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Potential Breakout Running Backs in the 2023 NFL Season: Year 2 Standouts to Watch

Potential Breakout Running Backs in the 2023 NFL Season – Running backs continue to be a crucial element in the NFL despite the league’s emphasis on passing. The 2022 running back class showcased several talented players who made significant impacts in their rookie seasons. As they head into their sophomore year, fans and analysts are eager to see how these young rushers will progress and which ones have the potential for a breakout in the 2023 season. The NFL betting odds for the regular season will soon be updated online for bettors to place their bets on their favorite teams.

Kenneth Walker III – Detroit Lions

Kenneth Walker III had a slow start to his rookie campaign with the Detroit Lions, but he quickly found his footing and showcased his explosive playmaking ability. With five games of over 100 rushing yards, including three consecutive contests to end the regular season, Walker proved to be a true home run threat. However, to maintain his success in Year 2, he needs to improve his efficiency and avoid forcing plays that could lead to regression. Furthermore, the presence of second-round pick Zach Charbonnet could impact Walker’s production.

Potential Breakout Running Backs in the 2023 NFL Season – Tyler Allgeier – Atlanta Falcons

Selected in the fifth round by the Atlanta Falcons, Tyler Allgeier emerged as a gem for the team’s ground game in his rookie season. His impressive vision and burst allowed him to gain substantial yardage after contact, making him a perfect fit in Arthur Smith’s run scheme. While Allgeier is expected to maintain his production, the addition of first-round pick Bijan Robinson might limit his touches and opportunities to replicate his century-mark rookie season.

James Cook – Buffalo Bills

James Cook showcased glimpses of his talent as a power slasher during his limited opportunities in his rookie season with the Buffalo Bills. Despite having only 89 carries, Cook impressed with an impressive 5.7 yards per attempt average. OC Ken Dorsey praised Cook as an “every-down back,” indicating that the Bills will rely on him heavily in the rushing attack. As Buffalo remains a pass-first offense, Cook’s contribution as a versatile rusher will be vital.

Dameon Pierce – Houston Texans

Dameon Pierce’s rookie season with the Houston Texans was cut short due to an ankle injury, but he still managed to display his power, balance, and vision. Despite lacking blazing speed, Pierce compensates with his ability to power through arm tackles and forced missed tackles. His lateral agility aligns perfectly with OC Bobby Slowik’s scheme, making him a significant part of the Texans’ ground game. With rookie QB C.J. Stroud under center, Pierce’s role is expected to expand, especially early in the season.

Isiah Pacheco – Kansas City Chiefs

Isiah Pacheco, who impressed as a training camp standout, found his stride later in his rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Labeled as the “Energizer Bunny” by Andy Reid, Pacheco demonstrated his ability as a bruising runner. Although he is playing behind Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Pacheco is poised to earn more playing time in Year 2. He brings a different dimension to the Chiefs’ pass-heavy offense, providing a changeup to exploit light defensive boxes.

Bijan Robinson – Washington Commanders

Bijan Robinson proved his resilience and talent in his rookie season with the Washington Commanders, becoming their workhorse back after overcoming injuries. The power back aims to improve his performance in 2023, focusing on becoming more than just a volume runner. However, the question remains about how Robinson’s power game aligns with OC Eric Bieniemy’s offensive system. Nonetheless, Robinson’s potential to be a multifaceted running back gives Washington’s offense an edge.

Rachaad White – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Following Leonard Fournette’s departure, Rachaad White is primed for a workhorse role in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense. The low-cost veteran Chase Edmonds is the only notable addition to the position, which sets the stage for White to shine. Despite facing inefficiencies in 2022, White’s size and pass-catching ability make him a suitable three-down back in OC Dave Canales’ offense. As the projected primary ball carrier, White has the opportunity to amass significant numbers in the upcoming season.

Breece Hall – New York Jets

Breece Hall’s rookie season with the New York Jets was cut short due to an ACL tear, raising questions about his recovery and performance in 2023. His dynamic dual-threat ability was evident through seven games, showcasing agility and speed. However, his return from the knee injury could impact his productivity early on. The presence of veteran Dalvin Cook, if added, might alter the workload for Hall. Despite his upside, his progress will be closely monitored to ensure he fully recovers from the injury.

Malik Davis – Dallas Cowboys

With Ezekiel Elliott’s departure and Tony Pollard’s injury concerns, Malik Davis could play a significant role for the Dallas Cowboys in the early part of the season. Although Davis showed flashes of potential in limited action during his rookie season, improving in pass protection will be vital for more playing time. Dallas might also add another veteran rusher before the regular season, which could impact Davis’ role in the backfield.

Jaylen Warren – Pittsburgh Steelers

Jaylen Warren made an impact as a backup to Najee Harris for the Pittsburgh Steelers in his rookie season. Down the stretch, Warren averaged an impressive 6.2 yards per carry in the final two games. The Steelers’ focus on preserving Harris might lead to an increased workload for Warren in 2023. While he currently plays as a backup, an injury to Harris could elevate Warren to the role of the primary ball carrier.

Zamir White – Las Vegas Raiders

Zamir White’s opportunity to shine in the Las Vegas Raiders’ offense depends on the status of Josh Jacobs, who hasn’t reported to training camp. White’s fit as a power runner in Josh McDaniels’ offense offers potential, but his progress is contingent on Jacobs’ situation and proving his reliability compared to veteran backs Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah. Although White showcased his potential in preseason last year, earning regular-season snaps is his primary challenge.

Kyren Williams – Los Angeles Rams

Kyren Williams has the opportunity to secure the No. 2 role behind Cam Akers following Sony Michel’s retirement. While he has competition in the form of sixth-round pick Zach Evans, Williams earned praise earlier this offseason from Sean McVay. If Williams can stay healthy, he might earn significant playing time, given the Rams’ emphasis on their youth movement. His performance in training camp and preseason action will determine his role in the team’s rushing attack.


The NFL’s Year 2 running backs present a diverse and talented group, each with unique strengths and challenges. Their progress in the 2023 NFL season will undoubtedly be a fascinating storyline for fans and analysts alike. As they continue to develop, these young rushers have the potential to make a significant impact on their respective teams and shape the landscape of the league’s rushing game.