EDITOR'S UPDATE: This article was published prior to the Los Angeles Rams trading running back Cam Akers to the Minnesota Vikings, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday. The teams will swap late-round picks in 2026.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay confirmed on Monday that talks were underway, noting general manager Les Snead has spoken with multiple teams. Akers was a healthy scratch for the team's Week 2 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported a difficult week of practice led up to Akers being inactive for the game. He rushed for 29 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries as the Rams' starter in Week 1.
It seems like the relationship has finally run its course. Last October, the Rams also fielded calls for Akers ahead of the trade deadline. He stayed on the roster and made seven starts to close out the season, rushing for 100-plus yards in each of the final three contests.
I’ll be shocked if Jonathan Taylor suits up for the Colts this season. He'll be on the PUP list for at least two more weeks and he was granted permission to seek a trade in August. I just don't see the two sides reconciling. Now, Zack Moss performed well in the Colts’ win over Houston on Sunday, rushing for 88 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. There’s hope he can succeed as the team's top back, especially with Anthony Richardson posing such a threat in the run game (when healthy). The Colts still need depth at the position and Akers would be an upgrade over backups Deon Jackson and Jake Funk. If Indianapolis wants to support its young QB and be competitive in the AFC South, a deal for Akers would help on both fronts.
The Bucs are playing well as one of the three unbeaten teams in the NFC South (Falcons and Saints are the others). Rachaad White bounced back from a quiet start to the season with 103 scrimmage yards and a TD on 22 touches in a win over the Bears, but I believe the Bucs need more from the backfield, which also includes Chase Edmonds -- who is currently dealing with a knee injury -- and rookie Sean Tucker. The Bucs are in position to make a run at the division crown and having depth at the position will be crucial. Akers could play a significant role in helping Tampa Bay continue to surprise people this season.
It’s now been two weeks. After posting just 41 rush yards in a loss to the Buccaneers, Minnesota rushed for a measly 28 yards in a prime-time defeat to the Eagles. Alexander Mattison isn’t getting it done with 62 rush yards and a fumble over the first two games. The offensive line also hasn’t helped, but the league's worst rushing offense can't waste any more time trying to figure it out after an 0-2 start. Signing guard Dalton Risner is a start. Bringing in an explosive back like Akers could be the next step.
As I mentioned last week, the Ravens could still use an explosive ball-carrier like Akers to pair with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill now that J.K. Dobbins is out for the season. Edwards and Hill have both made significant contributions to Baltimore's 2-0 start, but Akers is a stronger runner than Hill and smoother in space than Edwards. Akers could make this a more versatile unit, providing Lamar Jackson with a pass-catching weapon out of the backfield. While the Ravens are alone in first place in the AFC North right now, we know there's a long way to go and the race for the title should be extremely competitive. Bolstering the backfield makes too much sense.
The Browns weren’t on this list prior to their Week 2 loss to the Steelers, but Nick Chubb is expected to miss the rest of the season after sustaining a knee injury on Monday night. It’s a huge loss for a Browns offense still working out the kinks with Deshaun Watson under center. Chubb was the ultimate producer, ranking third in carries (1,238), second in rush yards (6,511) and second in rush TDs (48) since 2018. Akers would be a perfect fit in Cleveland given his familiarity in an outside zone scheme. While Jerome Ford stepped up in a big way on Monday night -- with 106 rush yards on 16 carries and 25 receiving yards, including a 3-yard TD, on three catches -- the Browns need to provide him with some relief. They might prefer to go the free-agency route, as Kareem Hunt -- who remains on the open market after spending the previous four seasons with Cleveland -- visited the team on Tuesday, but Akers would do well here, too.
EDITOR'S UPDATE: The Browns agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Hunt, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday.
Top 15 running backs
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 3.
2023 stats: 2 games | 42 att | 268 rush yds | 6.4 ypc | 2 rush TD | 6 rec | 36 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
It seems like McCaffrey is breaking a long run every time I look at the 49ers' offense. He had a 51-yard sprint that saw him reach 20.92 mph late in the first quarter of Sunday's win -- his fastest speed as a ball-carrier since Week 8 of the 2019 season, per Next Gen Stats. He has now recorded at least 100 scrimmage yards in eight of his 12 starts for San Francisco. You think the trade for CMC was worth it? I'll say!
2023 stats: 2 games | 29 att | 180 rush yds | 6.2 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 10 rec | 75 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Bijan Robinson is the real deal. His 172 scrimmage yards in a narrow win over Green Bay -- with nearly 100 coming in the second half -- are the fourth-most for a Falcons rookie all time and the most since William Andrews’ 189 yards in 1979. Finding a majority of his success outside of the tackles, Robinson gained +56 rushing yards over expected on Sunday, which is the third most in a game this season, per Next Gen Stats.
2023 stats: 2 games | 14 att | 142 rush yds | 3.6 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 9 rec | 49 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
The Cowboys ran 83 offensive plays in a Week 2 romp over the Jets, with Pollard recording a career-high 32 touches for 109 scrimmage yards, including 72 on the ground. Dallas has an 18-2 record when Pollard has more than 70 scrimmage yards in a game. The two losses came in overtime contests. Keep feeding your new RB1.
2023 stats: 2 games | 28 att | 170 rush yds | 6.1 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 4 rec | 21 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Chubb was off to a great start in 2023 before he sustained a serious knee injury early in the second quarter of Monday night’s loss to Pittsburgh. He racked up 64 yards on 10 carries for an impressive 6.4 yards a pop in Week 2 prior to the injury. This will be his last week in my rankings now that he's expected to miss the rest of the season. I wish him all the best in his recovery.
2023 stats: 2 games | 40 att | 143 rush yds | 3.6 ypc | 1 rush TD | 5 rec | 71 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
As it always does, the rushing attack set the tone for the Titans’ offense in Sunday’s overtime win over a good Chargers team. Henry paved the way, toting the rock 25 times for 80 yards and a score, and opened the play-action pass for Ryan Tannehill. This is when the offense is at its best, though it is still far from its peak.
2023 stats: 2 games | 29 att | 178 rush yds | 6.1 ypc | 1 rush TD | 4 rec | 6 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
One week after posting one carry for three rush yards in his Eagles debut, Swift had himself a day stepping up for an injured Kenneth Gainwell. He made the most of his opportunity and ran all over Minnesota’s defensive front for a career-high 175 rush yards. His days of getting one carry in Philly should be over.
2023 stats: 2 games | 37 att | 146 rush yds | 3.9 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 3 rec | 49 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Robinson was instrumental on Sunday in Washington's rally from an 18-point deficit against the Broncos, finishing with a career-best 129 scrimmage yards, including 74 rush yards and a pair of touchdowns in the second half. The Commanders have clawed their way to two hard-fought wins, but a visit from Buffalo in Week 3 will be their biggest test yet.
2023 stats: 2 games | 29 att | 169 rush yds | 5.8 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 8 rec | 53 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
It looks like the Bills have finally found the RB1 who will provide the offense balance. Cook registered a career-high 123 rush yards in Sunday’s win over the Raiders, the most by a Bills running back since LeSean McCoy’s 156 yards in Week 4 of 2017. Cook’s 222 scrimmage yards through the first two weeks are the most by a Bills RB since 2012. It feels good to finally be talking about a Bills running back again.
2023 stats: 2 games | 31 att | 123 rush yds | 4.0 ypc | 2 rush TDs | 3 rec | 19 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Bijan Robinson was the go-to player in the Falcons’ backfield in Week 2, but Allgeier still logged 48 yards on 16 carries (3.0 yards per carry) in the win. The Falcons have the league's fourth-ranked rushing attack heading into Week 3, and Allgeier will continue to be a big part of it.
2023 stats: 2 games | 30 att | 117 rush yds | 3.9 ypc | 1 rush TD | 7 rec | 29 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Etienne took nearly all of the Jaguars’ carries on Sunday before he started cramping in the fourth quarter. Although he wasn’t as productive as he was in Week 1, he should bounce back in Week 3 against a Texans defense that just gave up three rushing TDs to the Colts.
2023 stats: 2 games | 37 att | 141 rush yds | 3.8 ypc | 2 rush TD | 1 rec | 7 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 1 fumble lost
Before exiting the game late with a thigh bruise, Montgomery was leading the Lions in the run game, rushing for 67 yards, including a 4-yard scamper into the end zone, on 16 carries. I’m hoping he truly is “day to day” and won’t miss a “couple weeks” as he first suggested after Sunday’s loss.
2023 stats: 2 games | 28 att | 158 rush yds | 5.6 ypc | 3 rush TD | 3 rec | 19 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Mostert had himself a day against the Patriots, rushing for 121 yards and a pair of scores. The veteran is capable of providing this kind of balance week in and week out, and if he does it consistently, this Miami offense feels nearly unstoppable.
2023 stats: 1 game | 9 att | 41 rush yds | 4.6 ypc | 1 rush TD | 2 rec | 86 rec yds | 1 rec TD | 0 fumbles lost
Jones remains on my list despite not playing in Week 2 due to a hamstring injury. He was so dominant in Week 1 and his absence was felt in the team’s first loss of the season. The offense lacked that explosive element out of the backfield and in the pass game at times. The Packers reportedly worked out several free agent running backs this week, but hopefully Jones is able to return to the field sooner rather than later.
2023 stats: 2 games | 14 att | 136 rush yds | 9.7 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 1 rec | 20 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
After a monster Week 1 outing, Hall had just four carries(!) in the Jets’ loss to Dallas. I understand his frustration with his lack of touches, considering the game didn’t fully get away from New York until midway through the third quarter. Hall must get going early in games if the Jets want to have some success offensively with Zach Wilson at quarterback.
2023 stats: 2 games | 14 att | 59 rush yds | 4.2 ypc | 0 rush TDs | 9 rec | 57 rec yds | 0 rec TDs | 0 fumbles lost
Gibbs made the most of his plays against the Seahawks as a pass catcher with a team-high nine targets and seven receptions, but he turned those opportunities into just 39 yards. The rookie has had just seven carries in each of the first two games, but he will likely step into a bigger role in the rushing attack with David Montgomery dealing with a thigh injury.