The NFL is loaded with talented running backs right now. In fact, most teams have at least one running back they feel really good about, if not two.
This is one of the best times in NFL history in terms of talent and depth at the running back position. But who are the best running backs right now in the league?
Here is our top 50 list of the 2021 season.
Do note that players who have not played this season (J.K. Dobbins, Cam Akers, Travis Etienne, Gus Edwards, etc) were not ranked.
All NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of Wednesday, November 24 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
NFL Running Back Power Rankings
50. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
Brandon Bolden has been with the Patriots since 2012 because of what he can do on special teams. However, he is well-rounded enough as a runner to be productive when called upon.
49. Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles
Kenneth Gainwell will probably never be a lead back in the NFL. However, he can be an excellent role player in the right offense.
48. Boston Scott, Philadelphia Eagles
Boston Scott does everything at an adequate level, including playing special teams. He is the perfect No. 3 running back in today’s NFL, considering he can fill multiple roles on game day.
47. Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins
Myles Gaskin has been the starter for Miami over the last two years, where he has been fairly productive. However, he hasn’t done enough to be viewed as anything more than a replacement-level back.
46. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
“CEH" has been a major disappointment as a first-round pick. He’s a replacement-level player who only gets touches because of his draft capital.
45. Darrel Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
Whenever Darrel Williams plays, he is productive. He isn’t explosive by any means, but he’s a tough inside runner who can make plays in the passing game when needed.
44. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings
Alexander Mattison can be a productive runner in the right scheme, but he lacks the overall speed and quickness to be a real difference-maker.
43. Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As a pure runner, Ronald Jones should rank much higher than this. But his fumbling issues — combined with his drops in the passing game — make him just a replacement-level back.
42. Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
Devin Singletary is small, slow and not very explosive. However, he can make defenders miss at a very high rate. Overall, he’s fine as a part-time player in an offense that doesn’t need to run the ball a lot.
41. Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders
Kenyan Drake is still incredibly fast, but that’s one of his only positive traits. If his blockers have success, he can have some too. Otherwise, he doesn’t offer much else.
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40. Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons
Finding tough, inside runners can be difficult in today’s NFL, but Mike Davis can still do that at a fairly high level. With that said, he isn’t very versatile, and his days as a lead-back are probably over.
39. Alex Collins, Seattle Seahawks
Alex Collins has stuck around the NFL for several years now due to his no-nonsense style of running. He gets downhill quickly and rarely goes down on first contact, making him a valuable asset for Seattle.
38. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
Rhamondre Stevenson is a perfect fit in New England as a north-south style runner in the mold of LeGarrette Blount. He’s a better receiver than Blount and might be even more dynamic in the open field.
37. Michael Carter, New York Jets
For a Day 3 rookie, Michael Carter has been fairly productive for the Jets. He’ll never be a full-time back, but he is a dynamic receiver who can beat linebackers in space with ease.
36. Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills
Zack Moss is a lot like early-career Alex Collins. He runs hard, and with his size, he can be devastating in short-yardage situations and against light boxes.
His lack of speed and quickness will prevent him from ever being an elite back, but he has been a productive player so far in Buffalo.
35. D’Ernest Johnson, Cleveland Browns
While he doesn’t have elite speed, D’Ernest Johnson possesses all of the other traits to be a quality NFL back. His vision and balance make him a perfect fit in a zone-blocking scheme.
Johnson has quickly established himself as one of the best No. 3 running backs in the NFL.
34. Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
Elijah Mitchell was a seventh-round pick by the 49ers this year, but you can already see that he is going to be in the NFL for a long time. His speed and quickness make him a great fit in Kyle Shanahan‘s offense, and he should get his starting job back as soon as he recovers from his finger injury.
33. J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team
After not playing much in the first three years of his career, J.D. McKissic has carved out a nice role in the NFL. He’s caught 118 passes over the last 26 games for Washington, averaging 8.1 yards per reception.
32. James White, New England Patriots
James White was injured early in the year and will miss the rest of the season. However, he might be the best passing-down specialist in the NFL.
From 2015 to 2021, he’s caught 376 passes for 3,255 yards and 25 touchdowns. You can make a strong case he deserves to be even higher on this list considering how good he is in the passing game.
31. Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears
When David Montgomery was lost due to injury, Khalil Herbert showed well as a starter. In his two starts, he rushed for 197 yards and added another 48 in the passing game. Despite not playing behind a great offensive line, he’s found a way to be productive.
The Bears would be wise to get him some more touches even with Montgomery back in the lineup.
30. Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals wanted Chase Edmonds to be the full-time back this season, but James Conner (more on him later) proved to be too good to keep off the field.
Edmonds hasn’t been healthy much this season, but he’s still been productive. He’s at his best when gets 10-15 touches per game, mostly in the open field.
29. Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
It’s hard to believe this is already Melvin Gordon‘s seventh season in the NFL, but he continues to be a productive back. He’s started all 10 games for the Broncos this season, averaging 4.9 yards per touch.
He’s not quite as explosive as he was earlier in this career, but he is still a fine starter.
28. Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
Whenever the Eagles give Miles Sanders touches, he produces. It’s frustrating to see them ignore him from time to time, because he has the athleticism and skill to be one of the league’s better backs.
27. Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team
Antonio Gibson is one of the league’s most talented running backs, but he is still learning the position. He is a former receiver who is only in his second year as a pure running back.
Expect him to climb up these rankings over the next 12 months.
26. James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
James Robinson is one of the more underrated players in the NFL. While he isn’t flashy or explosive, he is productive. He runs so hard and isn’t afraid of getting into loaded boxes.
In a better situation with a more creative offensive play-caller, Robinson might be a Pro Bowl back.
25. Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If your offense needs a hammer, look no further than Leonard Fournette. He’s found a perfect role in Tampa Bay as a physical inside runner who can also catch passes out of the backfield, as needed.
His style of running translates well to the playoffs as he can wear down defenses with his speed and power.
24. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
The ability has never been a question for James Conner. Anytime he’s healthy, he’s been productive. He’s a three-down back who excels near the end zone and has a knack for scoring touchdowns.
Betting Tip: As of this writing, Conner sits just one rushing touchdown back from Jonathan Taylor, the current leader in this category. In such a close race, Conner is a good value at (+160).
23. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
It’s really unfortunate that Nyheim Hines is on a team with arguably the best running back in the NFL. Hines is one of the best receivers in the league, and his speed and quickness in the run game make him a threat to score whenever he touches the ball.
He just signed a contract extension with the Colts, so he’ll likely never be a lead-back. However, he is far overqualified to be just a scat-back in Indianapolis.
22. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
Javonte Williams is still in a timeshare with Melvin Gordon, but his time is coming. He has the desired combination of speed, power and vision to be a star in the NFL. During his rookie season, he’s averaged 5.0 yards per carry and has multiple runs over 20 yards.
It’s time for the Broncos to start giving him more carries. He’s clearly earned them.
21. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers
A.J. Dillon has a lot of physical similarities to Derrick Henry, but he is an even better receiver. He needs to become a more patient runner, but he’s got the talent to be a top-10 running back in the NFL.
20. Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams
Darrell Henderson has been the full-time starter this year in Los Angeles, and he’s done well with the role. His speed and quickness make him a great fit in a wide-zone scheme that gives him a lot of room to operate.
19. Damien Harris, New England Patriots
The Patriots don’t ask Damien Harris to do much in the passing game, but he is a dominant inside runner. He is so good at pressing holes and making the right read in New England’s offense.
Harris isn’t flashy, but he is a highly effective back that doesn’t get enough attention.
18. David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
If David Montgomery had elite speed, he would be a top-five back on our list. He has all of the other traits of an elite running back.
He’s very difficult to bring down on first contact and has no problem making plays in the passing game, as well.
17. Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons
It might not be fair to label Cordarrelle Patterson as a running back, but that’s what the Falcons are calling him, so we’ll roll with it.
It took a team several years to figure out how to use him, but he is one of the most explosive and dynamic players in the NFL. While he still needs to learn how to run inside and be a better blocker, he’s difficult to stop in the open field.
16. D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
We knew D’Andre Swift was a talented receiver coming out of college, but now he is showing everyone that he can be a workhorse back. Over the last two weeks, he’s carried the rock 47 times for 266 yards and one score.
The Lions should make it a priority to get him the ball at least 20 times per game. He is clearly their most talented player on offense.
15. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Unfortunately, we’ve probably already seen the peak of Saquon Barkley‘s career.
After multiple lower-leg injuries, Barkley just doesn’t have the same quickness or explosion that made him the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He can still be a productive player, but the days of him being a 2,000-yard player — like he was as a rookie — are over.
14. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
When Josh Jacobs is healthy, he is one of the best running backs in the league. He has a great combination of power, quickness and the ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
However, he’s struggled to stay on the field over the last few years. Because of his health, the Raiders have started to limit his touches each week, which is unfortunate because he’s one of the few players in the NFL that gets stronger and more difficult to stop with more touches.
13. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Najee Harris is an every-down back who can handle 25 touches every week. However, his lack of speed and quickness limits his ceiling some.
The arrow is still pointing up on Harris, but he’s probably never going to be viewed as a player in the same tier as Jonathan Taylor or Nick Chubb due to his lack of home-run speed.
Betting Tip: Caesars currently has Harris at (+1400) odds to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. It’ll be tough for him to beat out Mac Jones and Ja’Marr Chase, but anything can happen.
12. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
Tony Pollard is one of the most underrated running backs in the NFL. Stuck behind Ezekiel Elliott over the last three seasons, all Pollard has done is produce when given chances.
He is one of the best home-run hitters in the league and is fantastic at making defenders miss in the open field. He, along with Kareem Hunt, are the two best No. 2 running backs in the league.
11. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
The Packers have never fully leaned into Aaron Jones as the workhorse back, but he’s still found a way to be one of the league’s most productive runners. He’s a perfect fit with Aaron Rodgers since he can be flexed out to the slot and make plays as a receiver.
10. Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
Kareem Hunt is overqualified to be a complementary back in the NFL, but that’s his current situation in Cleveland. He’s a dynamic receiver who can also hit big plays in the run game.
He and Nick Chubb are the best 1-2 duo in the league right now.
9. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
A few years ago, Ezekiel Elliott would have been at the very top of this list. However, that’s no longer the case.
It’s clear all of the previous touches have started to have an impact on him. He’s still a tough inside runner and an excellent blocker, but he just doesn’t have the explosiveness anymore to be an elite back.
8. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
There is nothing that Joe Mixon can’t do. He’s the complete package and he can carry a full workload like he did on Sunday against the Raiders.
Health has been the only issue for Mixon in the past, but he is on pace to total nearly 1,600 yards and score close to 20 touchdowns this season.
7. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
Dalvin Cook hasn’t been quite as good or explosive this year as he’s been in the past, but he is still one of the better pure runners in the NFL. His quickness combined with his balance make him one of the league’s best wide-zone runners.
6. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler has always been one of the league’s most efficient backs, but it’s great to see him finally get the volume of a featured runner. He’s averaging nearly six yards per touch this season and you can make a case the Chargers still don’t use him enough.
Ekeler remains one of the NFL’s most underrated players.
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
Unfortunately for Alvin Kamara, this has been a season in which he’s never been healthy. He’s missed the last two games and likely won’t play on Thanksgiving night, either.
When he’s healthy, he is one of the most dynamic runners and receivers in the NFL.
4. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Nick Chubb has missed a considerable amount of time with injuries over the last two years, but there isn’t a better zone runner in the NFL. Nobody can bring him down on first contact and his speed in the open field makes him almost impossible to stop.
3. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey has missed a lot of time over the last two seasons, but he is still an incredibly talented player and one of the best receiving running backs in NFL history.
It is worth noting that in the last 16 games that he’s played, he’s totaled over 2,100 yards and 13 touchdowns.
2. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Taylor is the perfect modern-day running back. He is big, fast, and can run with power. He’s also improving as a receiver and has been the most explosive running back in the NFL through Week 11.
Over his last eight games, he’s totaled 1,203 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Not too bad.
Betting Tip: Jonathan Taylor currently leads the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns on the year. He does have some stiff competition in James Conner and Joe Mixon, but there’s no reason why Taylor can’t finish the season as the league leader in this category. Make this your NFL bet of the day.
1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
Before his foot injury, Derrick Henry was on pace to rush for over 2,000 yards once again. He’ll likely miss the rest of the 2021 season, but should be back for the playoffs.
When he is healthy, he is the clear-cut top running back in the NFL. No one else has his combination of size, power, and long speed.