best athletes The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time  

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List Rules Only running backs. Rank the players based on their career achievements in the NFL

This list of top NFL running backs of all time is ranked by football fans worldwide. Who are the best NFL running backs of all time? The goal is to determine the greatest running backs to ever play the game.

They are some of the fastest, most athletic sports stars in the game. These top athletes have been wowing fans across the country for years. Some of them currently play in the league, others are long-retired legends whose legacy will be remembered on and off the field for a long time. 

The list establishes individual rankings of specific running backs and helps answer the question, "Who is the best NFL running back in the world?" This list includes some legendary famous football players with a lot of rushing yards under their belt. Anyone can vote on the top running backs in history, which means these players are truly fan favorites.
list ordered by

1
9,740 3,192
Barry Sanders is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Barry Sanders Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions - Barry Sanders is a former American football running back who spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League. A member of both the college and ...more

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2
8,841 2,923
Walter Payton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Walter Payton Chicago Bears - Walter Jerry Payton was an American football running back who played for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League for thirteen seasons. Walter Payton was known around the NFL as ...more

3
6,928 2,535
Jim Brown is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Jim Brown Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football - James Nathaniel "Jim" Brown is an American former professional football player and actor. He is best known for his exceptional and record-setting nine year career as a running back for ...more

4
4,652 2,600
LaDainian Tomlinson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
LaDainian Tomlinson TCU Horned Frogs football, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers - LaDainian Tramayne Tomlinson is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played the majority of ...more

5
5,678 3,639
Emmitt Smith is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Emmitt Smith Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys - Emmitt James Smith, III is an American former college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for fifteen seasons during the 1990s and 2000s. ...more

6
4,103 2,501
Eric Dickerson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Eric Dickerson Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders - Eric Demetric Dickerson is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for eleven seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. ...more

7
4,275 2,360
Marshall Faulk is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Marshall Faulk Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams, San Diego State Aztecs football - Marshall William Faulk is an American former college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for twelve seasons. He played college football for ...more

8
4,826 3,020
Earl Campbell is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Earl Campbell New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers, Texas Longhorns football - Earl Christian Campbell, nicknamed The Tyler Rose, is a former professional American football running back. He, Paul Hornung, and O. J. Simpson are the only Heisman Trophy winners to have also ...more

9
5,695 3,158
Adrian Peterson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings - Adrian Lewis Peterson is an American football running back for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Vikings seventh overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. He ...more

10
5,396 2,453
Bo Jackson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Bo Jackson Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Raiders - Vincent Edward "Bo" Jackson is a retired American baseball and football player. He is the only athlete to be named an All-Star in two major American sports. He was named the greatest ...more

11
3,817 2,494
Gale Sayers is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Gale Sayers Chicago Bears, Kansas Jayhawks football - Gale Eugene Sayers, also known as "The Kansas Comet", is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for seven ...more

12
3,068 1,752
Marcus Allen is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Marcus Allen USC Trojans football, Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs - Marcus LeMarr Allen is a former American football running back and football analyst for CBS. As a professional, Allen ran for 12,243 yards and caught 587 passes for 5,412 yards during his career ...more

13
3,629 3,056
O. J. Simpson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
O. J. Simpson Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers - Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson, also nicknamed "The Juice", is a retired American football player, broadcaster, actor, and convicted felon currently incarcerated in Nevada. ...more

14
3,012 2,379
Tony Dorsett is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Tony Dorsett Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Panthers football, Dallas Cowboys - Anthony "Tony" Drew Dorsett is a former American football running back in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. After graduating from Hopewell High ...more

15
2,365 1,556
Jim Thorpe is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Jim Thorpe Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians, Canton Bulldogs - James Francis "Jim" Thorpe was a Sac and Fox athlete of Native American and European ancestry. Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, he won Olympic gold ...more

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16
2,179 1,723
Terrell Davis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Terrell Davis Denver Broncos, Georgia Bulldogs football team, Long Beach State 49ers football - Terrell Lamar Davis is a former American football running back who played for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League from 1995 to 2001. Davis was drafted by the Broncos in the sixth ...more

17
2,481 2,182
Jerome Bettis is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Jerome Bettis Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams - Jerome Abram Bettis Sr., nicknamed "The Bus," is a former American football halfback who played for the Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football ...more

18
2,118 1,612
Herschel Walker is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Herschel Walker Georgia Bulldogs football team, New Jersey Generals, Philadelphia Eagles - Herschel Junior Walker is a former college and professional football player, bobsledder, sprinter and mixed martial artist. He played college football for the University of Georgia, earned ...more

19
1,852 1,616
Curtis Martin is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Curtis Martin New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Panthers football, New York Jets - Curtis James Martin, Jr. is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League for the New England Patriots and New York Jets over the span of 10 years. Martin ...more

20
2,014 1,696
John Riggins is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
John Riggins Washington Redskins, New York Jets - Robert John Riggins, nicknamed "The Diesel" and "Riggo", is a former American football running back in the National Football League for the New York Jets and Washington ...more

21
2,198 1,418
Marshawn Lynch is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, California Golden Bears football - Marshawn Terrell Lynch is an American football running back for the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League. He is nicknamed "Beast Mode" for his aggressive running style and ...more

22
1,992 1,695
Thurman Thomas is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Thurman Thomas Buffalo Bills - Thurman Lee Thomas is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back who spent most of his National Football League career with the Buffalo Bills. Thomas was ...more

23
2,172 2,086
Franco Harris is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Franco Harris Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Penn State Nittany Lions football - Franco Harris is a former American football player. He played his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. In the 1972 NFL Draft he was picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers ...more

24
1,712 1,482
Larry Csonka is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Larry Csonka Syracuse Orange football, Miami Dolphins, Memphis Southmen - Larry Richard Csonka is a former college and professional American football fullback and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With the Miami Dolphins he won the Super Bowl in 1973 and

25
1,406 1,167
Roger Craig is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Roger Craig Roger Timothy Craig is a former American football running back in the National Football League. He played with San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. Craig went to four ...more

26
1,219 1,255
Bronko Nagurski is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Bronko Nagurski Minnesota Golden Gophers football, Chicago Bears - Bronislau "Bronko" Nagurski was a Canadian-born American football player. He was also a successful professional wrestler, recognized as a multiple-time world heavyweight champion.

27
1,353 1,121
Frank Gore is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers, Miami Hurricanes football - Franklin Delano "Frank" Gore is an American football running back for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Miami. ...more

28
1,156 1,107
Red Grange is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Red Grange Harold Edward "Red" Grange, nicknamed "The Galloping Ghost", was a college and professional American football halfback for the University of Illinois, the Chicago Bears, and ...more

29
585 343
Le'Veon Bell is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
madd added Le'Veon Bell Pittsburgh Steelers, Michigan State Spartans football - Le'Veon Bell is an American football running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played ...more

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30
1,049 790
LeSean McCoy is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
BobbyMoore added LeSean McCoy Pittsburgh Panthers football, Philadelphia Eagles - LeSean Kamel McCoy is an American football running back for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Pittsburgh, and was drafted by the ...more

31
1,690 1,552
Chuck Foreman is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Chuck Foreman Walter Eugene "Chuck" Foreman is a retired American football football player. He was a running back during his National Football League career, and often caught passes out of the ...more

32
1,039 997
Jim Taylor is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Jim Taylor New Orleans Saints, LSU Tigers football, Green Bay Packers - James Charles "Jim" Taylor is a former professional American football fullback in the National Football League. Taylor played for ten seasons, from 1958-67. He is a member of the Pro ...more

33
743 533
Jamaal Charles is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
RichardHonda added Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs, Texas Longhorns football - Jamaal RaShaad Jones Charles is an American football running back for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Texas, and was ...more

34
926 827
Eddie George is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Eddie George Tennessee Titans, Ohio State Buckeyes football, Dallas Cowboys - Edward Nathan George, Jr. is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for nine seasons. He played college football for ...more

35
940 978
Shaun Alexander is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Shaun Alexander Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Alabama Crimson Tide Football - Shaun Edward Alexander is a former American football running back who played for the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He played college football for the ...more

36
848 835
Ricky Williams is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Ricky Williams New Orleans Saints, Toronto Argonauts, Baltimore Ravens - Errick Lynne "Ricky" Williams, Jr. is a retired American football running back who played eleven seasons in the National Football League and one season in the Canadian Football League. ...more

37
947 929
Paul Hornung is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Paul Hornung Notre Dame Fighting Irish football, Green Bay Packers - Paul Vernon Hornung is a retired professional football player, a Hall of Fame running back for the Green Bay Packers of the NFL from 1957 to 1966, winning four NFL titles and the first Super ...more

38
876 1,014
Edgerrin James is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Edgerrin James Seattle Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Arizona Cardinals - Edgerrin Tyree James is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played college football for the University of Miami. He was ...more

39
887 763
Matt Forté is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Matt Forté Tulane Green Wave football, Chicago Bears - Matthew Garrett "Matt" Forte is an American football running back for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He played college football at Tulane and was drafted by the ...more

40
821 859
Priest Holmes is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Priest Holmes Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Texas Longhorns football - Priest Anthony Holmes is a former American football running back who played eleven seasons in the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Texas. He was signed ...more

41
727 730
Billy Sims is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Billy Sims Oklahoma Sooners football, Detroit Lions - Billy Ray Sims is a former American college and professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League for five seasons during the 1980s. Sims played college ...more

42
698 753
Ricky Watters is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Ricky Watters Seattle Seahawks - Richard "Ricky" James Watters is a former American football running back who played for the San Francisco 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, and the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football ...more

43
731 775
Tiki Barber is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Tiki Barber New York Giants - Atiim Kiambu "Tiki" Barber is a retired American football running back who played for the New York Giants of the National Football League for ten seasons. He played college football ...more

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44
804 854
Steven Jackson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Steven Jackson Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams, Oregon State Beavers football - Steven Rashad Jackson is an American football running back who is a free agent. He played college football for Oregon State University, and was drafted by the St. Louis Rams 24th overall in the ...more

45
628 583
DeMarco Murray is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
AddWilson added DeMarco Murray Oklahoma Sooners football, Dallas Cowboys - 2014 NFL rushing leader. (1845 yd, 4.7 avg.)  6'0" 217lbs. 4.41 40-yard-dash

46
464 451
Christian Okoye is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Christian Okoye Kansas City Chiefs - Christian Emeka Okoye, is a Nigerian-American former American football fullback for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1987 to 1992. Nicknamed "The Nigerian Nightmare," Okoye was known for ...more

47
861 912
Arian Foster is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Arian Foster Houston Texans, Tennessee Volunteers football - Arian Isa Foster is an American football running back for the Houston Texans of the National Football League. He played college football for the University of Tennessee. He was signed by the ...more

48
380 339
Clinton Portis is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
wiabux added Clinton Portis Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Miami Hurricanes football - Clinton Earl Portis is a former American football running back who played in the National Football League for nine seasons. He played college football for the University of Miami. He was drafted ...more

49
376 346
Ahman Green is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
TimErnst added Ahman Green Seattle Seahawks, Montreal Alouettes, Houston Texans - Ahman Rashad Green is a former American football running back who played twelve seasons in the National Football League. He is the all-time leading rusher for the Green Bay Packers. He was ...more

50
190 105
Darren Sproles is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time
Mikey_Stones added Darren Sproles New Orleans Saints, Kansas State Wildcats football, San Diego Chargers - Darren Lee Sproles is an American football running back for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL ...more