Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

Shemon & Sheppard – In The Afternoon

Who are the top 10 running backs in the NFL? Running backs are in the news right now for all of the wrong reasons. Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs are skipping training camp due to their unhappiness with being tagged. They were two of the four leading rushers in the league last season. The running back market is a strange one. Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey reset the market in the 2020 offseason, and nobody has topped their deals yet. And for a position where the longevity gets talked about a lot, McCaffrey is still on of the top 10 running backs in the NFL. That kind of spits in the face of those who say running backs shelf life doesn’t go beyond the first contract.

There is little doubt how NFL GMs view running backs and their longevity in the league. The franchise tag number has fallen from 2020, when it was $10.28 million, to today where the franchise tag is $10.1 million. Running backs are starting to stand together. They’ve met via zoom and set up a text message thread so they can communicate and come up with ideas how to fix the situation. I don’t know how that happens, but at least they are trying to do something. General Managers can devalue the position all they want. There is still a place in the game for an elite running back. But what makes a great running back in 2023? The position is called running back, so running the ball matters. So obviously the few “bell cow” backs in the league get a nod. Even if they don’t bring a ton to the passing game. But it today’s NFL being a pass catcher and blocker in the passing game is key to staying on the field.

  • 10. Rhamondre Stephenson (New England Patriots)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Rhamondre Stephenson

    (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    For the first time in career Rhamondre Stephenson should be the feature back with the Patriots, who lost Damien Harris to the Bills. Last season Stephenson had an impressive 5.0 yards per rushing attempt, which was 5th in the league among running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts. Stephenson has had a role in the passing game since coming into the league. He was 4th in running back receiving yards last year.

  • 9. Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Aaron Jones

    (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    Aaron Jones was only one of three running backs to rank in the top-10 of rushing and receiving yards. His rushing touchdown number suffered last season with the emergence of AJ Dillion, who had 7 rushing touchdown compared to Jones’ 2. However Jones found the end zone 5 times in the passing game last season.

  • 8. Tony Pollard (Dallas Cowboys)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Tony Pollard

    (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

    Tony Pollard was hampered in 2022 having to share the backfield with Ezekiel Elliot. Even though Pollard got 1,000 rushing yards, he was out touched in the running game 231 to 193 by Zeke, even though he averaged 5.2 yards per attempt compared to Elliot’s 3.8 ypc. He was a top-10 receiver at the position in 2022. Hopefully he is fully healed and ready to show the league what he can do when the feature back in a good offense.

  • 7. Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Jonathan Taylor

    (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    The stats aren’t there from last season for Taylor to be on this list going into 2023. His season was marred by injuries that caused him to miss 6 games last year. He still averaged 4.5 ypc in an offense with little around him to take some pressure away. In 2021 he led the league with 1,811 rushing yards at 18 rushing touchdowns. I don’t think he just fell off a cliff. He is still a really good back that can stay on the field for all 3 downs.

  • 6. Austin Ekeler (Los Angeles Chargers)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Austin Ekeler

    (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

    Ekeler is the complete back NFL teams are looking for in 2023. He is just as dangerous in the passing game as the running game, and has shown an ability to stay on the field throughout his career. Austin Ekeler has missed a total of 6 games in his 6 year career. He was second among running backs with 722 receiving yards last season, and has averaged over 4.5 ypc in 5 of his 6 seasons. I’m glad he got a contract that was palatable from the Chargers.

  • 5. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Saquon Barkley

    (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)

    We finally saw Barkley regain his form after a down couple of seasons with one significant injury. Last year Barkley was 4th in the league in rushing, and the catalyst for a playoff bound offense. Who know if we will see him on the field in 2023. I think the Giants made a mistake paying Daniel Jones and letting Barkley wait in the wind.

  • 4. Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Derrick Henry

    (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

    He is still the hardest back in the league to bring down. Especially when he gets a full head of steam. Last year Henry was second in rushing yards and 6th in receiving yards among running backs. Henry has finished in the top-10 in rushing yards every year he has been in the league, and that includes 2021 when he played in just 8 games. He might be losing a bit of his first step and the explosiveness, but he is still a top back in the league.

  • 3. Nick Chubb (Cleveland Browns)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Nick Chubb

    (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

    For my money he is the best pure running back in the league right now. He rushed for over 1,500 yards last season- the first time in his career. Chubb has averaged at least 5.0 ypc in all 5 of his NFL seasons. He doesn’t do a ton in the passing game, but now that Kareen hunt is out of the picture, those stats may get better.

  • 2. Christian McCaffrey (San Francisco 49ers)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Christian McCaffery

    (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    This has less to do with McCaffrey, and more to do with the guy at #1 and the season he had in 2022. Last year we saw McCaffrey in an explosive offense for the first in his career. He was top 10 in receiving and rushing among running backs, and had 11 total touchdowns (6 rushing, 4 receiving, and 1 passing). he could very easily be back on top of this list after the 2023 season.

  • 1. Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

    Top 10 Running Backs in the NFL Josh Jacobs

    (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    Josh Jacobs was the best running back in the league when the 2022 season ended. He led the league with 1,653 rushing yards, was second in the league with 12 rushing touchdowns, and was the only back to account for 2,000 or more yards. I hope we get to see him on the field in 2023, but the running back position needs a reset, and Jacobs holding out for the whole year could give it the jolt it needs.

Sign me up for the ESPN Southwest Florida email newsletter!

You love listening to ESPN Southwest Florida, now make sure you’re getting all the extra perks. Sign up today to be an ESPN Southwest Florida Insider!

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.