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NFL running back rankings Week 12: Tony Pollard ascends the list

Vincent Frank

NFL running back rankings Week 12 edition. We’ve seen a ton of players at this position perform at a high clip over the past several weeks.

Saquon Barkley has returned to pre-injury form for the surprising New York Giants and looks like a true All-Pro. Multi-time rushing champion Derrick Henry is turning in a tremendous 2022 season. Meanwhile, Tony Pollard is making some big noise for the Dallas Cowboys.

It’s in this that we provide you our NFL running back rankings heading into Week 12 of the 2022 season.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL wide receiver rankings for Week 12

10. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

nfl running back rankings: tony pollard
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
  • Tony Pollard stats: 118 attempts, 701 rushing yards, 5.9 average, 21 receptions, 243 yards, 944 total yards, 8 TD

Pollard has officially entered the chat. The former mid-round pick from Memphis has tallied 464 total yards with six touchdowns over just the past three games. Those are some absolutely absurd numbers.

This past week in a blowout win over the Minnesota Vikings, Pollard actually caught six passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Heading into Week 12, he’s on pace for north of 1,600 total yards and has officially overtaken Ezekiel Elliott as RB1 in Big D.

Related: Sportsnaut’s Week 12 NFL QB rankings

9. Kenneth Walker, Seattle Seahawks

nfl running back rankings; kenneth walker
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Kenneth Walker stats: 121 attempts, 587 rushing yards, 4.9 average, 18 receptions, 103 yards, 690 total yards, 7 TD

Since taking over for the injured Rashaad Penny, this reigning Heisman finalist has looked every bit the part of the NFL Rookie of the Year. In fact, he’s tied the great Curt Warner for the most consecutive games among rookies with rushing touchdowns (five) in Seahawks history.

With that said, Walker is coming off an ugly 17-yard performance in which he averaged 1.7 yards per rush against the Buccameers. In the four games prior to that, Walker tallied 424 rushing yards at a clip of 4.8 yards per run while scoring six touchdowns.

8. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

nfl running back rankings: aaron jones, green bay packers
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
  • Aaron Jones stats: 143 attempts, 778 rushing yards, 5.4 average, 40 receptions, 248 yards, 1,026 total yards, 5 TD

Jones has been able to play in all 11 games this season despite dealing with nagging injuries. That paid off big time back in Week 10 with the Pro Bowler putting up 138 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s surprising win over the Cowboys.

Through 11 games, this former mid-round pick is on pace for what would be a career-high 1,600 total yards. It has him as one of the best NFL running backs heading into Week 12.

Related: Sportsnaut’s Week 12 NFL offense rankings

7. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

nfl running back rankings: travis etienne
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
  • Travis Etienne stats: 131 attempts, 725 rushing yards, 5.5 average, 22 receptions, 202 yards, 927 total yards, 4 TD

Some questioned Jacksonville’s decision to deal James Robinson ahead of the trade deadline. Apparently, head coach Doug Pederson and general manager Trent Baalke knew what they had in Etienne, because, he’s been dominant since.

In the three games since said trade, the former first-round pick from Clemson has registered 361 total yards and three touchdowns. Etienne is now on pace for north of 1,500 yards as a sophomore. That’s insane given he missed his entire rookie season and it has Etienne in the top five of our most-recent NFL running back rankings.

6. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

nfl running back rankings; josh jacobs
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
  • Josh Jacobs stats: 183 attempts, 930 rushing yards, 5.1 average, 34 receptions, 251 yards, 1,181 total yards, 7 TD

Yet another impending free agent, Jacobs also couldn’t have picked a better time to enjoy a career-best performance. He’s also one of the only feel-good stories for a disappointing Raiders team this season. That includes four 100-yard rushing performances through 10 games.

Jacobs, 24, is averaging a resounding 2.9 yards after contact, up from 2.0 a season ago. He also has 258 yards after the catch through the air, which is simply insane given that Jacobs has put up 251 receiving yards on the season. Yeah, this former first-round pick from Alabama is on one right now.

Related: Week 12 NFL power rankings

NFL running back rankings: The elite five

5. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings

nfl running back rankings: dalvin cook
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
  • Dalvin Cook stats: 156 attempts, 799 rushing yards, 5.1 average, 22 receptions, 146 yards, 945 total yards, 7 TD

Consistently good. That’s been the name of the game for Cook since Minnesota made him a second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Florida State product has tallied north of 1,300 total yards in each of the past three seasons. He’s now on pace to do just that again in 2022 despite dealing with nagging injuries.

Despite his Vikings being blown out by Dallas in Week 11, Cook still averaged 6.6 yards on 11 attempts. He just didn’t get the touches with Minnesota playing from behind the starters all but pulled from this game in the second half.

4. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

nfl running back rankings: nick chubb
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Nick Chubb stats: 174 attempts, 923 rushing yards, 5.3 average, 16 receptions, 136 yards, 1,059 total yards, 11 TD

Speaking of our NFL running back rankings, Chubb could very well be higher if it weren’t for the other two listed below. After all, we’re talking about a dude who has put up north of 100 rushing yards five times in eight games this season. That’s no small thing with Cleveland still waiting to get quarterback Deshaun Watson back from suspension.

After averaging nearly 1,400 total yards in each of his first four seasons, Chubb is in the midst of a career-best performance. He leads NFL running backs with 11 touchdowns and is averaging 2.7 yards after contact. That’s some elite-level stuff.

3. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

nfl running back rankings: christian mccaffrey
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  • Christian McCaffrey stats: 125 attempts, 563 rushing yards, 4.5 average, 47 receptions, 395 yards, 958 total yards, 6 TD

After playing in all of 10 games over the past two seasons, McCaffrey has returned to form as one of the top NFL running backs in the game. That’s now on the verge of being taken to a whole new level since he was acquired by San Francisco in a blockbuster trade with the Carolina Panthers.

CMC made his initial impact with the 49ers in a Week 8 outing in which he threw a touchdown, ran for another score and caught a touchdown from Jimmy Garoppolo. In four games with the 49ers, McCaffrey has tallied 394 yards with three touchdowns at a clip of 5.8 yards per touch. He’s on pace for north of 1,800 total yards and 92 receptions. That seems pretty decent.

2. Saquon Barkley, New York GIants

nfl running back rankings: saquon barkley
Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports
  • Saquon Barkley stats: 213 attempts, 953 rushing yards, 4.5 average, 31 receptions, 210 yards, 1,163 total yards, 6 TD

Sensing a theme here? Multiple players in our Week 11 NFL running back rankings have returned to form after recent injuries. Barkley, 25, has put up triple-digit yardage six times in nine games. He’s catching 80% of his targets in the passing game and has only put the ball on the turf one time this season.

A dual-threat if there ever was one, Barkley’s performance is one of the reasons New York finds itself at a surprising 7-2. His absurd 35-rush, 152-yard outing in a Week 10 win over the Houston Texans adds another layer to this, and it has Barkley No. 2 in our most-recent NFL running back rankings despite some struggles in Week 11.

Related: Top 100 NFL players of 2022

1. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

nfl running back rankings: derrick henry
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Derrick Henry stats: 230 attempts, 1,010 rushing yards, 4.4 average, 18 receptions, 199 yards, 1,209 total yards, 10 TD

The NFL rushing champ in 2019 and 2020 before an injury-plagued 2021 campaign, Henry has more than returned to earlier-career form. He leads the league in rush attempts, rushing yards, rushing yards per game and total touches. That’s just insane.

More to the point. Henry has put up a seven-game span that’s seen him tally 818 rushing yards at a clip of 4.7yards per while scoring eight touchdowns. He’s on pace for 2,055 total yards, which would represent his second career 2,000-yard season.