Welcome to the Pro Football Focus Page of Fame for Running Backs, where only the best overall regular season performances during our time grading (2008 to Present) are mentioned.
If this is your first visit to a “PFF PoF” then the rules are pretty simple. The highest grades from the regular season make the list, and at the end of every year we update.
Anything over a +12.0 grade will make the list.
1. Adrian Peterson, 2012, MIN: +29.8
Rushing: +30.2, Receiving: +0.2, Blocking: -1.1, Penalty: +0.5
It was very nearly a season for the ages, as Peterson bounced back from injury to rush for 2,097 yards, with 1,369 of them coming after contact. With 12 touchdowns and 64 forced missed tackles he was near unstoppable.
2. C.J. Spiller, 2012, BUF: +25.4
Rushing: +19.7, Receiving: +7.1, Blocking: -1.7, Penalty: +0.3
The only thing holding Spiller back in 2012 was how many touches he got. When he got the ball he made the most of some average blocking to make many a defender look foolish, as evidenced by his 2012 best 94.6 Elusive Rating.
3. Jamaal Charles, 2010, KC: +19.5
Rushing: +17.9, Receiving: +0.1, Blocking: +3.3, Penalty: -1.8
In 2009, Charles had made a name for himself in half a season’s worth of work, but when handed 231 carries in 2010 he really showed what he could do. The result was 6.3 yards per carry as the Chiefs back took every little hole and made the most out of it.
4. Fred Jackson, 2011, BUF: +19.3
Rushing: +7.6, Receiving: +7.5, Blocking: +4.3, Penalty: -0.1
You wonder what Jackson could have done if injury didn’t limit him to 578 snaps. But it did, and the memories of his 934 yards on 170 carries that featured 34 forced tackles lives long. His work in the receiving game (442 yards on 39 receptions with 11 missed tackles) shouldn’t be overlooked either.
5. Alfred Morris, 2012, WAS: +17.1
Rushing: +17.1, Receiving: -2.1, Blocking: +3.8, Penalty: -1.3
Not many rookies can come in and make the impact Morris did — 1,613 yards rushing with 13 touchdowns. That he had to force 57 missed tackles to do it, and picked up over 1,000 yards after contact, shows just how well he ran.
6. Pierre Thomas, 2012, NO: +16.5
Rushing: +7.5, Receiving: +7.1, Blocking: +1.9, Penalty: 0.0
Just how much damage could Thomas cause if he got more snaps? In 2012 he was on the field for just 398 snaps, averaging 4.5 yards on his 105 carries and adding 354 yards on his 39 receptions. All while forcing 30 missed tackles.
7. Ray Rice, 2009, BAL: +16.2
Rushing: +1.2, Receiving: +12.2, Blocking: +3.4, Penalty: -0.6
It wasn’t so much what Rice did rushing the ball (though 1,338 yards is an achievement in and of itself), but it’s the threat he posed in the passing game that earned the majority of his grade. He generated 702 yards rushing, while forcing 25 missed tackles on his 78 receptions. Impressive.
8. Pierre Thomas, 2011, NO: +16.1
Rushing: +10.1, Receiving: +5.2, Blocking: +1.8, Penalty: -1.0
Thomas added 425 receiving yards to 562 rushing yards as he delivered whenever called upon by the Saints. His 33 forced missed tackles from 160 touches is extremely impressive.
9. Marshawn Lynch, 2012, SEA: +15.1
Rushing: +14.5, Receiving: -0.3, Blocking: +1.4, Penalty: -0.5
Lynch entered “Beast Mode” throughout 2012 on his way to picking up 1,590 yards. His 5.0 yards per carry average (with 2.8 of them coming after contact) helped push his Seattle team into the playoffs.
10. Ahmad Bradshaw, 2012, NYG: +14.2
Rushing: +4.8, Receiving: +3.7, Blocking: +6.2, Penalty: -0.5
Despite battling injury, Bradshaw showed just how complete a back he was on his 611 snaps for the Giants. His 4.6 yards per carry average was impressive, while he turned 26 targets into 23 receptions for 245 yards. Throw in some exceptional blocking (he gave up just seven quarterback pressures on 152 pass blocks) and you’ve got an extremely efficient year.
11. Peyton Hillis, 2010, CLE: +13.8
Rushing: +3.4, Receiving: +8.7, Blocking: +2.6, Penalty: -0.9
Hillis did it all in 2010. He ran with authority, took advantage of his size and athleticism in space, and held up in pass protection. His fumbling problem hurt him, but you could look past that with everything else he offered.
12. Ray Rice, 2012, BAL: +13.5
Rushing: +4.4, Receiving: +9.2, Blocking: +0.4, Penalty: -0.5
Before his postseason fumbling Rice was demonstrating his ability, especially when the Ravens got him into space. No play from the season stood out more than his 30-yard fourth-down reception that provided a spark to a faltering Ravens team.
13. Maurice Jones-Drew, 2009, JAX: +13.0
Rushing: +2.4, Receiving: +4.1, Blocking: +6.6, Penalty: -0.1
A year where “MJD” showed he wasn’t just the real deal, but a complete package in leading the Jaguars’ rushing attack. His 15 touchdowns ,with 45 missed tackles, really showcased a guy delivering on his talent.
14. Matt Forte, 2011, CHI: +12.7
Rushing: +10.0, Receiving: +4.7, Blocking: -1.7, Penalty: -0.3
Before his season was ended prematurely by injury, Forte was using 2011 to prove himself one of the league’s most complete backs. Stats of 4.9 yards per carry and 545 yards after contact will help do that.
15. Doug Martin, 2012, TB: +12.6
Rushing: +9.7, Receiving: +5.0, Blocking: 0.0, Penalty: -2.1
Martin exploded onto the scene with his 2012 rookie year, showing what a threat he was to take it the distance with 33.1% of his yards coming on runs over 15 yards.
16. Maurice Jones-Drew, 2011, JAX: +12.4
Rushing: +8.9, Receiving: +1.1, Blocking: +1.6, Penalty: +0.8
With the Jaguars lacking any passing threat, “MJD” led the league in rushing in 2011 with 1,606 yards. Forced into a heavy workload he never faltered and was able to keep piles moving despite facing eight men in the box with regularity.
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