All Pro Nation

NFL Running Backs Ranked (2018)

The featured list ranks the top 32 running backs in the NFL according to the following…

  • Pure Running
  • Vision
  • Patience
  • Receiving
  • Blocking

Notable Omissions

The following players were omitted from the list due to injuries.

  •  David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals)
  • Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings)
  • CJ Prosise (Seattle Seahawks)

 

 

32. Joe Mixon (Cincinnati Bengals)

2017 Stats (14 Games)

Rushing: 626 Yards, 3.5 Yards Per Carry, 4 Touchdowns

Receiving: 30 Receptions, 287 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

The Bengals have a solid nucleus set in place with rookie running back Joe Mixon. Jeremy Hill is now gone to New England so expect Joe Mixon to receive a full workload in 2018.

31. CJ Anderson (Carolina)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 1,007 Yards, 4.1 Yards Per Carry, 3 Touchdowns

Receiving: 28 Receptions, 224 Yards, 1 Touchdown

CJ Anderson quietly had another solid season for the Broncos despite a below average offensive line. A brand new coaching staff, the disastrous quarterback situation, and Anderson still found a way to rush for another 1,000-yard season. Well done.

 

30. Chris Ivory (Buffalo Bills)

2017 Stats (14 Games)

Rushing: 382 Yards, 3.4 Yards Per Carry, 1 Touchdown

Receiving: 21 Receptions, 175 Yards, 1 Touchdown

The numbers don’t speak to Ivory’s ranking. In an offense that featured a stud rookie running back (Leonard Fournette) it was hard for Ivory to see the field and get his fair amount of touches. He’s still a very serviceable goal-line/short yardage back and I’m excited to see what he does back in the AFC East with the Bills.

 

29. Bilal Powell (New York Jets)

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 772 Yards, 4.3 Yards Per Carry, 5 Touchdowns

Receiving: 23 Receptions, 170 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

Bilal Powell is what he is. He won’t stand out statistically but he’s a serviceable workhorse that gets the job done week in and week out. He takes care of the football, runs with patience and good vision, and doesn’t try and be more than he has to be. Many teams would be lucky to have his services.

 

28. Latavius Murray (Minnesota Vikings)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 842 Yards, 3.9 Yards Per Carry, 8 Touchdowns

Receiving: 15 Receptions, 103 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

Latavius Murray’s season got off to a slow start with his new team after coming off a pretty severe ankle injury, but as the season went on he got better. He’s a terrific short yardage back that doesn’t offer a whole lot of value as a receiver, but he gets the job done.

 

27. LeGarrette Blount (Detroit Lions)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 766 Yards, 4.4 Yards Per Carry, 2 Touchdowns

Receiving: 8 Receptions, 50 Yards, 1 Touchdown

LeGarrette Blount is a bigger more glorified version of Latavius Murray. A big short yardage running back that can lower his shoulder and plow over defenders. Philadelphia’s backfield was a bit more crowded than Murray’s with guys like Jay Ajayi, Wendell Smallwood, and Corey Clement so his numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he’s better than what his 2017 numbers indicate.

 

26. James White (New England Patriots)

2017 Stats (14 Games)

Rushing: 171 Yards, 4.0 Yards Per Carry, 0 Touchdowns

Receiving: 56 Receptions, 429 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

Another very good running back who had to share the overcrowded backfield. A better receiver than runner, James White was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The Patriots utilized him in a variety of different ways and when he was called upon to run the football, he did a serviceable job of that as well.

 

25. DeMarco Murray

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 659 Yards, 3.6 Yards Per Carry, 6 Touchdowns

Receiving: 39 Receptions, 266 Yards, 1 Touchdown

DeMarco Murray was beat out of Tennessee by Derrick Henry after having a disappointing 2017 season. The best way to describe him is a jack of all trades and a master of none. He’s not what he was in Dallas, but he can still be a good starting running back for a team in need of a veteran presence.

 

24. Duke Johnson (Cleveland Browns)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 348 Yards, 4.2 Yards Per Carry, 4 Touchdowns

Receiving: 74 Receptions, 693 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

Duke Johnson is a PPR God in Fantasy Football leagues. He’s one of the most dangerous receiving threats out of the backfield in the NFL. Johnson is fairly well-rounded and primarily a dual threat that can catch the football like a slot receiver. His main weakness is taking care of the football. Johnson has 6 fumbles in his first three seasons.

 

23. Jay Ajayi (Philadelphia Eagles)

2017 Stats (14 Games)

Rushing: 873 Yards, 4.6 Yards Per Carry, 1 Touchdown

Receiving: 24 Receptions, 158 Yards, 1 Touchdown

Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount made up one of the top running back duos in all of football in 2017. Ajayi was traded to Philadelphia mid-season from Miami where he ended up averaging nearly 6 yards per carry to finish the season. He doesn’t offer much value as a receiver but he’s a good blocker that runs with excellent vision and patience.

 

22. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 435 Yards, 3.7 Yards Per Carry, 2 Touchdowns

Receiving: 80 Receptions, 651 Yards, 5 Touchdowns

Christian McCaffrey is the absolute perfect fit in the Carolina offense. An offense that can line him up all over the field and run plenty of option plays with him out of the backfield as well. Much like Duke Johnson, Christian McCaffrey is basically a glorified slot receiver that has excellent hands and route running skills, yet still has the vision and necessary skills to be a quality back out of the backfield.

 

21. Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Raiders)

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 891 Yards, 4.3 Yards Per Carry, 7 Touchdowns

Receiving: 20 Receptions, 151 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

Marshawn Lynch didn’t run for 1,000 yards last season so his production slipped under the radar a bit. His season was nothing spectacular, but he still rushed for 60 yards per game and wasn’t afraid to stick his nose in the dirt and block for Derek Carr, despite concerns that he may not have the same amount of passion as he did prior to his “coming out party”.

 

20. Kenyan Drake (Miami Dolphins)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 644 Yards, 4.8 Yards Per Carry, 3 Touchdowns

Receiving: 32 Receptions, 239 Yards, 1 Touchdown

Kenyan Drake didn’t take over the workhorse load until midseason when Jay Ajayi was traded away to the Eagles. Once given the opportunity, Drake didn’t look back. He looked like a veteran running back who ran with good technique and showed the capability of being a full-time starter for the Dolphins. In 2018 he’ll have the opportunity to share a backfield with future Hall of Famer, Frank Gore. With an opportunity to learn from a player like that, Drake should only get better from here.

 

19. Chris Thompson (Washington Redskins)

2017 Stats (10 Games)

Rushing: 294 Yards, 4.6 Yards Per Carry, 2 Touchdowns

Receiving: 39 Receptions, 510 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

Chris Thompson is one of the most underrated in the league, in my opinion. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending injury after 10 games, but prior to that, he was sometimes the only bright spot in the Washington offense. Before his broken fibula, Thompson was Washington’s best receiver and capable of taking the rock to the house everytime he touched the ball. At 5’8″ 190 pounds, he isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty in the blocking game either. He’s more than capable of being a three-down back.

 

18. Alex Collins (Baltimore Ravens)

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 973 Yards, 4.6 Yards Per Carry, 6 Touchdowns

Receiving: 23 Receptions, 187 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

Alex Collins very quietly almost rushed for 1,000 yards this season for the Ravens in just his second season in the league. He ran with good pad level, vision, and patience in order to be named the full-time starter in the Baltimore offense. Despite playing without Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis all season, he still found a way to elude tacklers and become a pleasant surprise to not only the Ravens but to everyone around the league. This was a terrific pick up by Baltimore.

 

17. Lamar Miller (Houston Texans)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 888 Yards, 3.7 Yards Per Carry, 3 Touchdowns

Receiving: 36 Receptions, 327 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

2017 was a disappointing season for Lamar Miller, just a year after I had him ranked as a top 10 back in the NFL. For the first time in his six-year career, he averaged less than 4 yards per carry. He looked like he didn’t trust his offensive line to make holes for him and I can’t say I blame him. The Houston Texans had arguably the worst offensive line in the league last season. A couple upgrades including Zach Fulton coming down from Kansas City should help Miller’s production, tremendously.

 

16. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 744 Yards, 4.2 Yards Per Carry, 5 Touchdowns

Receiving: 11 Receptions, 136 Yards, 1 Touchdown

I’m curious to see what Derrick Henry’s numbers would’ve looked like had he not been sharing a backfield with DeMarco Murray last season. The unique thing about Derrick Henry is he doesn’t need the offensive line to make holes for him. He’s so big and fast that he can create his own additional yardage all by himself. I can’t wait to see how he plays with an increased workload in 2018. He can run and block but his lack of production as a receiving threat forces me to put him lower on this list than most would like.

 

15. Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco 49ers)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 570 Yards, 3.8 Yards Per Carry, 3 Touchdowns

Receiving: 51 Receptions, 421 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

“Jet” McKinnon stepped up in 2017 after rookie running back Dalvin Cook went down and proved that he can handle a full workload as a starter for someone. That team just so happens to be the San Francisco 49ers. His vision will make you scratch your head at times when he misses wide open holes, but his incredible quickness to elude defenders and his consistent production as a receiver cannot be denied. For a little guy…he’s not afraid to take a hit and defend his quarterback either.

 

14. Tevin Coleman (Atlanta Falcons)

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 628 Yards, 4.0 Yards Per Carry, 5 Touchdowns

Receiving: 27 Receptions, 299 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

It’s very frustrating to see a back like Tevin Coleman being held down because he has a guy like Devonta Freeman in front of him. He really is a “can do it all” type of running back who NFL defenses have a hard time preparing for because they’ve already spent so much time trying to figure out how to stop the starter. His contract is almost up though, his time as a full-time starter is coming soon.

 

13. Carlos Hyde (Cleveland Browns)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 938 Yards, 3.9 Yards Per Carry, 8 Touchdowns

Receiving: 59 Receptions, 350 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

I love Carlos Hyde and he’s a solid addition to a new and improved Cleveland offense. Up until Jimmy Garoppolo took over in San Francisco, Carlos Hyde was the main man in the center of the stage for a few years. He’s been consistently good for a long time but even though he’s played in all 16 games last season, he always seems to be fighting the injury bug. The older he gets the more of a problem that is going to become.

 

12. Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 1,105 Yards, 3.9 Yards Per Carry, 8 Touchdowns

Receiving: 58 Receptions, 476 Yards, 4 Touchdowns

It’s not that Melvin Gordon can’t run between the tackles…but it seems as if he doesn’t want to. Sometimes he seems like he still thinks he’s in college when he consistently tries to bounce runs outside. It’s not like it doesn’t work for him, though. Gordon lacks patience when a hole doesn’t develop for him immediately, he looks for the easiest way out. He’s at his best in the open field where he can make his cuts and elude defenders. Melvin Gordon is a true three-down running back.

 

11. Dion Lewis (Tennessee Titans)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 896 Yards, 5.0 Yards Per Carry, 6 Touchdowns

Receiving: 32 Receptions, 214 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

The most underrated running back in all of football comes in at #11. At 5’8″ 195 pounds, there’s really nothing Dion Lewis can’t do. He’s an excellent runner with good vision and patience, he has good reliable hands as a receiving threat out of the backfield, and for a little guy, he’s a really good blocker that’s not afraid to stonewall someone for his QB. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis will now combine to become one of the most dangerous two-headed monsters in the NFL in 2018.

 

10. Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars)

2017 Stats (13 Games)
Rushing: 1,040 Yards, 3.9 Yards Per Carry, 9 Touchdowns

Receiving: 36 Receptions, 302 Yards, 1 Touchdown

The difference in the 2016 Jacksonville running game and the 2017 Jacksonville running game was night and day, and Leonard Fournette was the reason why. At 6’0″ 230 pounds, Fournette is the perfect combination of size and power. He’s not the best receiver and he can improve as a blocker but he’s one of the best runners in the league already, in and outside the tackles. He did have a few contests where he disappeared, but that’s not uncommon for a rookie. The Jaguars have to be excited about what they have moving forward.

 

9. Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears)

2017 Stats (16 games)

Rushing: 1,122 Yards, 4.1 Yards Per Carry, 9 Touchdowns

Receiving: 23 Receptions, 125 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

The Bears drafted the “human joystick” (Tarik Cohen) to take a load off of Jordan Howard in the receiving game. Howard and Cohen were considered the “thunder and lightning” in the Chicago offense. Howard was the only consistent threat in the Bears’ offense in 2017 and it’s amazing he ran for 1,000 yards considering teams were stacking 8-9 guys in the box to stop him last season. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, Jordan Howard faced 8 or more defenders in the box on 43% of his snaps in 2017. Nearly half. With the additions of Allen Robinson and Trey Burton, that should take a load off of Howard in the upcoming season. I expect him to be much higher on this list next offseason.

 

8. Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 1,124 Yards, 4.9 Yards Per Carry, 12 Touchdowns

Receiving: 58 Receptions, 416 Yards, 0 Touchdowns

Mark Ingram is coming off of a career year in his 7th season in the NFL. Rookie phenom Alvin Kamara got most of the attention from the NFL media and fans and Ingram’s name was quietly swept under the rug while he was having his own Pro Bowl-level season. Ingram is a technician and for a guy his size, that’s tough to master. He can run inside and out, he’s a terrific blocker, and he was actually utilized in the passing game more than you’d expect. Mark Ingram understands his role in the New Orleans offense, and he’s perfected it.

 

7. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)

2017 Stats (10 Games)

Rushing: 983 Yards, 4.1 Yards Per Carry, 7 Touchdowns

Receiving: 26 Receptions, 269 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

Zeke Elliott only played in 10 games in 2017 due to a suspension from an off the field concern, and he still nearly ran for 1,000 yards. In his absence from the Dallas offense during his suspension, the Cowboys realized just how valuable Elliott is to their offense. Dak Prescott probably actually realized it more than others. His production and play dropped from his rookie season but Elliott is still an all-around back. He’s placed lower on this list than the guys in front of him because I believe his offensive line’s blocking for him deserves more credit than they deserve.

 

6. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 1,138 Yards, 4.0 Yards Per Carry, 6 Touchdowns

Receiving: 59 Receptions, 448 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

For the first time in a long time, LeSean McCoy has dropped outside my top 5 running backs list. He’s still a terrific back, though. He’s well rounded in almost all areas of his game, which is something you need in order to make the list this high. He’s arguably the toughest back in the league to tackle in open space and his Twitter handle speaks for his game itself (@cutondime25). McCoy is, however, reaching the number that all running backs dread. The age of 30. The age where decline and injuries begin to take place for most running backs. It will be interesting to see if he can still be productive in 2018 without three starters from last seasons offensive line (Cordy Glenn, Richie Incognito, and Eric Wood).

 

5. Kareem Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 1,327 Yards, 4.9 Yards Per Carry, 8 Touchdowns

Receiving: 53 Receptions, 455 Yards, 3 Touchdowns

This rookie phenom was a joy to watch in his first season in the league and it’s hard to imagine he’s not in the conversation of “top 5 running backs”, already. He’s a true technician that made the most of every run, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry. Hunt took the league by storm and blew almost every back out of the water in nearly every statistical category up to the mid-way point in the season. At that point, for whatever reason he may have had, Andy Reid stopped force-feeding Hunt. Why fix what’s not broken? We’ll never know.

 

4. Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons)

2017 Stats (14 Games)

Rushing: 865, 4.4 Yards Per Carry, 7 Touchdowns

Receiving: 36 Receptions, 317 Yards, 1 Touchdown

Devonta Freeman’s numbers were bound to take a bit of a dip with the departure of offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan. Having a guy like Tevin Coleman as your dancing partner doesn’t help either, but nonetheless, Devonta Freeman is still a “top 5 running back” in my opinion. He doesn’t have any weaknesses. He’s a decisive runner with the ball in his hands and he can hit top speed quicker than almost any back in the league. Tevin Coleman is bound to get his own gig soon, so Freeman’s numbers shouldn’t stay low for long.

 

3. Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints)

2017 Stats (16 Games)

Rushing: 728 Yards, 6.1 Yards Per Carry, 8 Touchdowns

Receiving: 81 Receptions, 826 Yards, 5 Touchdowns

Alvin Kamara might have proved in his very first season in the league that he might be the most well-rounded back in the league. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and put up the numbers in the receiving game of a WR2 out of the backfield. The Saints utilized him in so many different ways it made it so hard on defenses to slow him down when they already had to worry about Mark Ingram and Michael Thomas as well. Now he’s on his journey to make the other 31 teams pay for passing on him twice in the 2017 NFL Draft.

 

2. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 1,305 Yards, 4.7 Yards Per Carry, 13 Touchdowns

Receiving: 64 Receptions, 788 Yards, 6 Touchdowns

He lives! After having a very disappointing 2016 outing, Gurley returned to form. The form of player we all knew he had the potential of being. Sean McVay used Todd Gurley the way he should be used in 2017. Gurley has excellent vision and he’s extremely dangerous in space. McVay did a great job of implementing him into play designs that allow him to get the ball with an open field in his sights. He’s a threat to score each and every time he touches the ball and his sound production in the receiving game was enough to even earn him some MVP candidacy consideration. Some may argue that he is the best running back in the NFL, but I can’t push myself to put him above #1.

 

1. Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)

2017 Stats (15 Games)

Rushing: 1,291 Yards, 4.0 Yards Per Carry, 9 Touchdowns

Receiving: 85 Receptions, 655 Yards, 2 Touchdowns

The most dynamic running back in football. The part of Le’Veon Bell’s game that sticks out the most on tape is his patience. His ability to hug his offensive line and wait for blocks to set themselves up is “Hall of Fame elite”. He’ll hug his line until a hole opens up and dart through even the smallest of openings to turn a 2-yard play into 15-yard play. He might be the best blocking running back in the league and he’s a dynamic receiving threat that can line up in the slot and even run better routes than most receivers. His outstanding versatility is what makes him so valuable and because of his well-roundedness, it’s hard to find a running back in the league that you can place higher on this list. David Johnson of the Cardinals may very well earn some consideration, but we have no idea how Johnson will look coming off of a season-ending injury. The rankings next offseason are bound to be full of fun if guys like Bell, Johnson, Gurley, and Kamara are all fully healthy in 2018.

 

 

Who are your top 5 running backs? Leave yours below. Thanks for reading!

Like and Share this article:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *