Ranking the top 5 running backs in the AFC West for the 2024 season

Where do Broncos running backs rank among the rest of the AFC West?
Denver Broncos, AFC West
Denver Broncos, AFC West / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

When you look across the entirety of the NFL, it might not be a hot take to say that the AFC West has the worst collection of running backs out of any division in the entire league. And unfortunately, the Denver Broncos contribute to that.

The AFC West used to be an absolute hotbed for the best backs in the NFL, whether we're talking about the Broncos churning out 1,000-yard rushers, the Chiefs in an era with guys like Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson, or the Chargers boasting one of the all-time greats in LaDanian Tomlinson. That was then, though.

Now? Well, let's do our best to sift through the names and identify the five best running backs in the AFC West going into the 2024 season.

Top 5 running backs in the AFC West in 2024 season: Broncos have two names on the list

5. Samaje Perine, Denver Broncos

When it comes to all-around running backs, Samaje Perine is unfortunately far too underutilized. At least, as a member of the Denver Broncos last year, he was. Perine was one of the best pass-catching running backs in the NFL last season, especially when the Broncos threw him out there on the field in two-minute drill. Still, he only carried the ball 53 total times. Given his effectiveness (4.5 yards per carry), perhaps the Broncos should consider handing him the rock a little more.

He caught 50 passes last season for 455 yards and was arguably Russell Wilson's favorite target.

4. Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders were confident enough in Zamir White after what they saw last season to let former Pro Bowl and All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs leave in NFL free agency (Green Bay Packers). The faith being put in Zamir White is not unfounded, as the Denver Broncos found out last year. He ran for 451 yards and a touchdown on just over 100 carries.

He's going to be the featured back in Las Vegas this year and the Raiders also have Alexander Mattison to work with.

3. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

Let's just say that last season was a brutal year for Javonte Williams. The biggest success of last season for Williams is that he was able to come back and play the whole year after a brutal knee injury in 2022 against the Raiders.

Williams' return to the field was admirable, but his ability to create yardage after contact -- the very thing that makes him a great player -- was missing. The Broncos definitely need the guy we saw in 2021 to return in 2024, but whether or not that happens remains to be seen. Williams has the talent to be the best running back in the AFC West but if he's not healthy or not explosive, it's going to be another rough year.

2. Gus Edwards, Los Angeles Chargers

Gus Edwards offers very little in the passing game as a receiver but the Los Angeles Chargers aren't going to ask him to replace Austin Ekeler. They want him to come in and do what he does best, which is grind out tough yardage between the tackles and finish drives.

And few players in the NFL were better at that last year. Edwards racked up 13 rushing touchdowns in 2023, the most of any year in his career. He averaged just 4.1 yards per carry with the Ravens, so having an expanded role, it will be interesting to see how he fares with Jim Harbaugh instead of John Harbaugh.

1. Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

Believe it or not, Pacheco is one of only two players on this list with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage last season. The other player with over 1,000 scrimmage yards last season on this list? Broncos running back Javonte Williams.

Isiah Pacheco is, pound-for-pound, one of the toughest backs in the NFL. And he's super effective in the role the Chiefs ask him to play. He had 1,179 yards from scrimmage last year with seven rushing touchdowns and a pair of receiving touchdowns.

Sadly, Pacheco might be the most effective all-around back in the AFC West right now.