Madden 18: All the best young running backs (RB)

No Madden team is complete without a good ground game. Which young RB's will give you a good foundation for years to come?

A great running back gives you all the power in a game. Need to drain the clock? No worries, run it. Want to rest your defense? Run it. Have to get the ball away from your own endzone? Run it. 

Not every team is blessed with the kind of running back that can put a whole offense on it’s back and carry them for a full game, and even fewer have a running back that will last for years.

How to choose the best young running backs on Madden’s Franchise Mode

We are looking for the best young running backs on Madden 18 Franchise Mode. Backs don’t have a long shelf life, so we are looking only at those aged 23 or younger, and the higher the stats the better. These are guys that can not only help your team win now but they can be incredibly useful players for the next five or six years, so no matter how deep you play into Franchise Mode, these guys are worth having.

For a full list of all the best young running backs please see the table at the bottom of the page

Ezekiel Elliott (OVR 92)

Age: 22

Team: Dallas Cowboys

Development Trait: Superstar

Contract: 3 years/$24.80m

2017 cap hit: $6.01m

Best stats: Speed 92, Agility 95, Elusiveness 85

There are few better than Elliott regardless of age. The Cowboys back has only been in the NFL two years but he has already amassed 2,314 yards rushing, 25 total touchdowns, and 12 100+ yard games.

While his 92 overall rating is the headline, his superstar development trait along with his big play ability, thanks to his speed and elusiveness, means you can pump that overall even higher with the right training drills. 

Elliott isn't the most powerful back around, but weighing in at 225 lbs and with a 79 trucking rating he can run over his fair share of defenders, but his 89 stiff arm means you should be mashing that A button, if anyone can get close to him that is.

Todd Gurley II (OVR 91)

Age: 23

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Development Trait: Quick

Contract: 2 years/$12m

2017 cap hit: $2.89m

Best stats: Speed 92, Agility 93, Elusiveness 88

Just a hair behind Elliott is Todd Gurley II. Drafted a year before Elliott, he is older and has less time on his contract, but he makes up for that with his elite performances on the field.

2017 saw Gurley dominate on the ground, with 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Rams. He was named First Team All-Pro due to the way he dictated the game to defenses, as well as his terrific production as a receiver out of the backfield. With a 72 catch rating, Gurley is one of the best at his position at creating an extra dimension for offenses by being a receiving threat.

He is more powerful than Elliott too, so if using the hit stick is your favorite way to beat defenders then his 83 trucking may interest you more than his 90 juke move.

Alvin Kamara (OVR 88)

Age: 22

Team: New Orleans Saints

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 4 years/$3.87m

2017 cap hit: $900k

Best stats: Speed 90, Acceleration 94, Route Running 81

If Elliott and Gurley are the "elite" tier of young running backs, then Alvin Kamara is heading up the next one. The 22-year-old rookie was electric for the New Orleans Saints in 2017, and his remarkable performances are reflected in his Madden 18 stats.

Last year Kamara led the NFL with 6.1 yards per carry, while catching 81 passes for a ridiculous 826 yards. He finished the year with 13 total touchdowns and 1,554 yards from scrimmage despite splitting time with veteran Mark Ingram.

That receiving production really sets Kamara apart. His catching stat is just two more than Todd Gurley (74), but he creates separation with his route running (81) and acceleration (94), both of which are the best among under-23 RB's.

Kareem Hunt (OVR 87)

Age: 22

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 4 years/$3.28m

2017 cap hit: $760k

Best stats: Speed 90, Acceleration 92, Carrying 94

Much like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt is a remarkably cheap player who has just completed an excellent first season in the NFL.

Despite his inexperience, Hunt ended up leading the NFL in rushing yards last season with 1,327. He found the endzone a total of 11 times and fumbled just once. That elite level of ball security is reflected in his excellent 94 carrying stat. After all, if you want to give your back the ball 20+ times a game you don't want him to start fumbling it away to the opposition.

Hunt's incredibly cheap contract is due to his low draft slot last year, and makes him a remarkably valuable player in the overall construction of any team. 

Leonard Fournette (OVR 85)

Age: 22

Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Development Trait: Superstar

Contract: 4 years/$27.29m

2017 cap hit: $6.62m

Best stats: Speed 91, Trucking 92, Carrying 91

While Kamara and Hunt are all speed and agility, Fournette is all speed (91) and strength (83). If you prefer the north-south approach to running the football then Leonard Fournette is the back for you. His 92 trucking is third-best among all backs, and #1 among backs under 30, nevermind 23.

But he isn't just a ball of muscle that runs over defenders, he can run away from them as well. Fournette put up 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last year even as every defense was focusing on stopping him.

The same will be true if you end up with Fournette as your back. Every opponent will have to load the box to try and bring him down, which will leave opportunities elsewhere.

Jordan Howard (OVR 84)

Age: 22

Team: Chicago Bears

Development Trait: Quick

Contract: 3 years/$2.58m

2017 cap hit: $620k

Best stats: Speed 90, Agility 89, Carrying 89

Jordan Howard's best trait is his lack of stand out trait. What does that mean? Well, it means he does everything well. To some that may sound like a negative, but to a seasoned Madden player it means the entire playbook is open when Howard is on the field. Runs up the middle, sweeps, pass blocking (65), splitting him wide to run a route... You can do it all with Howard, and that is not true of many running backs in the NFL.

Howard broke out in 2016 despite being just a fifth-round draft pick, and in his two years in the NFL he has become one of the most reliable players around. He has 2,435 yards on the ground in his two years and 16 total touchdowns in an offense that offered him very little help.

Howard is one of those backs that you can lean heavily on and will never break. With 91 acceleration, 87 trucking, and an 84 juke move he has multiple ways to get past defenders and find his way to the endzone.

Derrick Henry (OVR 83)

Age: 23

Team: Tennessee Titans

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 3 years/$5.40m

2017 cap hit: $1.27m

Best stats: Speed 89, Trucking 89, Carrying 90

Henry is a notch below Kamara, Hunt, Fournette, and Howard. His lack of speed can be a problem in creating big plays. His 87 agility and 88 acceleration make it harder for him to break away from defenses in the same way that others can. However, that doesn't mean he is useless.

Like Fournette, Henry is a strong runner (85) that can steamroll soft defenses and force teams to keep extra defenders in the box. While he has spent his career taking the lesser of a platoon with DeMarco Murray, he's still impressed with the ball in his hands, and he ruined the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs last season to the tune of 156 yards. 

Henry's greatest weakness is in the passing game, with catching and route running stats of 61 and 56 respectively, you're going to struggle to run a wide-open offense with him unless you take some time to develop that side of his game. Fortunately, it's pretty cheap to build up those traits.

Christian McCaffrey (OVR 83)

Age: 21

Team: Carolina Panthers

Development Trait: Superstar

Contract: 4 years/$17.30m

2017 cap hit: $4.11m

Best stats: Speed 91, Agility 96, Juke Move 92

Christian McCaffrey is the polar opposite of Derrick Henry. He's all quickness and catching, with very little power. But then who cares about a 54 trucking stat if you can just juke (92) would-be tacklers?

McCaffrey spent his rookie year catching passes rather than playing as a traditional running back, and his ability to lineup wide and win is reflected in his route running stat (80). His 80 receptions last year, along with 117 carries, didn't amount to a monstrous collection of yards, but as a Madden player his speed (91) and agility (96) can be killer if you are the kind of player that likes to run options, screens, and isolate linebackers.

Dalvin Cook (OVR 83)

Age: 22

Team: Minnesota Vikings

Development Trait: Superstar

Contract: 4 years/$6.37m

2017 cap hit: $1.51m

Best stats: Speed 90, Agility 92, Acceleration 92

Cook's 2017 season was cut short by a knee injury during his fourth game. However, he still managed to amass a ridiculous 354 yards on the ground at 4.8 yards per carry.

His strength in Madden 18 is his athleticism (92 agility). He is remarkably close to Kareem Hunt in that regard, however he lacks any elite moves to beat defenders. his 87 juke move is his best stat, but it doesn't stand out, and his 81 stiff arm and 75 trucking make it tough to overpower defenders. Cook is the kind of back that a strong Madden player can do very well with, but if you aren't seasoned enough to read your blocks quickly and spot your angles then he may not be for you.

The benefit of using Cook though, is that his superstar development trait means that if you're willing to put some time in during training, then you can quickly develop his moves and after a season or two create a monster back. You just have to be patient.

Joe Mixon (OVR 82)

Age: 21

Team: Cincinnati Bengals

Development Trait: Normal

Contract: 4 years/$5.47m

2017 cap hit: $1.29m

Best stats: Speed 91, Acceleration 93, Catching 73

Mixon is a little like Cook, an athlete without elite peripherals. Where Cook has an advantage in jukes and blocking, Mixon makes up for as a receiver (route running 65, catching 73).

He's not going to be mistaken for Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey when he runs routes (65), but his burst (93 acceleration) and catching (73) is enough to make him a threat as a receiver on more than just screen passes.

His rookie year was relatively unremarkable in the NFL as he put up 626 yards on the ground and pulled in 30 catches, but he was playing on a poor offense and sharing time in the backfield. Under your guidance though, he has all the potential to break out. At just 21 there is a lot of growth to come, and if you have a good passing game he can be the perfect compliment.

Other star young running backs





Development Trait


2017 cap hit

Duke Johnson Jr


Cleveland Browns





Kenyan Drake


Miami Dolphins





Alex Collins


Baltimore Ravens





Tarik Cohen


Chicago Bears





TJ Yeldon


Jacksonville Jaguars





Jamaal Williams


Green Bay Packers





Corey Clement


Philadelphia Eagles





Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?

Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.