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The Best Detroit Lions Running Backs of All Time

Updated October 17, 2019 4.1k votes 967 voters 32.9k views31 items

Big fan of Detroit football? Then check out this list of Detroit Lions running backs with photos and seasons as starters. It includes every starting running back from throughout Detroit Lions history, including current running backs and past ones. Featuring 2018-2019 Detroit Lions and some of the greatest NFL running backs of all time, the best Lions RBs include Barry Sanders, Billy Sims, Kevin Jones, and James Stewart. 

Who are the best running backs in Detroit Lions history? Here is every player who has ever held the position of Detroit Lions starting running back. Vote below, then head over and check out the top Lions kickers ever and best Lions tight ends.

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  • Barry Sanders1
    635
    63

    Seasons: 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989

  • Billy Sims2
    315
    62

    Seasons: 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980

  • Doak Walker3
    86
    30

    Doak Walker

  • Mel Farr4
    138
    79

    Seasons: 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970, 1969, 1968, 1967

  • Dexter Bussey5
    100
    55

    Seasons: 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1976, 1975, 1974

  • Reggie Bush6
    180
    140

    Seasons: 2014, 2013

  • Theo Riddick7
    136
    101

    Seasons: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

  • James Stewart8
    103
    74

    James Stewart

    Seasons:  2003, 2002, 2001, 2000

  • Steve Owens9
    79
    57

    Seasons: 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970

  • Kerryon Johnson10
    79
    61
  • Nick Pietrosante11
    44
    27

    Nick Pietrosante

  • Jahvid Best12
    89
    79

    Seasons: 2012, 2011, 2010

  • Kevin Smith13
    72
    62

    Seasons: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008

  • Joique Bell14
    31
    16
  • Altie Taylor15
    50
    39

    Seasons: 1975, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1970, 1969

  • Kevin Jones16
    76
    71

    Kevin Jones

    Seasons: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

  • John Henry Johnson17
    36
    24
  • James Jones18
    31
    30
  • Ernie Caddel19
    13
    10

    Ernie Caddel

  • 20
    17
    17

    Ace Gutowsky

  • 21
    17
    17

    Bob Hoernschmeyer

  • Rick Kane22
    25
    34

    Seasons: 1983, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977

  • Horace King23
    14
    20

    Horace King

    1975-1983 3660 total yards 14 touchdowns

  • Ameer Abdullah24
    66
    98

    Seasons: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

  • Shawn Bryson25
    26
    41

    Shawn Bryson

    Seasons: 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003