Few positions in football have a shorter life than running backs. That’s why there can be so much turnover from year to year when it comes to the best running backs in the NFL. Even top backs can fade quickly or suffer a significant injury, which is the case with Nick Chubb being lost to a season-ending injury in Week 2.
Yet, running backs still hold a special place in the burgeoning sports industry. They influence the result of every game and are relevant in several betting markets. In other words, anyone who is involved in NFL betting should always know about the top running backs playing in any given game. With that in mind, let’s share a rundown of the 10 running backs that have stood out the most early in the 2023 season.
With an 83-yard run on one of his 10 carries in Week 1, Hall made it clear that he’s almost fully recovered from the terrible knee injury that ended his promising rookie season prematurely in 2022. The Jets are still bringing him back slowly, which is why Hall is sharing reps with Dalvin Cook. But we’ve already seen enough glimpses of Hall in 2023 to believe that he can pick up where he left off last season and become a top-flight running back.
Through two games, Mostert is the only running back in the NFL to rush for three touchdowns, which is enough to put the 31-year-old among the best backs in the game right now. Despite having some big moments in the league, Mostert has never had a 1,000-yard season. However, he’s starting for a dynamic Miami offense and has a chance to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career.
Despite playing for a team that led the league in rushing last year, Montgomery is probably better off in his new home in Detroit. He hasn’t created a lot of explosive plays, but he’s getting plenty of carries, allowing him to slowly but surely rack up yards. Keep in mind that the Lions used a first-round pick on running back Jahmyr Gibbs this year. Yet, it’s still Montgomery who’s getting the lion’s share of the Lion’s rushing attempts.
At age 29, most expect Henry to slow down at some point. However, that time hasn’t come yet. His days of leading the league in rushing might be over, but Henry is still near the top of the league in carries. He remains a workhorse back who can handle 20-plus carries per game. That’s not something that can be said of many running backs in the NFL, which is why Henry still deserves to be considered among the best.
With Josh Dobbs at quarterback, the Cardinals need Conner, and he’s come through for them so far. He’s always been the type of back who grinds out the tough yards rather than puts up numbers that jump off the page. While Conner may lack elite speed, he’s been able to gain yards in big chunks this season, giving the Arizona offense a fighting chance while playing with a backup quarterback.
Pollard knew things would be different in Dallas this year now that Ezekiel Elliott is gone and he’s the main man in the backfield for the Cowboys. But he’s handling the transition well so far. Pollard’s numbers haven’t been eye-popping, but he’s doing everything the Cowboys need him to do to keep their offense running like a well-oiled machine.
For the first time, perhaps in his life, Cook is the best running back in his family. His older brother Dalvin is adjusting to having a more limited role with the Jets while James is excelling with the Bills. Cook was productive in a backup role last year but is taking the opportunity to start and run with it. While Dalvin is at the age when running backs start to slow down, James is only 24 and just starting to come into his own.
A change of scenery has had no impact on Swift whatsoever. In fact, he’s on pace to have a far better season with the Eagles in 2023 than he did a year ago in Detroit. Swift appears to be a critical part of the Philadelphia offense and should have no trouble getting enough touches to make him one of the NFL’s leading rushers this season.
The early returns on Robinson have been excellent. The rookie has started to live up to the hype as a top-10 pick. Not only is he racking up yards on the ground but Robinson has also been one of the best pass-catchers among running backs so far in 2023. Obviously, Atlanta’s strong offensive line is making things a little easier for him. But Robinson is still doing the hard work and looks like the real deal.
There were some who were skeptical about McCaffrey because of his injury history despite rushing for over 1,000 yards and amassing over 700 receiving yards last season. But based on his play early in 2023, he’s moved well beyond the injuries that sidelined him for much of 2020 and 2021. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that McCaffrey is once again the best running back in the NFL and among the league’s best playmakers. He’s already got a head start on leading the NFL in rushing yards and plays for a team that will continue to rely on him all year.