NFL Running Back Rankings 2024: Isiah Pacheco Rises, Austin Ekeler Plummets

With the 2024 offseason fully underway, it's time to update our NFL running back rankings. Christian McCaffrey is still No. 1, but who's after him?

The NFL running back landscape might vary more wildly from year to year than that of any other position group in the league. One season a player looks like a rising star; the next he barely sees the field. Dameon Pierce comes to mind, as does Cam Akers.

Nevertheless, with the 2023 season behind us, and the 2024 offseason well underway, it’s time to update our NFL running back rankings.

Who’s the Best Running Back in the NFL?

Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

McCaffrey isn’t the greatest blocker, but he more than makes up for it when he has the ball in his hands. An electrifying talent, McCaffrey last season racked up 1,459 rushing yards and 564 receiving yards while posting 21 all-purpose touchdowns.

Injuries once were a major concern for McCaffrey, but he’s missed just one game since joining the Niners midway through last season. If he can stay healthy, the 27-year-old shouldn’t experience any dropoff in 2024.

NFL Running Back Rankings (2-20)

2) Derrick Henry, Baltimore Ravens

Would you pick Henry as your running back if you were starting a new team? Probably not. He’s 30 years old, and he led the NFL in carries in four of the last five seasons. there’s a lot of tread on those tires.

But ask yourself this: If you need one running back for one drive, either to take the lead or to run out the clock, who are you taking? Henry, still physically imposing, might be the pick. It’s not a stretch to say that Henry might be enough to get the Ravens over the hump and back into the Super Bowl.

3) Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

This is where running back rankings get tough. You hold injuries against some players, but make exceptions for others. It’s unfair.

Exhibit A: Chubb, who tore an ACL in college and tore three ligaments during a game last season. There’s every reason to wonder whether he’ll be the same player in 2024, especially when you consider he’ll turn 29 in December.

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However, he simply is too good. When healthy, Chubb probably is the second-best running back in football, and you could make a case for him being the best. So, he gets the No. 3 spot, even though we don’t feel great about it.

4) Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Robinson didn’t set the world on fire during his rookie campaign, as running lines were hard to come by in Atlanta’s middling offense. Still, by the end of the season, it was easy to dream big about what Robinson might do in Year 2.

He finished 2023 with 976 rushing yards to go along with 58 catches for 487 yards. With Kirk Cousins now running the offense, expect those numbers to increase in 2024.

5) Saquon Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles

Should the Eagles have given Barkey $26 million guaranteed in free agency? Probably not. Paying running backs is bad business in the NFL, especially those with lengthy injury histories.

But Barkley is a rare breed. He’s good for at least a few missed games per season, but he never misses a beat once he returns to the field. And he deserves credit for posting great numbers throughout his career despite usually playing in a bad Giants offense.

He’s a perfect fit for the Eagles, and a career season could be in store.

6) Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Taylor was an emerging superstar through two seasons, but injuries limited his production in 2022 and 2023, as did a contract dispute with the Colts. Will we ever get another glimpse of the player who led the NFL with 1,811 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in 2021?

Our vote is “yes,” even if Taylor might never match that absurd production. Still just 25 years old, he’s under contract and primed for a major bounce-back season.

7) De’Von Achane, Miami Dolphins

This might be too high for Achane, considering we punish some other running backs for small sample sizes. But 7.8 yards per carry is 7.8 yards per carry, and Achane was flat-out incredible when he was healthy last season.

Blending real track speed with a surprisingly well-rounded game, Achane looked like one of the NFL’s best young running backs. Expect big things in 2024

8) Breece Hall, New York Jets

Hall tore his ACL as a rookie in 2022, but you wouldn’t have known it by watching him play in 2023.

Playing a full 17 games, Hall posted 994 rushing yards and five scores to go along with a whopping 76 catches for 591 yards and four scores. He’s a true bell-cow running back, and he easily could rank top-five on this list a year from now.

9) Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

The NFL’s angriest running back, Pacheco runs like he has a blood feud with the turf. He’s not the most explosive back in football, nor is he all that productive as a pass-catcher, but Pacheco is a physical, chain-moving back who’s an ideal fit in the Chiefs offense.

10) Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Kamara missed the first three games due to a suspension and was inactive in the season finale, but he still finished with 694 rushing yards to go along with 75 catches for 466 yards and a touchdown. He looked like his usual, shifty self, showing no signs of slowing down despite nearing his 29th birthday.

That said, Kamara’s hold on a top-10 spot is tenuous, at best. A regression in 2024 wouldn’t be a surprise.

11) Josh Jacobs, Green Bay Packers

The league’s leading rusher in 2022, Jacobs looked a bit out of shape early last season after ending his contract holdout. He lacked the burst and big-play ability that made him so successful the previous season.

However, Jacobs rounded into form as the season progressed, ultimately finishing with 805 rushing yards to go along with 37 catches for 296 yards in 13 games. Now with the Packers, Jacobs still is just 26 years old and is primed for a strong season with his new team.

12) Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams

Williams was excellent when healthy last season, coming out of nowhere to post 1,144 yards and 12 scores in 12 games after registering just 139 yards as a rookie in 2022. But we want to see more, as Williams ran a bit hot and cold before consistently dominating late in the season.

If Williams picks up where he left off, we might be talking about one of the five best running backs in football.

13) Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

Mostert probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves after leading the NFL with 18 touchdowns while rushing for 1,012 yards. Perhaps that’s because Achane looked that good, or maybe it’s because both players are viewed as products of Mike McDaniel’s system.

Regardless, we believe Mostert, with all his speed, is a very good back who might be headed for another big season.

14) Aaron Jones, Minnesota Vikings

Jones is seemingly always banged up. He’s missed multiple games in five of his 11 seasons, including six in 2023. He’ll also turn 30 in December and is entering the back nine of his career. You can’t blame the Packers for cutting Jones and upgrading to Jacobs.

But that doesn’t mean Jones isn’t a good player. His numbers were solid last season, and he topped 100 yards in both of Green Bay’s playoff games. Jones still has something left in the tank, but how much?

15) Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

Walker appeared primed for a big season in 2023 after excelling as a rookie in 2022. But injuries and an iffy offensive line limited his production, as Walker finished with fewer carries, yards, and touchdowns as a sophomore.

His talent remains clear, though, and he could be headed for a breakout campaign.

16) James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

Perpetually underrated, Conner is one of the better backs in football. He can run, catch, and block at a high level. He’s also tough and is viewed as a locker-room leader.

Conner missed four games last season, but he arguably enjoyed his best campaign from an efficiency standpoint. He posted career-bests in yards per attempt and yards per game while finishing with a career-high 1,040 yards. Conner’s a good running back, but he isn’t great.

17) Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions

A total liability in blitz pickup, Gibbs has some work to do to smooth out the rougher edges of his game. But the potential is immense.

After a relatively cold start to his rookie season, Gibbs was on a 1,184-yard, 15-touchdown pace over his final 11 contests. His combination of speed, vision, and receiving ability make it easy to view Gibbs as a future star.

18) Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

The Patriots offense was wretched the last two seasons, but where would it have been without Stevenson?

Tough, deceptively fast, and improved as a pass-catcher, Stevenson has emerged as one of the better all-around backs in the league. He also showed significant improvement with his blitz pickup in 2023.

Durability isn’t a concern; however, Stevenson wore down late in the last two seasons after handling huge workloads. If he can stay healthy, Stevenson can establish himself as a borderline top-10 back.

19) D’Andre Swift, Chicago Bears

Swift was the first player off the board in NFL free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $24 million deal with the Bears. Kudos to him for cashing in after a career season. Time is everything in the NFL.

But is Swift worth it? It’s debatable. He disappointed his first three seasons with the Lions but broke out for the Eagles in 2023 while posting 1,049 rushing yards and 39 catches. Was he a product of a product of Philly’s system, or was that the real Swift? The answer probably is somewhere in the middle.

20) Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars

Another player who could soar up these rankings over the next year, Etienne posted over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons while racking up a combined 93 catches.

The question remains: How much better can he be? It feels like Etienne already has neared his peak, which isn’t an insult. He’s a legitimate franchise running back, but Etienne might not be a star.

21) James Cook, Buffalo Bills

Another speedy back who struggles to pick up a blitz, Cook was a breakout star in the second half of last season. He averaged 107 all-purpose yards over the final eight games while establishing himself as one of the top weapons in the Bills offense.

However, Cook is the classic example of a player who might be better in fantasy football than he is in real life. The production is real, but he’s not great between the tackles and his blocking needs work.

22) David Montgomery, Detroit Lions

His backfield mate has a higher ceiling, but Montgomery is a quality back in his own right. Tough as nails and effective in the red zone, Montgomery posted 1,015 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first season with the Lions.

Gibbs fantasy owners won’t like it, but Montgomery isn’t going anywhere.

23) Tony Pollard, Tennessee Titans

Pollard’s debut as the No. 1 back with the Dallas Cowboys didn’t go as expected. Yes, he finished with 1,005 rushing yards and 311 receiving yards, but his efficiency plummeted.

Now with the Titans, Pollard likely will split carries with Tyjae Spears in 2024.

24) Joe Mixon, Houston Texans

Never a particularly efficient back, Mixon still finished 2023 with over 1,000 rushing yards for the fourth time in seven seasons. He also topped 50 catches for the second consecutive season.

But it wasn’t enough to prevent his departure from the Cincinnati Bengals, who traded the 27-year-old to the Houston Texans earlier this month.

25) Brian Robinson, Washington Commanders

Robinson showed a ton of promise during his first two seasons, but he’s yet to truly break out. Six combined fumbles were an issue, as was his limited ability as a pass-catcher.

Robinson should be Washington’s feature back in 2024, and there’s a good chance he will top 800 rushing yards for the first time. But he will split time with Austin Ekeler, who signed with the Commanders on a two-year deal.

26) Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

White’s first season as the feature back in Tampa largely was a success. He finished with 990 yards and six touchdowns to go along with 64 catches for 549 yards and three scores.

But the 3.6 yards per carry weren’t good, nor was his performance in pass protection. White’s talented, but he still has a lot to prove.

27) Austin Ekeler, Washington Commanders

Is Ekeler washed up?

Ekeler’s final season with the Los Angeles Chargers saw a career-worst 3.5 yards per carry and his lowest receptions total since 2018. He still can make plays, but his best days are behind him.

28) Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers

Najee Harris is the bigger name, but Warren is the better back. He’s more efficient, and he’s better as a pass catcher. Really, the only thing Harris has on Warren is superior performance in pass protection.

Warren finished his second season with 784 rushing yards and four touchowns to go along with 61 catches for 370 yards.

29) Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

He just isn’t that good. Harris’ numbers always have been a product of volume, rather than efficiency. In his three seasons as a pro, Harris posted yards-per-carry totals of 3.9, 3.8, and 4.1 respectively. At this point, Harris is who he is: a solid, durable back with a high floor but a low ceiling.

30) Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Allgeier is a backup in Atlanta, but he could be a lead back for other teams.

The second-year pro finished 2023 with 683 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 18 catches for 193 yards with a score. He also earned Pro Football Focus’ highest pass-blocking grade among all running backs.

31) Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers

Hubbard was supposed to be Miles Sanders’ backup, but he earned the role of Carolina’s lead back in October. The numbers don’t jump off the page, but Hubbard still racked up 905 yards and five trips to the end zone, plus 39 catches for 233 yards. He’s a solid player.

32) Devin Singletary, New York Giants

Someone forgot to tell Singletary that Pierce was the primary back in Houston. After four solid seasons with the Bills, Singletary joined the Texans and posted a career-high 898 rushing yards. He signed with the Giants in free agency and appears primed to fill Barkley’s shoes as the top back in New York.

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