Are Ezekiel Elliott And Tony Pollard The Best Running Back Duo In The NFL?

ezekiel elliott tony pollard

Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have dominated NFL defenses together since Pollard’s rookie year in 2019, but how does the tandem rank among the best in the NFL?

Here’s where they rank among the best RB duos in the league. Listed next to the players’ names are their combined yards from scrimmage and total touchdowns. 

A major caveat on this list is how the workload is shared between each back. The more even the total yardage, the closer to first place a duo will be.

MORE: Cowboys 2022 schedule | Depth chart

5. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram – 2,053 yards and 11 touchdowns

Kamara had a down year by his standards which was mainly caused by injuries that sidelined him for four games. But he still had 1,337 yards from scrimmage, nine touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl.

Ingram started his 2021 campaign with the Houston Texans before being traded back to the New Orleans Saints after playing with the team from 2011-2018. While Kamara is a dual-threat back, Ingram has a ground-and-pound style. 

The Hackensack, New Jersey-native rushed for 554 yards, which isn’t an impressive number on the surface, but switching teams and learning a new offense mid-season isn’t an easy task.

4. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines – 2,757 yards and 23 touchdowns

In 2021, Taylor’s second season as a pro, he had a career year. The former Wisconsin Badger had 1,811 rushing yards, 18 rushing touchdowns (both ranked first in the NFL) and 360 receiving yards. While it was carried mostly by the yards on the ground, Taylor also had the most all-purpose yards en route to an All-Pro selection.

It’s normal for RBs to miss games here and there through a season because the position is very punishing. But Taylor isn’t normal. He started all 17 games in 2021, which didn’t give Hines many opportunities to showcase his skills.

But when Hines did get snaps, he made the most of them. He rushed for 276 yards on 56 attempts, which was good for 4.9 yards per carry. Hines also tallied 310 receiving yards, 50 yards less than Taylor, but Taylor was also on the field for 415 more snaps than Hines.

3. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard – 2,345 yards and 14 touchdowns

This season will be the fourth, and possibly last, season Dallas fans are treated to this duo.

Elliott’s 1,002 rushing yards and 287 receiving yards made for a down year by his standards. Yet, he still finished with the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFL. 

A partially torn knee ligament in week four slowed the former Ohio State Buckeye down for the remainder of the year, but the injury won’t impact his health in 2022.

Pollard had a career year in 2021, posting 719 rushing yards and 337 receiving yards. The Memphis-native also had 489 kickoff return yards

Mike McCarthy has already made mention of getting Pollard snaps as a slot receiver in 2022 in an effort to get him and Elliott as much playing time as possible.

2. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt – 1,993 yards and 14 touchdowns

Chubb and Hunt are a great RB duo in the league for two reasons: the first is that they’re both starting-caliber backs. Chubb’s 3,280 rushing yards since 2019 are the third-most in the NFL, and he’s made three-consecutive Pro Bowls.

Hunt burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2017 with the Kansas City Chiefs. As a rookie, he led the NFL with 1,327 rushing yards and posted 11 total touchdowns

Hunt’s career took a turn when he was released from the Chiefs and suspended for eight games due to an NFL Personal Conduct Policy violation. Since joining the Cleveland Browns in 2018, Hunt has excelled as Chubb’s backup.

The second reason the Chubb-Hunt combo works is the way their playing styles complement each other. Chubb is a run-first back with average abilities as a pass catcher. But Hunt’s strength is catching the ball. Both finished with 174 receiving yards in 2021, but Chubb got 238 more snaps than Hunt did.

1. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon – 2,306 yards and 17 touchdowns

Jones and Dillon make for the most even duo on the list in terms of stats and snap count in 2021. 

Jones posted 799 rushing yards and 391 receiving yards while Dillon had 803 rushing yards and 313 receiving yards. Despite Jones getting 102 more snaps than Dillon, Dillon only trailed Jones by 74 all-purpose yards.

Jones got the nod as RB1 in 2021 likely because he was entering year five while Dillon was entering year two, but that may change this season seeing how even the backs were based on the stats, despite the difference in total snaps.