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Best NFL RBs In 2024

Author

Sadonna Price

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

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As NFL offenses continue to evolve, so do the requirements and expectations of today’s NFL running back.

For decades, NFL RBs were expected to carry the ball 20+ times a game, often straight ahead, right between the tackles.

But the league has now developed into a passing-dominated game.

Teams will use a short aerial attack, including wide receiver screens and swing passes out of the backfield when previously they would hand it off.

Expectations on running backs to catch the ball are far greater today than they ever have been.

Players like Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Najee Harris, and many others are capable of 50, 60, or even more receptions in a single season.

We no longer look at just an RB’s rushing yards to gauge their effectiveness.

Rushing yards, receiving yards, and total yards from scrimmage are all key stats for ranking the NFL’s best running backs.

Betting On NFL Running Backs

Sportsbooks today provide many options for betting on NFL running backs.

Season-long futures bets predict which player will have the most rushing yards and most rushing TDs, or you can find bets determining which RB will have the most yards from scrimmage. (Rushing + Receiving)

Player prop bets will allow bettors to wager on an RB’s season total for rushing yards or individual game rushing yards.

One of the most popular prop bets of the NFL season is for a player to score an anytime touchdown.

Running backs will combine to score many touchdowns this year and make an intriguing betting option each week.

The most popular futures bet for NFL running backs is always trying to determine who will lead the league in rushing yards at the end of the season.

RBs are asked to do a lot of different things. But ultimately, we still want to judge them on their ability to run the rock.

Best NFL Running Backs For 2023

Nick Chubb +390 – CLE Browns

Last year, Nick Chubb played all 17 regular season games and reached 300 carries for the first time since 2019. (298 in 2019).

There is no doubt that when Chubb gets 300 carries in a season, he will be at or near the very top of the leaders in total rushing yards.

Chubb finished with 1,525 rushing yards last year, good for third overall in the league, behind Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry.

However, the Browns running back led the group in yards per carry, with Jacobs a very close second.

Player2022 Rushing YardsYards Per Carry
Josh Jacobs1,6534.9
Derrick Henry1,5384.4
Nick Chubb1,5255.0

Derrick Henry +600 – TEN Titans

Since 2018, Derrick Henry has managed to get at least 200 carries in a season, and usually a whole lot more.

Derrick Henry, Since 2018

YearGames PlayedTotal Carries
201816215
201915303
202016378
20218219
202216349

Despite missing nine regular season games in 2021, Henry has still carried the ball 946 times in the last three regular seasons.

We would be concerned about that type of workload for most running backs – but this is Derrick Henry.

Understanding the Titans landed De’Andre Hopkins this past off-season, King Henry is still the focal point of this offense.

Henry will once again get a lot of carries in 2023.

Bijan Robinson +750 – ATL Falcons

Bijan Robinson received a lot of preseason hype because he was labeled the best offensive player in this year’s NFL draft.

Not surprisingly, quarterbacks dominated the early part of the draft. And Robinson slid to the 8th overall pick, where the Falcons grabbed him.

Desmond Ridder is the Falcons QB this year, at least to start. Yes, Atlanta will run the ball a lot, which has bumped Bijan into one of the top three betting favorites to lead the league in rushing.

However, the Falcons have Tyler Allgeier already on their roster. Allgeier went for over 1,000 yards on just 210 carries last year in Atlanta.

The Falcons’ depth chart lists Robinson one and Allgeier two but doesn’t explain how they plan to divide the carries. 

This could be a case of a two-headed monster approach, which makes it challenging for the Falcons rookie to lead the league in rushing yards.

Josh Jacobs +1200 – LV Raiders

It just kind of feels a little disrespectful to have last year’s league leader in rushing yards listed behind a rookie, but here we are.

In 2021, Josh Jacobs played in 15 games, finishing with 872 rushing yards. The most important stat from a betting standpoint might be that Jacobs averaged 14 carries per game in 2021.

In 2022, on his way to 1,653 rushing yards, the former 24th overall pick in the 2019 draft averaged 20 carries per game.

Six carries a game might not seem like a significant number, but over a 17-game schedule, that equates to an extra 102 attempts in a season.

At 4.5 yards per carry, we just found an additional 450 rushing yards for Jacobs simply by giving him the ball a lot more.

Will Jacobs back up his league-leading 2022 season with another similar year in 2023? That will be fun to watch play out.

Saquon Barkley +1100 – NY Giants

As a rookie in 2018, Saquon Barkley played in all 16 games, averaged 5.0 yards per carry, and went over 1,300 rushing yards.

Barkley beat out Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield for NFL Rookie of the Year, and Giants fans everywhere fell in love with their new franchise RB.

Barkley wasn’t just good at running the ball. That same rookie season, the second-overall pick from Penn State had 91 receptions for over 700 yards.

For those counting at home, that is over 2,000 scrimmage yards in his rookie season.

NFL Football is hard. Getting tackled hundreds of times a season can take a severe physical toll. In 2020 and 2021, Barkley played just 15 games and combined for under 200 carries in those two years.

However, 2022 was a redemption season for the now 26-year-old RB. Barkley once again went over 1,300 yards rushing and surprised many experts by finishing fourth league-wide in total rushing yards.

Tony Pollard +1200 – DAL Cowboys

In 2016 and 2018, the Dallas Cowboys had arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott.

Tony Pollard has been very patient since arriving in Dallas in 2019 and splitting time with Cowboys legend Zeke.

Last year was the first time Pollard went over 1,000 yards rushing in a season despite not getting 200 carries.

With Zeke having landed in New England this year, Pollard’s numbers should look more like a featured back, not one splitting time.

If Pollard eclipsed 1,000 yards with fewer than 200 carries last year, what can we expect of him in 2023 when he should be up over 250 carries this year?

A lot of rushing yards is the answer to the rhetorical question above.

Jonathan Taylor +6500 – IND Colts (for now)

No “Top Running Backs” list is complete without mentioning Jonathan Taylor, despite JT and the Colts appearing headed for divorce court.

In his three seasons in the league,

Taylor has made it obvious that he is one of the league’s best when healthy. In 2023, JT appears healthy but not happy with his team, the Indianapolis Colts.

With Taylor not dressing for at least the early games on the Colts’ schedule, there is very little chance he gets enough touches to contend for the rushing title this year. 

However, JT is one of the most feared backs league-wide and deserves at least a mention on this list.

2022 NFL Rushing Yards Leaders

In 2022, Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry were the betting favorites to lead the league in rushing.

But Josh Jacobs surprised many, winning the rushing title by 115 yards over King Henry.

PlayerGames PlayedRushing YardsYards / Game
Josh Jacobs171,65397.2
Derrick Henry161,53896.1
Nick Chubb171,52589.7
Saquon Barkley161,31282.0
Miles Sanders171,26974.6

Jacobs and Henry have a big gap over the rest of the league from a Yards / Game standpoint.

Nick Chubb is a distant third, almost averaging 90 yards rushing per game.

2022 NFL Yards From Scrimmage Leaders

Offenses are constantly adapting.

Teams continuously look to create a mismatch and an advantage when they have the ball.

Today, RBs must be able to catch the ball, as well as their traditional RB duties. Offenses are built around teams using backs in multiple ways.

Players like Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler get 15-20 carries but are also targeted many times in their respective passing games.

PlayerGamesScrimmage YardsTeam
Josh Jacobs – RB172,053Raiders
Derrick Henry – RB161,936Titans
Christian McCaffrey – RB171,88049ers
Justin Jefferson – WR171,883Vikings
Nick Chubb – RB171,764Browns

Last 10 Running Backs To Lead NFL In Rushing

Names like Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott, Adrian Peterson, and others show us that the elite backs often lead the league in total rushing yards.

YearPlayerRushing YardsTeam
2022Josh Jacobs1,653Raiders
2021Jonathan Taylor1,811Colts
2020Derrick Henry2,027Titans
2019Derrick Henry1,540Titans
2018Ezekiel Elliott1,434Cowboys
2017Kareem Hunt1,327Chiefs
2016Ezekiel Elliott1,631Cowboys
2015Adrian Peterson1,485Vikings
2014DeMarco Murray1,845Cowboys

Only King Henry of the Titans has gone over 2,000 rushing yards in the last nine years in a single season. Henry did that in 2020 before the league expanded to 17 regular season games.

Always Shop Around

Spending time in the data science lab, crunching numbers, and playing with data can be a lot of fun and a big part of the enjoyment around sports betting.

However, even the sharpest bettors will tell you that shopping around for your Best Odds is a bettor’s biggest advantage over the sportsbooks.

2023 – Odds To Lead NFL In Rushing Yards

PlayerDraftKingsFanDuelCaesars
Nick Chubb+450+390+400
Derrick Henry+650+600+550
Bijan Robinson+1000+750+750
Jonathan Taylor+800+6500+5000
Saquon Barkley+1500+1100+1100

In our example above, we see some very interesting odds.

Jonathan Taylor was amongst the betting favorites when the odds were released for players to lead the league in rushing yards. 

However, Taylor and the Colts had a very rocky relationship during the off-season, which has led to the Colts RB not dressing, at least for the first few games.

FanDuel and Caesars reacted quickly and adjusted their Taylor odds accordingly. But we see an opportunity where DraftKings is slow to respond.

Taylor sitting out games and becoming less of a betting favorite means the odds on players like Henry, Robinson, Barkley, and others near the top of the odds board will be impacted. 

Derrick Henry has a far better chance of leading the league in rushing with JT sitting out instead of playing every game for the Colts.

In our example above, the opportunity for us as bettors to take advantage of DraftKings being slow to respond is that we can buy players like Barkley, Robinson, and Henry far better at DK than the true market price.

Anytime we can buy bets at a better price than what they should be, we have given ourselves the best opportunity to be a long-term profitable player.

Author

About the author

For almost two decades, Sadonna has remained at the forefront of the gambling industry in the US and abroad, covering the latest news and legal update...

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