PFF Running Back Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season

2RT3D4B San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey warms up before an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

It’s Christian McCaffrey’s world: The 49ers star is unquestionably the best running back in the NFL ahead of the 2024 season.

Questions over Nick Chubb’s health see him slightly drop: The Browns’ starting running back suffered a devastating injury in 2023, and he dropped down the rankings as a result.

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Estimated Reading Time: 14 minutes

With the NFL offseason in full swing, it’s ranking season, and we carry on our series (click here for quarterbacks and here for wide receivers) by ranking all 32 projected starters heading into the 2024 season.

1. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

McCaffrey has been by far and away the most productive running back in the NFL for the past two seasons, and he dominated once again in 2023. He led the league with a career-high 1,459 rushing yards and added a league-leading 21 total touchdowns in the process, earning a 90.6 grade — the second highest in the NFL.

The former Panther was the ultimate workhorse, too. His 339 touches from scrimmage led the league, and despite the lofty workload, his efficiency was excellent. McCaffrey averaged 5.0 yards per carry and caught 67 passes for 564 yards.

2. Derrick Henry, Baltimore Ravens

Like Barkley, Derrick Henry will be plying his trade on a new team for the first time in his NFL career, after eight wildly successful seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Henry rushed for 1,167 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on a 4.2 yards per carry clip in 2023, earning a 90.1 grade — the third highest among NFL running backs.

Age and a lack of production in the passing game hold Henry back, but he’s staved off Father Time longer than most running backs could only dream of. The Henry-Lamar Jackson pairing in 2024 should keep defenses awake at night.

3. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor hasn’t hit the heights of his 2021 season in the past two years, but he still rushed for 741 yards and seven touchdowns in 10 games, earning a 74.9 grade in 2023. Off-field tension plagued Taylor and his relationship with the Colts early on, but once he was back on the field, it was back to business.

His 3.12 yards per contact was the 16th-best mark in the NFL, and his 4.4 yards per carry ranked 22nd. With a fully healthy offseason under his belt, Taylor will head into the season looking to take back the NFL’s rushing title.

Click here to see Jonathan Taylor's PFF Premium Stats profile.

4. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Nick Chubb has long been considered one of the best running backs in the league, and rightly so. He had rushed for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons prior to 2023, amassing 40 rushing touchdowns in that time, and was the fulcrum of the Browns’ offense up until his devastating season-ending injury last year.

If Chubb returns as anything that closely resembles his former self, then he’ll remain one of the elite running backs in the NFL. But that’s a tough ask, considering the severity of his injury.

5. Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Robinson didn’t explode onto the scene in his rookie season quite like how many predicted, but his talent is glaringly obvious to anyone who watched the No. 8 overall pick from 2023. Robinson rushed for 976 yards and four touchdowns at a 4.5-yard per-carry clip, narrowly missing out on a 1,000-yard rushing season in his rookie year.

Despite that, Robinson earned a respectable 69.1 grade, amassed 1,463 total scrimmage yards and averaged 0.25 missed tackles forced per carry, tied for fifth among all running backs. His ascension is a virtual guarantee.

6. Saquon Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles

After five years with the New York Giants, Saquon Barkley will be toting the rock behind a vaunted Eagles offensive line and hoping for more efficiency. Barkley is still one of the most talented running backs in the NFL but averaged just 3.9 yards per carry in 2023, despite rushing for 962 yards in 14 games.

His 70.2 grade in 2023 was down from his 77.1 grade in 2022, but Barkley still posted solid numbers and his 719 yards after contact ranked ninth. If he’s healthy, Barkley could explode in 2024.

7. Breece Hall, New York Jets

After suffering a torn ACL in his rookie season, Breece Hall responded with an excellent 2023 campaign. Hall rushed for 994 yards and five touchdowns on a decent 4.5-yard clip and showed little sign of any post-injury effects.

His 82.4 grade was the ninth highest among all running backs, and he proved how good he was after contact. Hall averaged 3.43 yards after contact per rushing attempt, the sixth-highest figure at the position.

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8. Aaron Jones, Minnesota Vikings

Jones has been one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL for some time now. In his final season with the Green Bay Packers, the former UTEP running back earned a 76.1 grade in an injury-plagued season, but when he was on the field, Jones rushed for 656 yards and two touchdowns at a clip of 4.6 yards per carry. The fact that that’s a career low for Jones is a testament to his efficiency.

Jones thrived at creating yards after contact, too. His 3.16 yards after contact per attempt number ranked 14th in the NFL, and he forced 26 missed tackles in just 11 games.

9. Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions

Gibbs stepped into the NFL with a big weight on his shoulders after the Lions drafted him with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, and he delivered with an excellent rookie season. His 74.5 grade ranked 25th among running backs, as he rushed for 945 yards and 10 touchdowns at an excellent 5.2 yards-per-carry clip.

Only Henry and McCaffrey totaled more rushes of 15-plus yards than Gibbs in 2023, and his 3.12 yards after contact per attempt tied for 16th among running backs. With 52 catches under his belt in his first year, too, Gibbs will remain a focal point of the Lions' offense.

10. Josh Jacobs, Green Bay Packers

Jacobs led the league in rushing in 2022 but fell back to earth a bit in 2023. His 805 rushing yards were 25th among running backs and his 3.5 yards per carry placed 53rd out of 63 running backs, but Jacobs’ talent is evident.

He still racked up 1,101 scrimmage yards, crossing four figures for the fifth time in his career, and scored six rushing touchdowns, but 2023 wasn’t the best showcase of his talent. That could come this year in Green Bay behind an excellent offensive line.

11. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

Etienne upped his workload in 2023 and reaped the benefits, posting another 1,000-yard rushing season and adding 11 touchdowns on the ground while earning a 77.0 grade — 17th best among running backs.

His efficiency dropped from 5.1 yards per carry to 3.8, way below league average, but no running back forced more missed tackles than Etienne (64) in the regular season and his 10 rushes of 15-plus yards tied for 15th at the position.

12. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

Walker’s efficiency dropped from a year ago, but the former second-round pick is still one of the most explosive running backs in the NFL and a touchdown machine. He rushed for 905 yards and eight touchdowns in Year 2 and recorded the fifth-highest rate of missed tackles forced in the NFL.

He’s been described often as a boom-or-bust runner, evidenced by his 21.3% stuff rate and 25 explosive runs in 2023, both in the top 15 at the position, but he’s certainly one of the most fun players to watch and is coming off an 83.5 PFF grade.

13. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

Mostert has aged like fine wine because of his incredible speed, setting career highs across the board in his second season with the Dolphins. He led the league in rushing touchdowns (18) and rushed for 1,012 yards at 4.8 yards per carry, earning a career-high 85.8 grade — sixth in the NFL.

Injuries have slowed Mostert in the past, but he’s been more or less fully healthy for the past two years and is finally showing the NFL just how good of a starting running back he can be thanks to that speed and vision.

Click here to see Raheem Mostert's PFF Premium Stats profile.

14. Tony Pollard, Tennessee Titans

Pollard took on the role of the Dallas Cowboys lead back in 2023 and eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season, but it wasn’t easy. After rushing for 5.2 yards per attempt in 2022, he rushed for 4.0 yards per attempt in 2023 due to a lack of explosiveness in his game after suffering a broken leg and high ankle sprain in the playoffs a year ago.

He still earned a 76.6 grade in 2023 and ranked 12th in forced missed tackles, but the Cowboys elected not to re-sign Pollard in the summer, and now he’ll look to replace Derrick Henry in Tennessee.

15. Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

Pacheco runs like he’s mad at the ground for its existence. The Chiefs’ seventh-round pick from 2023 rushed for 935 yards and seven touchdowns en route to helping the team to back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

Averaging 4.6 yards per carry, Pacheco earned an 82.3 grade in 2023 and tallied 11 runs of 15-plus yards. He’ll continue to be a real weapon for the Chiefs in their pursuit of immortality.

16. Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams

After a quiet rookie season in which he received just 35 touches, Kyren Williams exploded in his second season in the NFL, earning an 80.3 grade across 12 games. In those outings, Williams rushed for 1,144 yards and 12 touchdowns at 5.0 yards per carry, and he also led the league in rushing yards per game.

He forced the 10th-most missed tackles, averaged 3.34 yards after contact and racked up 26 explosive runs of 10-plus yards. He’ll continue to feature in the Rams' offense moving forward.

17. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

Many were surprised when James Conner signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2022, despite his scoring 15 touchdowns a season prior, but Conner has slowly been paying back the Cardinals. That culminated in a career year in 2023, in which he rushed for 1,040 yards while averaging 5.0 yards per carry and scored seven rushing touchdowns.

Conner’s 89.2 grade ranked fourth among running backs in 2023, and his 3.93 yards after contact placed second, behind De’Von Achane. It’s unlikely that those lofty numbers will carry over, but Conner has been a plus for the Cardinals' offense.

18. De'Von Achane, Miami Dolphins

Achane carried the ball only 108 times in the regular season but made every touch count. He led the NFL in yards per attempt, at a lofty 7.5 yards per carry, and with an excellent 92.1 grade in his rookie season.

The former third-round pick was a nearly automatic big play waiting to happen. No running back created more yards after contact per attempt than Achane (4.94), and despite the small workload, he had 13 rushes of 15-plus yards, tied for sixth in the NFL.

19. Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers

Warren has carved out a significant role for himself in the Steelers' offense, providing more dynamism compared to Najee Harris‘ bruiser style of play. Warren earned a 78.6 grade in 2023, rushing 149 times for 784 yards and four touchdowns at a clip of 5.3 yards per carry — fourth in the NFL.

Warren forced 0.35 missed tackles per attempt, the highest rate in the NFL, and his 56 total missed tackles forced ranked seventh.

20. D’Andre Swift, Chicago Bears

Swift crossed the 1,000-yard landmark in his fourth NFL season in 2023. After three years with the Lions, Swift was traded to the Eagles and earned a 66.7 grade while rushing for 1,049 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games. His pass-catching ability wasn’t as well utilized as it had been in Detroit, but Swift still caught 39 passes for 214 yards.

Swift led all running backs in the percentage of his yards to come before contact (47.4%), an indicator of how good the Eagles' offensive line is, but also of his burst. Now with the Bears, he’ll look to build on his career year in Chicago.

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21. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Kamara has never rushed for 1,000 yards in his seven NFL seasons, but he has comfortably surpassed 1,100 scrimmage yards every year. In 2023, he rushed for 694 yards — a career low — but added 75 catches for 466 yards and six total touchdowns in just 12 games.

He’s still an important cog in the Saints' offense, especially as a receiving back, but he’ll be 29 by the time the 2024 season begins. That early-career juice could no longer be.

22. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris continued his streak of rushing for over 1,000 yards each season, and while he averaged just 4.1 yards per carry, it was a career high for the former first-round pick. His 78.1 grade, which ranked 15th among running backs, was also a career-best mark.

As Harris’ workload has dropped, his efficiency has risen. He averaged more yards after contact per attempt, more missed tackles forced per attempt and more explosive runs per game than ever before.

23. David Montgomery, Detroit Lions

After two less efficient years in 2021 and 2022 with the Bears, Montgomery was back to his best with the Lions in 2023, carrying the ball 219 times for 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns. His 13 touchdowns and 4.6 yards per carry were both career highs, and Montgomery earned an 80.0 grade for his efforts.

The former Bear forged an excellent one-two punch with Jahmyr Gibbs and provided real relief between the tackles and as a goal-line back. Montgomery is just as shifty, too, averaging 3.05 yards after contact per attempt and forcing 48 missed tackles — the second-highest number of his career.

24. James Cook, Buffalo Bills

James Cook excelled in his second NFL season, finally giving the Buffalo Bills a credible rushing attack. Cook finished fourth in total rushing yards in 2023, rushing for 1,122 yards at a 4.7 yards-per-carry clip and scoring twice while earning a 71.8 grade.

His yards after contact per attempt number was lower than his rookie season, but Cook forced more missed tackles, had more explosive runs and racked up more catches and receiving yards.

25. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

Stevenson’s ranking might ruffle some feathers, but the former fourth-round pick has impressed in his three NFL seasons and earned a 71.3 grade in 2023. The lack of consistent touches slowed his production, but Stevenson racked up 619 rushing yards and four touchdowns behind a bad Patriots offensive line.

His workload has been slowly increasing since his rookie season, but a new head coach could provide more work for one of the more underrated running backs in the NFL.

26. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

White doubled his total yards from scrimmage from 771 yards to 1,539 in 2023, but his efficiency on the ground dropped to 3.6 yards per attempt. Despite that, White was a big factor in the Buccaneers' offense, earning a 67.6 grade.

Like Cook, the second-year pro made an impact in the passing game, catching 64 passes for 549 yards, and will continue to be a primary facet of the Buccaneers' offense.

27. Joe Mixon, Houston Texans

Mixon spent seven years with the Cincinnati Bengals before joining the Houston Texans in the offseason via trade. In his final season in Cincinnati, Mixon carried the ball 257 times for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns, earning a 71.1 grade.

The former Oklahoma Sooner played his most snaps since his second year in the NFL, without a real presence outside of him in the running back room. And he remained a credible threat as a pass-catcher, too, hauling in 52 passes. His efficiency could bounce back behind a strong Texans offensive line in 2024.

Click here to see Joe Mixon's PFF Premium Stats profile.

28. Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers

Like Singletary, Hubbard was destined to be the backup in Carolina after the team brought in Miles Sanders on a big contract, but Hubbard took on the role of lead back after Sanders struggled to make an impact.

He carried the ball 238 times for a career-high 902 yards and five touchdowns while earning a strong 77.2 grade. Whether or not Hubbard is the starter in 2024 remains to be seen, but his 2023 performance should give him the nod ahead of Sanders.

29. Austin Ekeler, Washington Commanders

Ekeler has been a curious case at running back. He has yet to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in his career, but his proficiency as a touchdown scorer is undeniable. Ekeler led the NFL in total touchdowns in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, scoring 38 total touchdowns in that time — more than any other skill player.

However, his overall performance dipped across the board in 2023. Ekeler earned a 60.2 grade and rushed for 628 yards and five touchdowns while averaging just 3.5 yards per carry.

30. Devin Singletary, New York Giants

Singletary was intended to be the backup for Dameon Pierce, but a fine run of performances, as well as disappointing ones from Pierce, saw the former Bills running back jump up the depth chart and not look back. Singletary carried the ball a career-high 216 times for 898 yards and four touchdowns while earning a 70.8 grade.

His 23 explosive runs tied for 13th in the NFL, and he was top 20 in yards after contact, too. ultimately will be the starting running back for the Giants in 2024.

31. Gus Edwards, Los Angeles Chargers

The Gus Bus drives on down to Los Angeles, as Gus Edwards is now a Charger. Edwards had a career year in 2023, rushing for 810 yards and 13 touchdowns while earning a 72.3 grade. His yards per attempt dropped to below 5.0 yards per carry for the first time in his career, but Edwards still made a positive impact on the Ravens' rushing attack.

The task will now be carrying that over to a Chargers offense that has struggled to run the ball in recent years prior to Jim Harbaugh's arrival. He's not a big-play threat, but Edwards is an efficient chain-mover.

32. Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders

White stepped into the Raiders' starting role in four games in 2023 after a quiet rookie season and carried the ball 104 times for 451 yards and a touchdown. In his four games as a starter, he was even more effective, carrying the ball at a 4.73 yards-per-carry clip. That led to a promising 71.7 grade.

White’s body of work is a little unknown at the NFL level, but maybe that can work to his advantage in 2024. However, he’ll have his work cut out for him behind a mixed-bag Las Vegas offensive line. White averaged 3.21 yards after contact per attempt in 2023, 13th in the NFL.


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