PFF Running Back Rankings: Top 32 ahead of the 2024 NFL season

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17. JAMES CONNER, ARIZONA CARDINALS

Many were surprised when James Conner signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2022, despite his scoring 15 touchdowns a season prior, but Conner has slowly been paying back the Cardinals. That culminated in a career year in 2023, in which he rushed for 1,040 yards while averaging 5.0 yards per carry and scored seven rushing touchdowns.

Conner’s 89.2 grade ranked fourth among running backs in 2023, and his 3.93 yards after contact placed second, behind De’Von Achane. It’s unlikely that those lofty numbers will carry over, but Conner has been a plus for the Cardinals' offense.
 

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17. JAMES CONNER, ARIZONA CARDINALS

Many were surprised when James Conner signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals in 2022, despite his scoring 15 touchdowns a season prior, but Conner has slowly been paying back the Cardinals. That culminated in a career year in 2023, in which he rushed for 1,040 yards while averaging 5.0 yards per carry and scored seven rushing touchdowns.

Conner’s 89.2 grade ranked fourth among running backs in 2023, and his 3.93 yards after contact placed second, behind De’Von Achane. It’s unlikely that those lofty numbers will carry over, but Conner has been a plus for the Cardinals' offense.
His 89.2 grade ranks him 4th.....

But they put him at 17
 

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His 89.2 grade ranks him 4th.....

But they put him at 17
Looking at his career overall, they're not that far off.

I know my take on Conner isn't popular, but he's generally a pedestrian guy with a lot of opportunity when healthy. I've always argued he's better off as part of a group, which he'll have now, so I bet he'll be alright.

There's only 1-2 players I'd list him ahead of on the PFF list, but a couple I'd list ahead of him, so the ranking seems about right.
 

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Looking at his career overall, they're not that far off.

I know my take on Conner isn't popular, but he's generally a pedestrian guy with a lot of opportunity when healthy. I've always argued he's better off as part of a group, which he'll have now, so I bet he'll be alright.

There's only 1-2 players I'd list him ahead of on the PFF list, but a couple I'd list ahead of him, so the ranking seems about right.
Our outstanding online helps too.

But you would think a company that makes its money on a player rating system would trust their own system enough to rank players based on how their own system rates them.
 

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The rankings are for the 2024 season, not for past seasons. It's their forecast of where they believe each RB will be for the 2024 season. I think Connor is ranked just about where he should be. Benson is going to take carries away from Connor especially as the season progresses.

If Benson is all that he is supposed to be, Conner will probably not be a Cardinal in 2025.
 

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The rankings are for the 2024 season, not for past seasons. It's their forecast of where they believe each RB will be for the 2024 season. I think Connor is ranked just about where he should be. Benson is going to take carries away from Connor especially as the season progresses.

If Benson is all that he is supposed to be, Conner will probably not be a Cardinal in 2025.
Well if Conner gets less snaps not due to injuries then he will be stronger and possibly more effective which is a scary thought for opposing teams.
 
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I saw this earlier while looking at news on my phone. I had to laugh.

Aaron Jones? Travis Etienne?? Tony Pollard??? Isiah Pacheco????

All ranked above James Conner???? Child Please!!!
I don't have a real problem with those two. I do the other two though.
 

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I saw this earlier while looking at news on my phone. I had to laugh.

Aaron Jones? Travis Etienne?? Tony Pollard??? Isiah Pacheco????

All ranked above James Conner???? Child Please!!!

I get blowing Pollard out of the debate and can see an argument either way with Jones but “Child please!??!” with the other two? Come on man.

Pacheco and Etienne are just as productive (Pacheco) if not MUCH more so (Etienne’s 1500 total yards completely blows Conner away), younger and less injury prone than Connor.
 
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I like Conner but the highest he's getting here is 13th.

You can argue about Mostert, Pacheco, Pollard and Williams but after that those other guys are better. It's all very close though.

And there are a number of guys behind him you could argue should be higher.
 

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I get blowing Pollard out of the debate and can see an argument either way with Jones but “Child please!??!” with the other two? Come on man.

Pacheco and Etienne are just as productive (Pacheco) if not MUCH more so (Etienne’s 1500 total yards completely blows Conner away), younger and less injury prone than Connor.

I was just having some fun with a classic Ocho Cinco line. Wasn't meant to be taken serious.

As for Etienne being just as productive? Maybe if you consider receiving as well which this article didn't appear to do. With that said I will take Conner's 5.0 YPC over Etienne's 3.8 YPC any day of the week. Not to mention that in 2024 Conner averaged 80 YPG vs 59.3 YPG rushing for Etienne.

Again this article was for Best RBs in 2024 only. Not future seasons. Would I take Pacheco and Etienne in 2025 and beyond? Yes, obviously since they still have a future in this league and Conner in 2025 is not under contract and will be most likely be approaching the end of his career at age 29.
 

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But he just turned 29 so he won't be 30 until next season.
But he's 29 already and his next birthday will he 30. Do men magically decline on their 30th birthday? He's told by RB standards. By the end of the long grueling season he'll be way closer to his 30th than his 29th. Age doesn't care about semantics, especially for someone who went through chemo. He's a beast, but age doesn't care unless you cheat. I cheat proudly, but I doubt James does.

Benson should see an even work load by the end of the season if he's as good as advertised.
 

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But he's 29 already and his next birthday will he 30. Do men magically decline on their 30th birthday? He's told by RB standards. By the end of the long grueling season he'll be way closer to his 30th than his 29th. Age doesn't care about semantics, especially for someone who went through chemo. He's a beast, but age doesn't care unless you cheat. I cheat proudly, but I doubt James does.

Benson should see an even work load by the end of the season if he's as good as advertised.
I don’t discount Conner. He is a big dude built like a truck with good knees.

I can see him having 3 more years playing at a high level. We will reduce load or that’s what I’m hoping. I hope he retires a Cardinal.
 

MadCardDisease

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But he's 29 already and his next birthday will he 30. Do men magically decline on their 30th birthday? He's told by RB standards. By the end of the long grueling season he'll be way closer to his 30th than his 29th. Age doesn't care about semantics, especially for someone who went through chemo. He's a beast, but age doesn't care unless you cheat. I cheat proudly, but I doubt James does.

Benson should see an even work load by the end of the season if he's as good as advertised.
Yeah but the chart that you referenced showed yards after 30. Conner was 28 a month ago. He has a full year before he hits 30.

At the end of 2023, in the final two games against teams fighting for a playoff spot, Conner put up 128 yards rushing against the Eagles and 150 yards rushing against the Seahawks. It doesn't look like he is hitting a wall.

Also I went through Chemo at the age of 29 and was able to bounce back physically within a few months to where I was running races again. It's not like Chemo ages you, it knocks you down for a short period of time but younger people's bodies have the ability to bounce back. When I spoke with Conner at my friends house I found out that we went through very similar treatments. We both were treated for Lymphoma at a younger age.
 

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I don’t discount Conner. He is a big dude built like a truck with good knees.

I can see him having 3 more years playing at a high level. We will reduce load or that’s what I’m hoping. I hope he retires a Cardinal.
Based on your own assessment here, #17 is spot on. No longer a featured back, but still brings value in the backfired.
 

bankybruce

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Yeah but the chart that you referenced showed yards after 30. Conner was 28 a month ago. He has a full year before he hits 30.

At the end of 2023, in the final two games against teams fighting for a playoff spot, Conner put up 128 yards rushing against the Eagles and 150 yards rushing against the Seahawks. It doesn't look like he is hitting a wall.

Also I went through Chemo at the age of 29 and was able to bounce back physically within a few months to where I was running races again. It's not like Chemo ages you, it knocks you down for a short period of time but younger people's bodies have the ability to bounce back. When I spoke with Conner at my friends house I found out that we went through very similar treatments. We both were treated for Lymphoma at a younger age.
Chemo absolutely ages you.

But in some cases, it can cause permanent changes or damage to the heart, lungs, nerves, kidneys, and reproductive or other organs.

As does cancer.

And yes, being 29 into 30 will start to see a drop off. I'm not saying he's done. But #17 given all that is beyond fair.
 
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