RB Index, Week 5: Top 15 running backs at the quarter mark of 2023 NFL season

Former NFL rushing leader and current NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew will survey all running backs and rank his top 15 each week of the 2023 season. His rankings are largely based on this season’s efforts.

Here is MJD’s list heading into Week 5.

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2023 stats: 4 games | 80 att | 459 rush yds | 5.7 ypc | 6 rush TD | 18 rec | 141 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost

McCaffrey continues to prove he’s deserving of the top spot on this list. He checked off another box in Sunday’s win over the Cardinals, scoring a career-high four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving). The weird thing is I’m not even surprised he scored that many times on his 27 touches. He’s at the height of his powers and is a sure-fire MVP candidate right now.

2023 stats: 4 games | 59 att | 364 rush yds | 6.2 ypc | 2 rush TD | 9 rec | 37 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

While Swift’s streak of 100-yard games was snapped against the Commanders, he was still effective in averaging 4.0 yards per carry on 14 attempts. He scored his second touchdown of the season on a 5-yard run late in the first quarter to open the scoring for Philadelphia. 

2023 stats: 4 games | 72 att | 311 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 15 rec | 61 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

Pollard had another solid outing in the Cowboys’ rout of the Patriots, compiling 47 yards on 11 attempts for 4.3 yards per carry. In their three victories this season, the Cowboys have outscored their opponents 108-13, which makes it a little bit tougher to evaluate Pollard given the lopsided nature of the games. Week 5 should give us a better idea with the Cowboys traveling to face San Francisco, the team that knocked Dallas out of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

2023 stats: 4 games | 56 att | 296 rush yds | 6.1 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 10 rec | 67 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

Cook has compiled over 400 scrimmage yards in his first four games and finally got into the end zone in Sunday’s statement win over the Miami Dolphins. His touchdown came on a 1-yard plunge up the middle late in the first quarter, but most of the fireworks made by the Bills’ offense came by way of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.

2023 stats: 4 games | 62 att | 318 rush yds | 5.1 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 8 rec | 30 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

The Cardinals quickly fell behind against the 49ers, limiting Conner’s opportunities. He posted 12 touches for 56 yards and was still rather efficient, averaging 4.7 yards per carry in the contest. After an uphill battle against a great division opponent, Conner gets a chance to lead Arizona to its second win against a struggling Bengals squad in Week 5.

2023 stats: 4 games | 64 att | 283 rush yds | 4.4 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 8 rec | 73 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

After an official review reversed the ruling on a Walker 73-yard touchdown run early in Monday night’s game, he had to wait until the second quarter to get into the end zone on a 1-yard score. Walker finished with 79 rush yards, including a run of 31 yards, and has now scored in each of the last three contests.

2023 stats: 4 games | 61 att | 261 rush yds | 4.3 ypc | 3 rush TDs | 5 rec | 55 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost

Robinson’s third rushing touchdown of the season was a 15-yard scamper that helped the Commanders tie the Eagles midway through the fourth quarter on Sunday. It was by far his biggest run of the day, picking up one-third of his rush yards on the score. I’d still like to see Washington lean more heavily on the run game to alleviate some of the pressure on its young quarterback, Sam Howell. The Commanders have a good opportunity to do that on Thursday Night Football against a Bears defense that ranks 28th in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed.

2023 stats: 4 games | 53 att | 318 rush yds | 6.0 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 19 rec | 134 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost

The Falcons’ offense has been held to less than 300 yards in three of four games this season. Most recently, it totaled 287 yards in a 23-7 loss to the Jaguars in London. Despite the early struggles, the rookie running back has been a bright spot in both the run and pass games, as he’s posted the fourth-highest percentage of his team’s scrimmage yards (36.0) by a rookie since 1970, according to NFL Research. 

2023 stats: 4 games | 73 att | 285 rush yds | 3.9 ypc | 2 rush TD | 6 rec | 82 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

Henry and the Titans had a much-needed bounce-back performance against the Bengals in Week 4. He racked up 122 rush yards on 22 carries for 5.5 yards per attempt. He had a pair of 16-yard gains, a Beast Mode-like 29-yard touchdown run and a TD PASS to Josh Whyle — the fourth TD pass of his career. The Titans are at their best offensively when Henry is heavily involved, and we saw it in full during Sunday’s win.

2023 stats: 3 games | 27 att | 309 rush yds | 11.4 ypc | 4 rush TDs | 8 rec | 53 rec yds | 2 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

Achane followed up his four-TD performance in Week 3 with 120 scrimmage yards and two rush TDs in the Dolphins’ loss to the Bills. His scores came on a 3-yard run and 10-yard jet sweep — both in the first half. He became the fourth player in NFL history to have at least six touchdowns in his first three career games. I love how Mike McDaniel is utilizing the rookie speedster early on.

2023 stats: 4 games | 48 att | 249 rush yds | 5.2 ypc | 6 rush TD | 13 rec | 115 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 1 fumble lost

Mostert had his worst outing of the 2023 season against Buffalo with just nine yards on seven carries. He did flash in the pass game with a nice 22-yard reception. Mostert will need more consistency in an offense with no shortage of talent, as he falls behind teammate De’Von Achane in my rankings this week.

2023 stats: 4 games | 55 att | 270 rush yds | 4.9 ypc | 2 rush TD | 10 rec | 90 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

Pacheco was building toward a big performance and began the new month with a career-best effort in prime time. He posted career-highs in rushing yards (115) and receiving yards (43), logging his first game with at least 150 scrimmage yards. The highlight of Sunday’s victory was his 48-yard touchdown run in the first quarter (the Chiefs’ longest touchdown in 2023). He made one defender miss in the backfield and was off to the races. With a less-heralded receiving corps this season, the Chiefs will need their running back to continue having stellar games like this.

2023 stats: 4 games | 69 att | 260 rush yds | 3.8 ypc | 1 rush TD | 14 rec | 96 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost

The Jaguars clicked early in their win over the Falcons and scored 17 unanswered first-half points. While Etienne hasn’t seen the end zone since Week 1, he did his part with 55 rush yards and 17 receiving yards against Atlanta. I know those numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but this is a team game for a reason.

2023 stats: 3 games | 69 att | 262 rush yds | 3.8 ypc | 5 rush TDs | 3 rec | 27 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 1 fumble lost

The Lions are so much better offensively when operating with two healthy running backs to swap in and out. In the Week 4 prime-time win at Lambeau Field, Montgomery returned after missing a game with a thigh injury, setting the tone for the Lions with a career-high 32 carries. He posted 121 rush yards and a trio of touchdowns on 3-yard, 2-yard and 1-yard runs. 

2023 stats: 4 games | 64 att | 245 rush yds | 3.8 ypc | 5 rush TD | 11 rec | 101 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost

Williams reached new heights in Sunday’s overtime win, putting up a career-best 25 carries, 103 rush yards and 127 scrimmage yards while adding a pair of rushing touchdowns. He now has five rush TDs and six scrimmage TDs in 2023, which are both tied for third most in the NFL.

DROPPED OUT: Zack Moss, Colts (previously No. 9); Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions (No. 14).

The Ground Index presented by FedEx ranks NFL running back performances all season long. Check out the weekly FedEx Air NFL Players of the Week and cast your vote after Sunday Night Football.

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