year, which gives him a lot of motivation to have a great season in 2023.
Injuries have gotten the better of him in recent years, but Christian McCaffrey was able to stay healthy in 2022. If he can stay healthy again this year, he’ll surely be among the top running backs in 2023. His numbers weren’t quite at the same level they’ve been in the past, though going to a new team after a mid-season trade slowed him down a bit.
By season’s end, he was back on track, topping 100 rushing yards in three of San Francisco’s last five regular season games and then averaging 5.9 yards per carry in three playoff games. McCaffrey looks comfortable with the 49ers and should have a good supporting cast around him, so expect his form from December and January last season to hold up this season.
At 27 years old, Nick Chubb could be at the peak of his career. He is coming off a career-high last season, rushing for over 1,500 yards. But what separates Chubb from other running backs is the fact that he has averaged more than five yards per carry every season since he entered the league.
In his career, he averages more than five yards per carry and more than 1,200 yards per season. Chubb has also proven to be incredibly durable thus far with no reason to believe that will change. The Browns will be leaning on him a lot this season, and Chubb is ready to deliver once again.
He may not be the youngest or most complete running back in the NFL, but Derrick Henry is still the best the league has to offer. Henry has reached a point where he could end up being considered one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.
He finished second in the league in carries last season and has led the NFL in carries three times in the past four seasons. He is a true workhorse, which has become rare in today’s game. Keep in mind that Henry has topped 1,500 yards three times in the last four years. If he can stay healthy, he’s a sure bet he’ll be able to hit that plateau once again. There just aren’t many running backs in the league you can say that about.