If you were an NFL coach, which top NFL running backs in 2021 would you target for bettering your roster? Are you confused? Well, we’ve just made it easy for you as we will be discussing the Top 20 NFL running backs for 2021.
Some NFL running backs will always hold great value to any team in the league. No matter which team they land in, they will always seek a way to make a huge impact.
Top 20 NFL Running Backs for 2021
In today’s era, where offense attracts so much attention, people view running backs as heroes. From energetic receiving roles to setting up a good play, they do it all. So, we have dived into the statistical analysis and performance shown by running backs to present you with the top 20 NFL running backs for 2021.
The top 20 NFL running backs mentioned below are gathered through NFL Stats, Pro Football Network, and Sporting News.
Before getting into details, let’s have a quick view of the names present in the list.
20. Antonio Gibson
At #20 is Antonio Gibson of the Washington Football team. In the previous season, he played 14 games where he averaged 795 rush yards in 170 attempts. Similarly, Gibson recorded 247 receiving yards and 11 rush touchdowns. Further, the running back came into the spotlight when he scored three touchdowns on thanksgiving.
Not to mention, Antonio also rushed for 115 yards. Accordingly, he became the first rookie to achieve this feat since Randy Moss in 1988. Likewise, the athlete has shown to be a mismatch for most of the league’s linebackers. Before the toe injury that sidelined him, he had an impressive dominance down the stretch.
Therefore, with a veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick in Washington, the rookie is set to have a breakout year in 2021.
19. Chris Carson
Despite being injury-prone, Chris Carson out of Seattle Seahawks is an outstanding running back. In his previous season, Carson played 12 games where he recorded 681 rush yards and 5 rush touchdowns in 141 attempts.
Similarly, with an average of 4.6 yards per carry, he ranks amongst the best in the business. Chris registered two touchdowns for the first week of the previous season while catching six passes for 45 yards.
Chris Carson during the Washington Football Team vs. Seattle Seahawks game.
Correspondingly, he became the first running back since Dan Doornink to record multiple receiving touchdowns in a single game for the Seahawks.
Moreover, Seattle for 2021 has added a new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. Under Waldron, the running back is going to be the focal point of the offense.
However, with his history of injury, the offense will only work for him if he stays healthy.
18. James Robinson
James Robinson, an undrafted rookie out of Jacksonville Jaguars, is making quite a name for himself. His creativity in the open field is awe-inspiring and reliable during crunch times. Further, the team’s starting running back recorded 1,070 rush yards in 240 attempts with 4.5 yards per carry and 7 rush touchdowns in 14 games.
Alongside, the Jaguar’s running back is just the fourth undrafted rookie player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards. However, since the Jaguars selected running back Travis Etienne in the first round, Robinson’s role might be limited. Jacksonville might prefer their first-round pick to start despite James showing his explosive gameplay.
17. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
The first-round pick for the Kansas City Chiefs, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, is one of the rising running backs in the league. In his debut for the Chiefs, he rushed for 138 yards while scoring a rushing touchdown. Thus, Clyde became the youngest player in NFL history to rush for 130 yards with a TD in his debut.
Overall, the rookie finished the season playing 13 games while rushing 803 yards with 4 touchdowns. Unfortunately, on his 15th week, he suffered an ankle injury that sidelined him. Edwards-Helaire returned to play 2 games in the AFC championship, where he rushed for 71 yards and one TD in a loss against the Buffalo Bills.
Despite the loss, the Chiefs running back has shown to be a lethal offensive weapon in his upcoming years.
16. Najee Harris
Najee Harris is a newly drafted rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers out of the University of Alabama. He is a top-tier rookie who, in his senior year, recorded 26 touchdowns while rushing 1,466 yards. With his amazing ability, scouts compare him to Le’Veon Bell, who is a phenomenal rushing back.
Similarly, Harris is set to be the center of the Steelers’ offense. This will help take pressure off Pittsburgh’s veteran QB, Ben Roethlisberger. With this dynamic duo, the Steelers are set to have a very productive year.
15. Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler is an outstanding running back for the Los Angeles Chargers who is an expert in receiving. In the previous season, he rushed for 530 yards while recording one touchdown. Similarly, while receiving 403 yards, Ekeler recorded two touchdowns.
This is not Ekeler’s best season, as he got sidelined by a hamstring injury. Nonetheless, he has shown to be a top priority when leading the offenses alongside QB Justin Herbert. With a perfect opportunity provided and him being healthy, the running back can certainly be an unstoppable force.
14. Cam Akers
Within just a season with the Los Angeles Rams, Cam Akers has made a remarkable impact. Despite losing the Rams star RB Todd Gurley in free agency, they are glad to have Akers. In his rookie season, Akers played 13 games where he rushed 625 yards with 2 touchdowns. Similarly, his toughness was displayed from the very beginning of the game.
In week 14, Cam was awarded the NFC Offensive Player of the Week award. Likewise, he excelled in the postseason by rushing 131 yards in the Wild Card Round. Cam Akers rushing during the Washington Team vs. Los Angeles Rams game. (Source: Wikimedia.org)
However, the Rams were not successful down the stretch. Their season ended in the Divisional Round, where Akers rushed 90 yards. Nonetheless, he will definitely rank higher than #14 in the top NFL running backs debate in the coming years.
13. David Montgomery
David is a strong one-person force who rushed for 1070 yards while recording 8 rush touchdowns in the previous season. Out of Chicago Bear, the star RB is a key opponent to their offense. In the previous season, Montgomery rushed 133 yards and recorded 80-yard touchdowns.
This was the fourth-longest score in the Bears’ history. Similarly, the running back rushed for a career-high 146 yards with 32 carries and two touchdowns. Hence, he crossed the 1000 rushing yards for a season to become just the second running back to do so in the franchise.
Likewise, his 1070 rushing yards ranked fifth in the league. No doubt, Montgomery will make some huge noise in 2021.
12. J.K. Dobbins
J.K Dobbins is a second-round draft for Baltimore Ravens who did more than what anyone expected from him. In his debut, Dobbins scored two touchdowns and further went on to record his first 100-yards rush. He finished the season with 9 touchdowns while rushing 805 yards.
The Ravens drafted a solid running back who also was a top offensive player in Division I football. Therefore, Dobbins was the recipient of the 2019 Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award. Currently, he is suffering from an ACL injury that has sidelined him. So, Baltimore fans are eagerly waiting for his dynamic arrival to help lead them to the Super Bowl.
11. Jonathan Taylor
Jonathan Taylor is the perfect fit for the Indianapolis Colts offense. He’s the prime reason for the Colts to prefer a consistent rushing attack. Tylor has been thriving down the stretch with rushing 1169 yards while scoring 11 touchdowns with this offensive strategy.
He finished third in the league and was named December offensive player of the Month. Maybe this might be a long catch, but with Tylaor and the Frank Reich’s offense, the Colts are definitely going to the playoffs.
10. Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs is the centerpiece of the Las Vegas Raiders‘ offense. In Jacobs’s initial season with the Raiders, he was absolutely dominated by his powerful running style. Even in his previous season, he rushed for 1065 yards while scoring 12 touchdowns in 15 games. In just two years, the rookie has become the new franchise leader in rushing yards.
Further, he was also selected for the 2020 Pro Bowl. So without a doubt, the Raiders are going to receive yet another explosive year from the third-year pro.
9. Joe Mixon
Another explosive name on the top NFL running backs list is Joe Mixon from the Cincinnati Bengals. However, his foot injury did affect his previous season, as of which the running back was only able to rush 428 yards while scoring three rush and one receiving touchdown.
This was the only time that Joe didn’t rush for more the 600 yards. Even in his rookie season, the NFL player finished with 626 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Mixon has always finished with more than 1000 rushing yards except for the previous and rookie season.
Further, with a new offensive coach for the Bengals, he will definitely shine and be more productive.
8. Aaron Jones
In just a short time, the Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones has solidified himself as one of the elites in the game. There is just no beginning or end to his career, a definite Hall of Famer, and a deserving future MVP of the league. Aaron Jones celebrating his touchdown during the Packers v/s. the Redskins game.
In the past two seasons, Jones has scored 30 touchdowns. That in itself is a huge achievement alongside being named into the 2020 Pro Bowl. Alongside the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers, Jones is heading for a good start for the 2021 season.
7. Saquon Barkley
Coming out of injury, fans and the New York Giants have huge expectations from Saquon Barkley. Barkley became the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in his rookie season and got into the 2018 Pro Bowl.
Likewise, the athlete set a record for the highest reception by a rookie RB in a single season. On top of that, in his second season, NFL ranked him as #16 on the NFL Top Player of 2019. Fans are expecting a jaw-dropping explosive return by Barkley’s.
6. Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott had a career-low 4.0 yard per carry last season and is looking to rejuvenate himself. There is a lot to cover, from coaching staff to the quarterback position, on why Elliott hasn’t been performing as he used to in the past.
Nonetheless, Ezekiel has been working on his basis and trying to be quicker on the field. As we all know how damaging his offensive skill can be, he is definitely going to rise for 2021 season.
With a fully healthy offensive line for the Dallas Cowboys, a lot of pressure would be realized from Elliott. Reasoning the same, he can get back anytime to reclaim his rushing title for the third time in his career.
5. Nick Chubb
If it weren’t for Nick Chubb’s offensive presence in the field, the Cleveland Browns wouldn’t be the contender they are now. With an average of 5.2 yards per carry throughout Chubb’s career, he has become a star rushing back in the league.
In his previous season, the player rushed for 1067 yards while scoring 12 rush touchdowns. Therefore, Chubb made it into the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive time in his career. No doubt, he will again continue this dominant performance in the upcoming season.
4. Dalvin Cook
There is just no stopping to the Minnesota Vikings‘ rushing back Dalvin Cook. He seems to get better every year. The sky is the limit to him. Further, coming from his greatest performance of rushing a career-high 1557 yards with 16 touchdowns last season, he is just getting ready to become the best in the league.
Moreover, it’s a problem for any defense to tackle his storminess in the field. With Kirk Cousins, Cook is yet again prepared to display a great performance in 2021.
3. Alvin Kamara
A four-time consecutive Pro Bowler, Alvin Kamara is a huge name when talking about the rushing back position. The New Orleans Saints are in no position to make it into the Super Bowl, even with an enormous performance from Kamara.
However, the success story for the Saints will only be written if Kamara remains with them. He has always been special when it came to getting the job done.
As a result, Alvin recorded 16 touchdowns in the previous season for the second-most score in the NFL. Not to mention, he tied with Dalvin Cook for the same position where Kamara rushed for 932 yards compared to Cook’s 1557 yards.
2. Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffery may not be on the active roster due to his multiple injuries, but he is still a wrecking ball when it comes to rushing down the field.
He is just the second player in NFL history to record 100+ yards and touchdown in rushing and receiving. Further, with 50 rushings, receiving, and passing yards, McCaffrey became just the third player in the history to achieve this feat.
Likewise, Christian is the third white rushing back who recorded over 1,000 rushing yards in a season in NFL history. Well, the list of his amazing achievements goes on and on. The 2021 season will be huge for the league with him returning from his injuries.
1. Derrick Henry
A definite future Hall of Famer, Derrick Henry, is the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He is a two-time rushing yard and a touchdown for two consecutive years. There is simply no answer to this big guy. He finds loopholes in defense so easily, it almost looks effortless.
With a career-best of 2,027 rush yards and 17 touchdowns, King Henry is the prime reason for the Tennessee Titans to become the first seed in the AFC South. Obviously, he is the top prospect for the 2021 season.
It was challenging to rank the top NFL running backs entering the 2021, especially when there is a newly emerging talent and veteran experience in the mix. However, these 20 NFL running backs have proven to stay on the top of their list ever since they turned professional.