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Don't call it a comeback, but the running back position underwent a resurgence in the 2024 NFL offseason.

Just a year ago in the 2023 offseason, Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley and Tony Pollard all failed to come to terms with their respective teams on long-term extensions with each settling for the franchise tag, and there had only been one running back to win the league's NFL Offensive Player of the Year award in the last five seasons: Derrick Henry in 2020.  

This year, Jacobs, Barkley and Pollard all found multi-year contracts in free agency, as did many others at the position, and San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey took home OPOY honors after leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,459) and scrimmage yards (2,023) while co-leading the league in touchdowns (21) along with Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl running back Raheem Mostert. San Francisco naturally rewarded CMC with a two-year, $38 million extension that runs his previously running back-leading average-per-year salary up $3 million, from $16 million APY to $19 million APY. 

Notable running backs to sign multi-year contracts this offseason

  • Christian McCaffrey re-signed on a two-year, $38 million extension with 49ers
  • Derrick Henry signed a two-year, $16 million contract with Ravens
  • Josh Jacobs signed a four-year, $48 million contract with Packers
  • Saquon Barkley signed a three-year, $37.75 million contract with Eagles
  • Rhamondre Stevenson signed a four-year, $36 million extension with Patriots
  • Austin Ekeler signed a four-year, $24.5 million contract with Commanders
  • D'Andre Swift signed a three-year, $24 million contract with Bears
  • Tony Pollard signed a three-year, $21.75 million contract with Titans
  • Joe Mixon signed a two-year, $19.75 million extension with Texans

The running back position may never hold as large of an importance as it once did in an NFL now geared toward the passing game, but the 2023 season proved that when utilized correctly with the right pieces around them, a postseason run is possible. The 49ers reached overtime of the Super Bowl with the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft at quarterback (Brock Purdy, the first Mr. Irrelevant to complete a pass, start a game, or make a Pro Bowl) in large part to McCaffrey's all-around contributions. 

These rankings take both past production and future projections into account. There will not be any rookies found on this list because they have yet to be seen playing the position at football's highest level. A year ago, comments sections thought this same list, back when it was just the top 10, was crazy to have McCaffrey over now-Baltimore Ravens running back Derrick Henry or Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb

Having anyone over CMC this year would be lunacy, and we felt that way last year. With that in mind, here is our ranking of the 20 best running backs in football entering the 2024 season. (To see last year's 2023 running back rankings, click here.)

Honorable Mentions: Alvin Kamara (Saints), James Cook (Bills), David Montgomery (Lions), Najee Harris (Steelers), Rhamondre Stevenson (Patriots), Rachaad White (Buccaneers)

20. Jaylen Warren, Steelers

Jaylen Warren ranked as the NFL's most elusive running back last season with a 35.6% tackles avoided rate, the best among 49 running backs with at least 100 carries in 2023. Warren's 76 tackles avoided ranked as tied for the third most in the NFL last season with Kenneth Walker III

Jaylen Warren
PIT • RB • #30
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The formerly undrafted running back totaled career highs across the board last season, thanks to a higher workload in Year 2: 784 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on 149 carries. Warren's 5.3 yards per carry in 2023 ranked as the third most in the NFL among the 49 running backs with at least 100 carries last season. Backfield mate Najee Harris' 4.1 yards per carry ranked 27th out of those 49 in 2023, so perhaps Warren will be given a larger volume of responsibility from new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith in 2024. 

19. Isiah Pacheco, Chiefs

Isiah Pacheco runs like the Tasmanian Devil with his feet and body flying all different directions as he advances up field. His 1.52 yards before contact per rush, which ranked as the eighth most in the NFL among 35 running backs with at least 150 carries in 2023, indicate as much with defenses struggling to anticipate which direction he is initially headed. 

Isiah Pacheco
KC • RB • #10
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He improved his overall rushing numbers from his rookie year, rushing for 935 yards and seven touchdowns on 205 carries (4.6 yards per carry), but his efficiency dipped slightly from the 4.9 yards per carry average in 2022 when he had 830 yards and five touchdowns on 170 carries. Pacheco is the first running back in NFL history to start and win the Super Bowl in each of his first two NFL seasons, and he will certainly factor into Kansas City's efforts for a three-peat in a similar fashion in 2024. 

18. D'Andre Swift, Bears

In his first and only season behind the Philadelphia Eagles' vaunted offensive line (76.5 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade, third best in the NFL in 2023), Swift broke the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his four-year career with 1,049 rushing yards, the fifth most in the NFL last season. 

D'Andre Swift
CHI • RB • #4
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His 5.3 career yards per touch average ranks as the seventh most in the NFL since he was drafted in the second round by the Lions in 2020, and perhaps Swift factors as more of a receiver in Chicago than he did in Philly, where he totaled 214 receiving yards on 39 catches. 

17. De'Von Achane, Dolphins

A knee injury hampered De'Von Achane's rookie year, causing him to play in only 11 games, but he was electric when he was on the field.

Achane's explosive run rate, the percentage of his carries gaining 12 or more yards, of 15.5% led the entire NFL, and was just over 2.5% higher than 2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey's second-place figure of 12.9%. The 2.6% gap between Achane and McCaffrey is around the same gap between McCaffrey and Achane's backfield mate Raheem Mostert, whose 10.5% rate was the seventh most in the NFL. Naturally, Achane's 7.8 yards per carry led the NFL among the 53 players with over 100 carries in 2023. 

De'Von Achane
MIA • RB • #28
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In the Dolphins' 70-20 demolition of the Denver Broncos in Week 3 last season, Achane ran for a Dolphins single-game, rookie rushing yards record (203) on only 18 carries. That's an eye-popping 11.3 yards per carry. He found the end zone four times that day, twice on the ground and twice through the air as a receiver. When the 2023 season wrapped up in January, Achane's 203 rushing yards versus the Denver Broncos still ranked as the most in a single game for the entire year. 

Achane is one of only five players in the 2020s to run for 200 or more yards in a game, joining Derrick Henry (four times), Dalvin Cook (twice), Josh Jacobs (229 in a 40-34 overtime win at the Seahawks in Week 12 of the 2022 season) and Jonathan Taylor (253 in a 28-14 Week 17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 17 of the 2020 season). If Achane can stay healthy, he and his devastating speed will vault up this list in the blink of an eye. 

16. James Conner, Cardinals

James Conner has found the end zone like a top-five running back since the 2020s began; his 41 touchdowns are tied for the fifth most in the NFL, and he's coming off the best season of his seven-year career in terms of rushing yards in 2023, racking up his first 1,000-yard season on the ground with 1,040, the sixth most in the NFL.

James Conner
ARI • RB • #6
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Conner's 28.8% tackles avoided rate ranked as the second best in the entire NFL in 2023 among the 53 players with at least 100 carries, and his five yards per carry average in 2023 ranked as the fifth most among running backs last season. He is finding his best performance entering his late twenties, and Conner's production could increase in 2024 with a more threatening passing game, thanks to a healthier Kyler Murray plus the addition of wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., the fourth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

15. Tony Pollard, Titans

Tony Pollard totaled consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, but the 2023 season was understandably a grind. Pollard's 1,005 rushing yards last season came on 252 carries -- a career high -- for a 4.0 yards per carry average. That was a departure from 2023 in which his 5.2 yards per carry on 193 carries resulted in a career-high 1,007 rushing yards. 

Tony Pollard
TEN • RB • #20
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The difference can be explained by the leg fracture he suffered in the 2022 NFC divisional round game at the San Francisco 49ers in January of 2023. For Pollard's first four seasons from 2019-2022, he averaged 5.7 yards per touch from scrimmage, the fourth best in the NFL among 32 players with at least 500 touches in that span. His yards per touch figure in 2023 dipped down to 4.3. Pollard should perform better as Derrick Henry's successor with the Tennessee Titans, another year removed from the injury. 

14. Kyren WIlliams, Rams

Kyren Williams is the biggest riser of any running back from the 2023 season. The 2022 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame totaled 139 rushing yards on 35 carries while playing in only 10 games without a start as a rookie. 

Kyren Williams
LAR • RB • #23
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In 2023, he erupted for 1,144 rushing yards (third most in the NFL) and 12 rushing touchdowns (tied for the fifth most in the NFL) despite 228 carries while only playing in 12 games because an ankle injury caused him to miss Weeks 7-11 last season. Naturally, Williams led the NFL in rushing yards per game with a 95.3 average, and he is the first player to finish in the top three in rushing yards despite missing at least four games since Bull Karcis did so for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1937. 

Should Williams avoid injury in 2024 at age 24 (his 24th birthday is Aug. 26), he could be a top-10 running back in no time at all. 

13. Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks

Kenneth Walker III suffered a decline of half a yard in his yards per carry average from 2022 (4.6) to 2023 (4.1). That translated to his rushing yards total dropping by exactly 100 yards (1,050 in 2022 to 905 in 2023) despite Walker having nine fewer carries in 2023 (219) than 2022 (228). 

Kenneth Walker III
SEA • RB • #9
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Still 23 -- he'll turn 24 on Oct. 20 -- Walker offers plenty of promise. His 76 tackles avoided tied for the third most in the NFL. He'll need to come a little more consistent on down-to-down basis, though. Walker's explosive run rate of 8.7% ranked 11th in the NFL while his stuff rate, percentage of plays with zero or negative rushing yards, of 21.5%, was the ninth highest in the NFL among 49 running back with at least 100 carries in 2023. 

If Walker becomes more consistent, his potential is sky high. 

12. Raheem Mostert, Dolphins

Raheem Mostert is a late bloomer, earning his first career Pro Bowl selection at age 31 in 2023, but he certainly deserved the honor. He led the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns and co-led the league in touchdowns from scrimmage (21) with 2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey.

Raheem Mostert
MIA • RB • #31
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Mostert also ran for over 1,000 yards (1,012) on 209 carries for a stellar 4.6 yards per carry average, the sixth best in the NFL among running backs last season, and he also registered a tackle avoided rate of 25.8%, the third best in the entire league, regardless of position. It's unclear if Mostert can maintain this play at this high of a level for much longer as he ages into his thirties, but what he did in 2023 cannot be ignored. 

11. Travis Etienne, Jaguars

Travis Etienne put together a second 1,000-yard rushing season (1,008) and more than doubled his rushing touchdown figure his rookie season, five in 2022 to 11 in 2023. His 89 tackles avoided last season led the entire NFL, and his 1,484 scrimmage yards were the fifth most in the league among running backs.

The problem here is his efficiency plummeted in 2023 with his yards per carry declining from 5.1 as a rookie (1,125 rushing yards on 220 carries) to 3.8 last season (1,008 rushing yards on 267 carries). Not all of that is his fault, to be fair. Jacksonville was assessed a 40.6 run-blocking grade by Pro Football Focus, the second worst in the entire NFL last season ahead of only the Los Angeles Chargers and their 40.1 PFF run-blocking grade. The poor blocking could also contribute to the reason why Etienne had to avoid as many tackles as he did, and why his stuff rate of 25.5% was the second highest in the NFL among 49 running backs with at last 100 carries, trailing only Browns running back Jerome Ford's 27.5% figure. 

Travis Etienne
JAC • RB • #1
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The Jaguars did sign center Mitch Morse away from the Buffalo Bills on a two-year, $10.5 million deal, and they re-signed guard Ezra Cleveland to a three-year, $24 million contract. Internal development for right tackle Anton Harrison, the team's first-round pick in 2023, and Walker Little, a second-round pick in 2021, could pay dividends. A healthier Trevor Lawrence could also boost the threat of the run game. Plenty of reason to think Etienne can have a more efficient season at age 25 in 2024. 

10. Aaron Jones, Vikings

The Green Bay Packers asked Aaron Jones to take a pay cut in consecutive offseasons, which bothered Jones, and since Green Bay had just signed Josh Jacobs around the time they asked Jones to take said cut, they granted his wish for free agency and released him.

Jones took a page out of Packers Hall of Famer Brett Favre's spite playbook and signed a one-year, $7 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings. Both sides of the conflict have logic to their arguments. Jones finished the 2023 season with a franchise-record five consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing, including the postseason, marking the longest-such streak of games in Green Bay history. 

Aaron Jones
MIN • RB • #33
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Among the 51 running backs with 400 carries since 2019, the year Matt LaFleur became the Packers head coach, Jones' 4.9 yards per carry ranks as the fourth best in the entire NFL. The problem is he turns 30 in December, and he played a career-low 11 games in 2023 because of various lower body injuries. If Jones can remain healthy, he can hold down a top 10 spot on this list. 

9. Josh Jacobs, Packers

Josh Jacobs entered 2023 as the reigning NFL rushing champion after leading the league in in rushing yards (1,653), rushing first downs (93), tackles avoided (103) and Pro Football Focus grade among running backs (91.9) in 2022. 

However, holding out for a long-term deal that never surfaced with the Raiders led him to total 805 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns on 233 carries, a 3.5 yards-per-carry average that was the lowest of his entire career, after playing in only 13 games. 

Josh Jacobs
GB • RB • #8
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The 2024 season should be different after he signed a four-year, $48 million contract with the Green Bay Packers, a team whose quarterback situation (Jordan Love, who threw 32 touchdown passes in 2023, the second most in the NFL) is vastly superior to the Raiders' 2023 situation (a rotation of Jimmy Garoppolo, Brian Hoyer and rookie Aidan O'Connell). Aaron Jones, Jacobs' predecessor, routinely ranked near the top of the league in yards per carry during his Packers career, and since Jacobs just turned 26, he should have plenty left in the tank. 

8. Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions

Jahmyr Gibbs entered the NFL with lofty expectations after the Detroit Lions selected him 12th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft, but he lived up to the hype while sharing a backfield with David Montgomery. 

He became just the eighth rookie in the 21st century to total more than 900 rushing yards (945) and at least 10 rushing touchdowns (10) while averaging at least five yards a carry (5.2, third most in the NFL among running backs in 2023, on 182 carries). The company Gibbs keeps with his rookie year production is among some of the NFL's best when it comes to Pro Bowl running backs.

Rookie running backs with at least 900 rush yards and 10 rush TD, averaging at least five yards per carry (since 2000):

Jahmyr Gibbs
DET • RB • #26
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Gibbs is well on his way to rocketing up this list should he be given slightly more volume in 2024. 

7. Saquon Barkley, Eagles

Saquon Barkley put together a decent season in 2023, totaling 1,242 scrimmage yards (962 rushing) and 10 scrimmage touchdowns (six rushing) on 288 touches (247 carries). However, his efficiency wasn't great, averaging 4.3 yards per touch and 3.9 yards per carry.

Saquon Barkley
PHI • RB • #26
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Barkley put up those numbers in 2023 while running behind Pro Football Focus' third-lowest graded run-blocking team in the New York Giants (41.1 PFF run-blocking grade). He will now play for the team with the NFL's third-highest PFF run-blocking grade in the Philadelphia Eagles (76.5 PFF run-blocking grade) after signing a three year, $37.75 million contract with $26 million guaranteed. 

Playing in an offense with quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receivers A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, tight end Dallas Goedert and the Pro Bowl offensive line up front should allow for Barkley to shine once again. 

6. Breece Hall, Jets

Breece Hall suffered a torn ACL as a rookie, but he bounced back with a stellar 2023 campaign. His 1,585 yards from scrimmage were the fourth most in the entire NFL and the second most among running backs, trailing only 2023 NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey. 

Breece Hall
NYJ • RB • #20
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His elusiveness didn't take a hit as his 79 tackles avoided ranked as the second most in the entire league behind only Jacksonville's Travis Etienne, and Hall finished the 2023 season strong, leading the NFL in scrimmage yards (507) and touches (93) while co-leading the league in touchdowns (four) from Weeks 16-18. Should Hall continue to play at this level and leave memories of the torn ACL in the rearview mirror, he should ascend up this list in short order. 

5. Nick Chubb, Browns

Entering the 2023 season, many were making a case for Nick Chubb to be considered the NFL's best running back, and that 100 percent made sense. He had totaled at least eight rushing touchdowns in every year of his five-year career, and he racked up 1,000-yard rushing seasons in each of the last four years (2019-2022). 

Nick Chubb
CLE • RB • #24
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Chubb and Derrick Henry were the only players in the entire NFL with over 6,000 rushing yards and over 45 rushing touchdowns across his first five NFL seasons (2018-2022). However, Chubb suffered a devastating knee injury in Week 2 of the 2023 season at the Pittsburgh Steelers: a torn left MCL, meniscus tear and a partially torn ACL. He needed two separate surgeries last fall to fix his knee. 

Chubb will turn 29 on Dec. 27, but if he can bounce back from this latest injury setback, there's a chance he can return to being one of football's best running backs. 

4. Jonathan Taylor, Colts

No, Jonathan Taylor didn't come close to his 2021 heights last season, when he led the NFL in rushing yards (1,811), rushing touchdowns (18), yards from scrimmage (2,171) and touchdowns from scrimmage (20). Still, at age 24, he showed he has the potential to get back to playing close to that level.

Jonathan Taylor
IND • RB • #28
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Taylor, who turned 25 back on Jan. 19, ended the 2023 season with a touchdown in each of the Colts' last six games to end the year after playing a career-low 10 games because of an early season contract holdout. He also registered season bests in rushing yards (188) and carries (30) in the regular-season finale against the Houston Texans. Taylor's seven career games with at least 150 rushing yards are tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson for the most in franchise history. 

With a healthier Anthony Richardson and going through Indy's entire offseason program, Taylor should be back among the NFL's best in 2024. 

3. Bijan Robinson, Falcons

Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson, the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, is on the rise and ready to shine. Robinson's 1,463 yards from scrimmage as a rookie ranked as the 10th most in the league and the sixth most among running backs last season. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua and his 1,575 yards from scrimmage was the only rookie who ranked higher (the fifth most in the league). 

Robinson's 71 tackles avoided were the fifth most in football during his rookie season, and he did all of this with a rotation of Desmond Ridder (now a backup on the Arizona Cardinals) and third-stringer Taylor Heinicke as his starting quarterbacks while now-fired head coach Arthur Smith schemed away over 180 carries (186 to be exact) to Tyler Allgeier.

Bijan Robinson
ATL • RB • #7
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Robinson now has four-time Pro Bowler Kirk Cousins, who Atlanta signed to a four-year, $180 million deal ($100 million guaranteed), and the 2023 Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr., the eighth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, in his squad's quarterback room. The Falcons also beefed up their receivers room with the additions of Darnell Mooney (signed a three-year, $39 million contract in free agency) and Rondale Moore (acquired from the Cardinals in a trade that sent Ridder to Arizona). 

However, Robinson's biggest increase in production may come from new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson, who spent the last five seasons (2019-2023) working on Sean McVay's Los Angeles Rams coaching staff. Robinson served as an assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019 when the Rams still had bellcow running back Todd Gurley on the roster, and in 2021 when wide receiver Cooper Kupp won NFL Offensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl Bowl MVP. He was promoted to the team's passing coordinator for his last two seasons in L.A., and in 2023, he coordinated an aerial attack that saw Nacua set the NFL's rookie records for catches (105) and receiving yards (1,486). Robinson comes from a coaching staff that maximized its offensive stars, and constantly schemed up matchups to accentuate those stars' skills. 

That's a coaching approach Robinson lacked in Smith's offense, and one he should benefit in from in Zac Robinson's offense -- no relation -- in 2024. 

2. Derrick Henry, Ravens

Henry, who is a four-time Pro Bowler, ranked inside the top two of the entire NFL in both carries and rushing yards in four of the last five seasons, making him only the 10th player all time to finish inside the the top two in the league in rushing yards in at least four seasons. Henry's 280 carries led the league in 2023 while he ranked second in the NFL in rushing yards (1,167) behind only NFL Offensive Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey.

Yes, he averaged a career-worst 4.2 yards per carry in 2023 as a 29-year-old, but that figure was above average across the NFL (his 4.2 yards per carry ranked 18th among 44 qualified running backs last season.) Henry totaled that production in a Tennessee Titans offense that lacked a scary passing attack with quarterback Ryan Tannehill injured and rookie Will Levis experiencing growing pains -- his 58.4% completion percentage ranked dead last in the NFL in 2023.

Derrick Henry
BAL • RB • #22
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Alongside reigning NFL MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson in the Baltimore Ravens backfield, Henry should have much wider running lanes to work with since the Ravens' registered a Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade of 67.9, the eighth best in the league. That's a considerable upgrade from the Titans' 60.2 PFF run-blocking grade, which ranked 17th in the NFL. King Henry is set up to rule once again in 2024. 

1. Christian McCaffrey, 49ers

As mentioned in the introduction, McCaffrey, the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year, is a consensus choice to enter the 2024 season as the NFL's top running back. 

After his massive 2023 season, he became just the 10th player in NFL history with at least 10,000 career scrimmage yards (10,505) and at least 80 career touchdowns (81) in his first seven seasons in the league. Six of the first seven players in this club are first ballot members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame while Adrian Peterson certainly will be once he becomes eligible for induction in 2027. 

Christian McCaffrey
SF • RB • #23
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Running backs with 10,000 scrimmage yards and 80 touchdowns in first seven seasons (NFL history):


Christian McCaffrey


Ezekiel Elliott


Adrian Peterson


LaDainian Tomlinson*


Shaun Alexander


Marshall Faulk*


Emmitt Smith*


Barry Sanders*


Eric Dickerson*


Jim Brown* 


* First ballot Hall of Famer

If McCaffrey can come close to his level of play that he put together in 2023 for about two or three more years, he will have himself a decent shot at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.