5 Greatest Running Backs in Patriots History

Sam Cunningham is one of the best Patriots RBs of all-time.
Sam Cunningham is one of the best Patriots RBs of all-time. / Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Over the past two decades, the New England Patriots have been the most successful franchise in the NFL. That's not really up for debate. The team's 20-year run is a level of dominance that will likely never be matched. But even before this latest period, the franchise had boasted some top-tier players across many different positions.

And running back is certainly no exception. With that in mind, here are the five greatest running backs in the franchise's storied history.

5. James White (2014-Present)

James White is a difficult player to evaluate for this list. It almost feels disingenuous to include him here as he contributes far more as a receiver than a traditional running back. Still, that's the position he plays, and he's accomplished too much to not get an acknowledgement here. White is a big-game player who always seems to contribute when it matters most, as evidenced by his performance in Super Bowl LI that saw him catch 14-of-16 targets for 110 yards and 1 TD, adding another 29 yards and 2 scores on the ground, including the game-winning TD. Call it recency bias, but White narrowly edges out Kevin Faulk, who played a similar role for the team.

4. Corey Dillon (2004-06)

Had Corey Dillon been in New England longer, and had he come over earlier in his career, he'd likely be much higher on this list. But like many recent Patriots greats, he only contributed for a few seasons before ultimately moving on (in his case, retiring). However, he didn't need more than a few seasons to leave his mark. His 2004 campaign is the best single-season rushing performance in franchise history, tallying 1,635 yards and 12 scores on a stellar 4.7 yards per carry. That performance helped lead the team to a ring in 2004. He stayed on for two more years, but was held below 1,000 yards each season.

3. Jim Nance (1965-71)

Jim Nance has the second-most rushing yards in franchise history with 5,323. He's actually the franchise's leader in rushing TDs though, scoring 45 across 94 games with the team. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro during his seven seasons with the team.

2. Sam Cunningham (1973-82)

His highs might not have been quite as high as some of the others on this list, but its impossible to discount just how effective Sam "Bam" Cunningham was for the Patriots. Arguably the most consistently productive RB in franchise history, Cunningham has the most rushing yards in team history (5,453) despite having just one campaign with 1,000-plus rushing yards. He's second in team history with 43 scores, and was a one-time Pro Bowler in New England.

1. Curtis Martin (1995-97)

Like Dillon, Curtis Martin would've likely held quite a few records in New England had he been there longer. He was only there for three seasons, but unlike Dillon, he was wildly productive in each season. Martin amassed at least 1,450 yards from scrimmage in each year with the team, and his 1,487 rushing yards in 1995 are the second-best single-season performance in franchise history, trailing only Dillon. He averaged a franchise-best 84.4 rushing yards per contest across those three years – a full 10.4 higher than the second-best mark in that category.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.