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38.5k voters

The Best NFL Running Backs of All Time

Updated July 31, 2020 372.9k votes 38.5k voters 632.7k views206 items

List RulesOnly 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.
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  • Jim Brown1
    10,486
    3,938

    Jim Brown

    Cleveland Browns, Syracuse Orange football

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  • Barry Sanders2
    13,985
    5,300

    Barry Sanders

    Oklahoma State Cowboys football, Detroit Lions
  • Walter Payton3
    12,250
    4,640

    Walter Payton

    Chicago Bears
  • Bo Jackson4
    7,999
    4,061

    Bo Jackson

    Los Angeles Raiders

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    #111 of 511 The Best Baseball Players NOT in the Hall of Fame#406 of 708 The Best Hitters in Baseball History

  • Adrian Peterson5
    8,162
    4,660

    Adrian Peterson

    Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints
  • Gale Sayers6
    5,499
    3,081

    Gale Sayers

    Chicago Bears, Kansas Jayhawks football
  • LaDainian Tomlinson7
    7,057
    4,051

    LaDainian Tomlinson

    TCU Horned Frogs football, New York Jets
  • Eric Dickerson8
    6,305
    3,735

    Eric Dickerson

    Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis Colts

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    #26 of 106 The Fastest NFL Players of All Time#44 of 143 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soon

  • Marshall Faulk9
    6,151
    3,530

    Marshall Faulk

    Indianapolis Colts, St. Louis Rams

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    #5 of 15 The Worst NFL Trades Ever Made#3 of 36 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 90s

  • Earl Campbell10
    6,661
    4,016

    Earl Campbell

    New Orleans Saints, Houston Oilers
  • Emmitt Smith11
    8,388
    5,424

    Emmitt Smith

    Florida Gators football, Arizona Cardinals

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    #957 of 1,816 The Best Athletes Of All Time#423 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Marcus Allen12
    4,386
    2,646

    Marcus Allen

    USC Trojans football, Oakland Raiders
  • Tony Dorsett13
    4,261
    2,787

    Tony Dorsett

    Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Panthers football
  • Jim Thorpe14
    3,446
    2,320

    Jim Thorpe

    Cleveland Indians, Oorang Indians

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  • Thurman Thomas15
    3,079
    2,192

    Thurman Thomas

    Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins
  • Frank Gore16
    2,841
    1,874

    Frank Gore

    San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts
  • Herschel Walker17
    3,473
    2,473

    Herschel Walker

    Georgia Bulldogs football team, New Jersey Generals
  • Terrell Davis18
    3,483
    2,575

    Terrell Davis

    Denver Broncos, Georgia Bulldogs football team

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    #5 of 26 NFL Players Whose Careers Ended Too Soon#15 of 44 The Best University of Georgia Football Players of All Time

  • Jerome Bettis19
    3,738
    2,913

    Jerome Bettis

    Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams

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  • Marshawn Lynch20
    3,617
    2,724

    Marshawn Lynch

    Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills
  • Franco Harris21
    3,088
    2,409

    Franco Harris

    Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • John Riggins22
    2,804
    2,181

    John Riggins

    Washington Redskins, New York Jets
  • O. J. Simpson23
    5,235
    4,258

    O. J. Simpson

    Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers

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  • Larry Csonka24
    2,435
    1,900

    Larry Csonka

    Syracuse Orange football, Miami Dolphins

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    #7 of 27 The Best NFL Running Backs of the 70s#10 of 47 The Best Super Bowl MVPs of All Time

  • Curtis Martin25
    2,639
    2,293

    Curtis Martin

    New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Panthers football