2024 NFL running back unit rankings: 49ers, Dolphins lead the pack

2TB0BHA Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. 3rd Dec, 2023. December 03, 2023, Philadelphia PA, USA: SAN FRANCISCO RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (23) runs in for a touchdown during the game against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA Credit Image: © Ricky Fitchett via ZUMA Wire (Credit Image: © Ricky Fitchett/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!

• San Francisco remains the home of the NFL's top backfield for a second straight year: Christian McCaffrey is PFF's top-ranked running back heading into the 2024 season, so it should be no surprise the Niners take the No. 1 spot.

• Dolphins boast the most explosive running back room in the NFL: Speed is the name of the game in Miami, with Raheem Mostert, De’Von Achane and rookie Jaylen Wright making up a fearsome trio.

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Estimated Reading Time: 12 minutes

PFF's offseason positional rankings roll on with the NFL's top running back units. After plenty of shake-ups via the 2024 NFL Draft and free agency, this is how we stack up the running back rooms for the upcoming season.

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Christian McCaffrey is PFF's top-ranked running back heading into the 2024 season, so it should be no surprise the Niners take the No. 1 spot here.

McCaffrey generated the most PFF wins above average among running backs last season, at 0.25. Elijah Mitchell also remains a very solid RB2 option with rookie Isaac Guerendo as the upside RB3. Throw All-Pro fullback Kyle Juszczyk into the list, and the 49ers more than deserve this ranking.


The Dolphins earned the highest team rushing grade last season, at 94.1. Their top two backs, Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane, recorded elite rushing grades of 91.7 and 93.1, respectively.

As a group, Miami tallied the most explosive runs of 20 yards or more last season (61). The Dolphins added another speedster to their backfield in the offseason in rookie Jaylen Wright from Tennessee.


The Lions, led by David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs, were a top-five team in rushing touchdowns (24), missed tackles forced (96), explosive run plays (55) and rushing grade (90.2) in 2023.

Gibbs is primed to be even better in 2024, so expect Detroit to stay near the top of these rankings.

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Even without including dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens ranked seventh in the NFL in PFF rushing grade last year. Now they throw All-Pro back Derrick Henry into the mix.

Henry trailed only Christian McCaffrey in PFF wins above average last season — 0.25 to 0.20. Keaton Mitchell is coming off a torn ACL but looked like a great RB2 before going down last year.


Bijan Robinson is a special talent, and the Falcons being this high on the list stems partially from an expectation that he will take another step forward in 2024 after recording more than 1,400 scrimmage yards in 2023.

But it’s also a nod to RB2 Tyler Allgeier, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his first season with a 78.0 rushing grade behind Robinson in 2023. They form one of the NFL's better one-two punches at running back.


Josh Jacobs had a down year with the Raiders in 2023 after rushing for more than 1,600 yards and earning an elite 91.9 rushing grade in 2022. But there wasn’t much help around him in Las Vegas, and he is now in Green Bay with A.J. Dillon and rookie MarShawn Lloyd behind him. That bodes well for Jacobs to enjoy a bounce-back year.


Taylor led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in 2021, just his second season in the league. He has yet to play a full season since, first due to injuries in 2022 and then a contract standoff in 2023.

Now signed and healthy, Taylor is poised for a 2024 season more reminiscent of his 2021 year than anything in between. Though the Colts are light on depth after him, with Trey Sermon and Evan Hull next in line, Taylor’s potential is enough to make this a top-10 group.


The Browns would easily have a top-five running back room if Nick Chubb didn’t suffer a terrible knee injury last year — one we weren’t sure he would be able to come back from.

Jerome Ford carried the rock well in his stead, amassing more than 800 yards. Kareem Hunt is no longer on the team, but all reports indicate Chubb is rehabbing as best he can and will return in 2024. If he’s anything close to the Nick Chubb we know, this is a top-10 running back group.


While Saquon Barkley is a talented back, he has not been the same player he was as a rookie in 2018 when he took the league by storm. He rushed for more than 900 yards last season and stayed relatively healthy, which was a win in itself.

With Barkley now in Philly, paired with a better offensive line and a more diverse offense, we could see the best version of him since that rookie season. The Eagles also have the talented Kenneth Gainwell behind him.

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The Jets are light on backs with experience beyond Breece Hall, but Hall has already established himself as one of the best in the league. He earned a 77.8 rushing grade with an 88.9 receiving grade in 2023, all while ranking as a top-10 running back in PFF wins above average (0.14).

He can do so much for this offense at such a high level. Behind him are two rookies, Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis, as well as the speedster Izzy Abanikanda.


This might be too high a ranking for the Rams. Still. Kyren Williams earned an 80.3 PFF rushing grade with the sixth-highest PFF wins above average figure (0.17) in 2023.

The team also now has rookie Blake Corum, who felt like he was slow to trust his knee after injury in the first half of 2023 but returned to form during Michigan's playoff stretch. Let’s not forget Corum earned an incredible 96.2 rushing grade in 2022. These two could make up one of the league's most efficient running back rooms.


Travis Etienne’s yards per carry average dipped in 2023, but he forced the most missed tackles (64) of any back in the NFL in the regular season and ranked fourth in PFF wins above average (0.17), showcasing valuable talent as a rusher and receiver.

It’s a bit less consistent after him, with D’Ernest Johnson and Tank Bigsby spelling the Clemson product, but Etienne’s talent carries this unit to the top 12.


Minnesota placed 24th in the league in PFF rushing grade in 2023 before making major improvements by acquiring Aaron Jones in free agency. Jones has been one of the 10 best backs in the NFL for years now. He ranked in the top 10 in both PFF wins above average per year and in total since 2020.

Ty Chandler is behind Jones, and the second-year back had a decent 2023 season with a team-best 77.2 rushing grade.


Kenneth Walker is one of the NFL's most boom-or-bust backs, having recorded a missed tackles forced average above 0.20 but also a stuff percentage (rushes for no gain or a loss) above 20% in each of the past two seasons.

Despite the lower efficiency, Walker's positive reps are so good that he has earned PFF rushing grades above 84.0 in each of the past two years. If he can stay healthy and cut down on the negatives, he can be a top-10 back and carry this group. Zach Charbonnet will slot in as RB2 after a solid rookie season in which he earned a 74.4 rushing grade.


Tony Pollard finds himself in Tennessee after struggling to regain his form following a high ankle sprain and a broken leg in the 2022-2023 playoffs. But his 2023 numbers were still solid, including a 4.0 yards per carry average, 1,000-plus rushing yards once again and an 84.7 PFF rushing grade.

Pollard and Tyjae Spears will be the one-two combo for the Titans, and it’s a duo with a decently high ceiling after Spears recorded a 0.26 missed tackles forced per attempt average and a 4.6 yards per carry average.


James Conner had a career year in 2023. He earned an 88.4 rushing grade, tallied 1,040 yards and 31 explosive runs, and averaged 0.29 missed tackles forced per attempt and 5.0 yards per carry.

The Cardinals also added the talented Trey Benson in the draft, so if Conner repeats his 2023 efficiency with Benson now the RB2, they will be in the top half of a lot of rushing statistics.

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Both Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren were top-25 running backs in PFF wins above average in 2023. The Steelers ranked 13th in the league in PFF rushing grade from their running backs, and 14th in EPA per rush.

Warren and Harris each averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry, as well, and the two remain a very solid duo for 2024.


Isiah Pacheco is the king of consistency, earning rushing grades of 74.2 and 80.2 in the past two seasons. He also recorded a yards per carry average above 4.5 in each of the past two seasons with 40 explosive runs, 20 in both years.

Kansas City still has Clyde Edwards-Helaire behind him, but not much is known after that.


The Bears added D’Andre Swift to a group already containing Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson. Swift racked up the most rushing yards of his career last year, but that was mainly due to volume instead of a major breakout. He, Herbert and Johnson form a nice trio.

Herbert might be the dark horse of the group, having averaged 0.24 and 0.25 missed tackles forced per attempt in the past two years with yards per carry averages above 4.5. The depth of this group feels more valuable than its ceiling.


Rachaad White quietly generated the eighth-best PFF wins above average figure among running backs last season (0.16). Though his yards per carry average was below 4.0 for the second year in a row, he amassed 900-plus rushing yards and 500-plus receiving yards as an all-purpose back.

The Buccaneers drafted Bucky Irving in the fourth round, a player with a similar skill set. I am bullish on this young running back duo in 2024.


Cook finished fourth in 2023 in total rushing yards (1,122) and 17th in PFF wins above average (0.13). He has maintained healthy yards per carry averages, above 4.5, in each of the past two seasons, too.

Behind him on the depth chart are unknowns. Ty Johnson has never eclipsed more than 300 yards in a single season, and Ray Davis is a rookie. If Cook can repeat his explosiveness in 2024, the Bills will finish the season higher than this.


Although Alvin Kamara has yet to tally less than 1,000 all-purpose yards in any of his seven NFL seasons, he is almost 30 and it’s hard to see that efficiency and volume bouncing back to prime levels.

Beyond him, it’s Jamaal Williams, who took a big step back from his 2022 season in Detroit, and second-year back Kendre Miller. If Kamara is healthy, he provides this group with a high floor. But it feels like the unit has a low ceiling, too.


The Texans will implement a three-pronged punch of Joe Mixon, Dameon Pierce and Dare Ogunbowale in 2024.

Mixon will likely take the early-down work as a still-reliable running back, although his overall production has been more volume-based than efficiency-based.

Pierce can handle the reserve and short-yardage situations, and Ogunbowale is a solid third-down back. It’s a solid rotation, but one that seems to have a limited ceiling.


The Commanders ranked 16th in PFF rushing grade in 2023 before subbing out Antonio Gibson for Austin Ekeler this offseason. Ekeler is coming off the lowest single-season rushing and receiving grades (65.1 and 57.4) of his career, but a change of scenery for him in Washington could lead to a bounce back.

Behind Ekeler, Washington haw Brian Robinson and Chris Rodriguez Jr., both of whom earned rushing grades above 73.0 last season.

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Rhamondre Stevenson is a solid back who has yet to finish a single season with a rushing grade below 78.0. He has also averaged more than 4.0 yards per carry in all three of his NFL campaigns. He doesn’t bring a ton to the passing game, but that’s what the Patriots signed Antonio Gibson for. This group has a high floor but a low ceiling.


The best could still be to come for J.K. Dobbins, who joined Los Angeles this offseason. Dobbins was a sensation at Ohio State (something his new head coach Jim Harbaugh knows well). But he tore his ACL in 2021, suffered another knee injury in 2022 and tore his Achilles in 2023.

The Chargers have the newly signed veteran Gus Edwards, as well, and he has been very reliable throughout his career. If both can remain healthy, this can be a strong duo.


Chuba Hubbard placed 18th in PFF wins above average last season (0.18), and the Panthers also drafted who I believe to be the top back in the 2024 NFL Draft in Jonathon Brooks, who earned an elite 92.0 rushing grade last season.

If Brooks can progress nicely and confidently after his ACL tear in November, this has the chance to be a sneaky good group with an improved offensive line in front of them.


Devin Singletary looks to be the main back in New York after Saquon Barkley‘s offseason exit. He reunites with former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll after generating the fifth-best PFF wins above average figure last season (0.17).

Eric Gray is in line for RB2 duties, and rookie Tyrone Tracy is the ultimate wild card who could really boost this group, especially in the passing game.


Undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin was the bright spot of the Broncos' rushing attack last season, posting an 84.5 PFF rushing grade on 76 carries. The big disappointment was Javonte Williams, who earned just a 64.4 rushing grade after recovering from a major knee injury in 2022.

Perhaps Williams just needed a year to get his confidence back, because he was a highly touted running back in the 2022 NFL Draft.


The Bengals signed Zack Moss this offseason to replace Joe Mixon, who the team traded to the Texans. Moss has recorded steady rushing grades in the 70.0s in each of his four seasons with a healthy yards per carry average right around 4.0.

Cincinnati also has Chase Brown, their fifth-round pick from 2023, to bring some added speed to the backfield. Brown had a tough rookie season, recording a 59.0 rushing grade.


It felt like the Raiders were left high and dry after watching Josh Jacobs sign elsewhere. Their backfield state is now some combination of Zamir White, Alexander Mattison and rookie Dylan Laube.

White earned a 70.6 PFF rushing grade last season, while Mattison recorded a 68.4 figure.


After letting Tony Pollard sign elsewhere in free agency, and missing out on the top backs in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Cowboys re-signed Ezekiel Elliott to be their lead rusher.

Elliott's glory days came with the Cowboys, but his yards per carry average has dipped below 4.0 over the past two seasons, resulting in a career-low 69.2 PFF rushing grade in 2023. Behind him are Rico Dowdle and Deuce Vaughn.


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