Highest-graded running backs from the 2023 NFL season: Rookie De'Von Achane paces the group

2WBX641 Miami Gardens, United States. 07th Jan, 2024. Miami Dolphins running back De'Von Achane (28) carries the ball during the NFL Regular Season game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on January 7, 2024. The Bills defeated the Dolphins 21-14. (Matt Patterson/Image of Sport) Photo via Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News

• Dolphins' De'Von Achane shines in first NFL season: The speedster's efficiency helped him earn a 92.1 PFF overall grade.

• The do-it-all Christian McCaffrey ranks among the elite again: The 49ers running back recorded a 90.3 PFF grade to place second at the position.

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Before we go full steam ahead into free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft, we’re taking one last look at the top players in the NFL at each position.

Here were the top 20 running backs in the NFL by overall PFF grade in 2023.

1. De’Von Achane, Miami Dolphins: 92.1

Achane didn’t see the volume of some of the other top running backs, but his efficiency was unmatched. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry, including 4.9 after contact, and forced 30 missed tackles on 108 rushing attempts.

2. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers: 90.3

This was the full season the 49ers were hoping for when they traded for McCaffrey from the Carolina Panthers midway through the 2022 NFL season. His 331 carries were the most of any player in football, while his 5.2 yards per carry average tied for second. He also ranked second at the position with an 86.5 PFF receiving grade in 2023.

3. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans: 90.2

If this was Henry’s last season in Tennessee, as seems to be the expectation, he at least went out with another impressive year. He averaged 3.3 yards after contact, and 4.2 yards overall, and he didn’t fumble on 280 carries in 2023.

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4. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals: 89.2

Conner very quietly had a career year in 2023, setting career highs in PFF grade, rushing yards, yards per carry and yards after contact per carry. His 3.9 yards after contact per carry average trailed only Achane. He also went through the season with no fumbles from 235 touches and caught all 27 catchable passes thrown his way.

5. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins: 86.3

The second Miami Dolphins running back in the top five, Mostert racked up 18 rushing touchdowns in the regular season — four more than any other player in football. Despite sharing the backfield with Achane, he managed to rank 10th in the league with 1,012 rushing yards in the regular season, largely thanks to his ability to break off longer runs. He finished the regular season tied for fourth in 10-plus-yard carries (30).

6. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks: 83.5

Walker’s overall rushing numbers aren't too impressive — a 4.1 yards per carry average and 900 rushing yards — but he boosted his PFF grade by being difficult to bring down. His 56 missed tackles forced on rushing attempts in 2023 were tied for the fifth most among running backs.

7. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons: 82.6

Allgeier had a solid season making the most of his opportunities with the Falcons, and while his 3.7 yards per carry average doesn’t crack the top 40 at the position, he averaged 3.0 yards after contact per carry and forced 39 missed tackles on carries.

8. Breece Hall, New York Jets: 82.4

The fact that Hall was returning from a season-ending injury in 2022 makes his 2023 campaign all the more impressive. His 88.9 PFF receiving grade led all running backs, and he forced 31 missed tackles on 76 receptions. His 3.4 yards after contact per carry ranked fourth in 2023.

9. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers: 80.9

Jones earned an 85.7 PFF rushing grade in 2023, ranking seventh among running backs. His 3.4 yards after contact per carry mark tied with Hall for fourth in the league, and he equaled Raheem Mostert for seventh in the league with an average of 4.8 yards per carry.

10. Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams: 80.4

One of the fantasy stars of the 2023 NFL season, Williams finished 2023 with a 90.5 PFF rushing grade, ranking third among running backs. He dropped five of his 38 catchable targets as a receiver, and his three fumbles on rushing attempts were tied for eighth at the position, which is what dropped his overall grade.

11. Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs: 79.9

Pacheco impressed for the second season in a row. While his yards per carry average dropped from 5.0 in 2022 to 4.4 in 2023, his PFF rushing grade improved from 74.2 to 80.2. He forced a missed tackle once every 6.1 carries this past season, compared to once every 8.3 carries a year ago, making the most of his opportunities in his second year.

12. David Montgomery, Detroit Lions: 79.6

Part of the Lions' dynamic duo at running back, Montgomery racked up 13 rushing touchdowns in the regular season — tied for the third most at the position. Despite sharing the backfield with rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs, Montgomery still ranked seventh in the league with 54 missed tackles forced on 258 carries.

13. Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers: 78.5

Warren built on a solid rookie season with the Steelers in 2022 by producing a 2023 campaign in which he handled a larger workload and increased his efficiency. His 3.7 yards after contact per carry was the third-best mark at the position, which helped him average 5.2 yards per carry, tied for second among running backs.

14. Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears: 77.9

Herbert missed time in the middle of the season, but a strong start and finish helped propel him to a top-15 PFF grade among running backs in 2023. He tied for ninth at the position with a 4.6 yards per carry average, and 3.0 of that average came after contact.

15. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys: 77.5

The narrative about Pollard’s 2023 season was fascinating, with his efficiency dipping as he took on a more featured role. He still rushed for more than 1,000 yards and earned a PFF rushing grade above 80.0 for the fifth straight season. The big disappointment was his lack of breakaway runs, with 13 fewer 10-plus-yarders in 2023 than in 2022, despite his seeing 53 more carries.

16. Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers: 77.2

Hubbard made the most of his opportunities in 2023, with 2.9 of his 3.8 yards per carry average coming after contact. He fumbled just once on 238 carries. His 41 missed tackles forced on 238 carries ranked 20th among running backs.

17. Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars: 77.0

While Etienne’s 3.8 yards per carry average tied for 40th among running backs, the blocking in front of him was lacking, as 2.9 yards of that average came after contact. Etienne was difficult to bring down with the ball in his hands, too, with his 64 missed tackles forced on carries leading all running backs in the 2023 regular season.

18. Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans: 76.8

Spears saw just 100 carries as a rookie, but his performance will make the Titans feel a lot better about the impending departure of Derrick Henry. Spears averaged 3.2 yards after contact per carry, tied for 10th, and forced 26 missed tackles on just 100 carries. He made an impact in the passing game, too, forcing 27 missed tackles on 52 receptions.

19. Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings: 76.3

After handling just six carries as a rookie, Chandler saw a significant uptick in usage in 2023, particularly in the second half of the year. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry on 102 rushing attempts, with 2.9 of those yards coming after contact.

20. Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions: 76.3

The 12th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Gibbs impressed as a rookie and finished the year with a 5.2 yards per carry average, tied for the second-best mark in the league. He created big plays often, including 33 rushing attempts that went for 10-plus yards — the third most at the position.


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