NFL Power Rankings: Best Rookie Running Backs

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Seattle Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III runs
(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
BetMGM Staff @BETMGM Jan 20, 2023, 2:14 PM
  • Ranking the best NFL rookie running backs for 2022.
  • Kenneth Walker is No. 1.

It’s clear several NFL rookie running backs are will be difference-makers for their respective teams this season.

With Breece Hall getting injured and missing the remainder of the season, here’s how the rankings look following the regular season.

NFL Power Rankings: Best Rookie Running Backs

1Kenneth WalkerSeahawks
2Tyler AllgeierFalcons
3Breece HallJets
4Dameon PierceTexans
5Isiah PachecoChiefs
6Rachaad WhiteBuccaneers
7James CookBills
8Brian RobinsonCommanders
9Jaylen WarrenSteelers
10Zonovan KnightJets

1) Kenneth Walker III – Seattle Seahawks

Walker rushed for 63 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown in the Seahawks’ 41-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers during last Saturday’s wild-card game. He added one reception for three yards. The Michigan State star led all rookie running backs in rushing with 1050 yards on 228 attempts with nine touchdowns. He caught 27 passes for 165 yards. Walker’s ability to step in and seize the lead running back role following Rashaad Penny’s injury in Week 5 was crucial to the Seahawks’ surprisingly successful season.

2) Tyler Allgeier – Atlanta Falcons

Allgeier was outstanding in Week 18, rushing for 135 yards on 24 carries in the Falcons’ 30-17 home victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A fifth-round selection, Allgeier surpassed the 1000-yard plateau, finishing the season with 1,035 yards rushing on 210 attempts and three touchdowns. He added 139 yards on 16 receptions with one touchdown. Together with veteran Cordarrelle Patterson, the Falcons’ running game would appear to be in capable hands.

3) Breece Hall – New York Jets

Hall’s season ended abruptly after suffering a torn ACL against the Denver Broncos in Week 7. Despite appearing in only seven games, the Iowa State product still led the Jets in rushing with 463 yards on 80 carries, a stellar 5.8 YPC, while adding four touchdowns. He established himself as a three-down back, hauling in 19 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown. Jets fans will eagerly await his expected return next season.

4) Dameon Pierce – Houston Texans

Pierce was placed on IR after suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 14, a disappointing end to an outstanding rookie campaign. A true workhorse in the Texans backfield, Pierce posted 220 carries for 939 yards with four touchdowns, adding 165 yards on 30 receptions with a score. After a miserable 3-13-1 season, Houston has some holes to fill, and running back does not appear to be one of them.

5) Isiah Pacheco – Kansas City Chiefs

Pacheco registered 64 yards on eight carries and a touchdown in Week 18 as the Chiefs clinched the AFC’s top seed with a 31-13 win over the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Pacheco assumed the lead running back role in Week 10 and, together with passing down back Jerick McKinnon, poses a dynamic threat that will no doubt be heard from during KC’s playoff run. The 23-year-old finished the regular season with 830 yards rushing on 170 attempts with five touchdowns. He contributed 130 yards through the air on 13 receptions. Kansas City hosts the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Divisional Round on Saturday.

6) Rachaad White – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

White had seven carries for 41 yards and caught five passes for 36 yards as the Bucs fell 31-14 at home to the Dallas Cowboys in Monday’s NFC wild-card game. The 24-year-old enjoyed a successful rookie campaign, sharing responsibilities with veteran Leonard Fournette, and firmly establishing his three-down talent throughout the season. The Arizona State product gained 481 yards on the ground on 129 attempts with one touchdown and led all rookie running backs in receptions with 50 for 290 yards, finding paydirt twice. The future of the Buccaneers’ running game looks solid, with While expected to take on a more significant share of the workload next season.

7) James Cook – Buffalo Bills

Cook rushed for 39 yards on 12 carries in the Bills’ 34-31 wild-card victory over the Miami Dolphins. Splitting time with veteran Devin Singletary, the 23-year-old ended the regular season with 525 yards rushing – an outstanding 5.8 YPC – adding 21 receptions for 180 yards. A dynamic three-down talent, Cook should see plenty of action as the Bills host the Cincinnati Bengals in the Divisional Round this Sunday.

8) Brian Robinson – Washington Commanders

Robinson missed Week 18 after being placed on IR with a knee injury earlier in the week. A remarkable comeback story in his inaugural season, Robinson ran for 797 yards on 205 carries with two touchdowns. Serving as the team’s primary running back, the Alabama grad shared duties with passing down back Antonio Gibson, providing the Commanders a solid one-two combination out of the backfield.

9) Jaylen Warren – Pittsburgh Steelers

Warren had six carries for 36 yards, adding three receptions for seven yards in the Steelers’ 28-14 win over the Cleveland Browns at Acrisure Stadium. Undrafted out of Oklahoma State, Warren proved more than capable of spelling Pittsburgh’s lead back Najee Harris. The 24-year-old gained 379 yards on the ground on 77 carries and caught 28 passes for 214 yards.

10) Zonovan Knight – New York Jets

Knight managed just 22 yards on 12 carries in the Jets’ 11-6 defeat in Miami. Making his debut in Week 12, Knight impressed in his first three games but struggled down the stretch, being held under 30 yards rushing in each of the season’s final four games. After upsetting the Bills in Week 9, Gang Green lost seven of their next eight, ending the season on a six-game losing skid. The Jets’ offense will no doubt be bolstered with the expected return of Breece Hall next year, leaving Knight and a host of others battling for a supporting role.

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Our BetMGM authors are sports experts, with a wealth of knowledge of the sports betting industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news across players, teams and coaches, providing betting previews and predictions, fun facts and more.