Who is/was the best all-purpose RB of all time?

Since the title was, “all-purpose”, I think pass blocking should be a thing too and he was very good at it.

Roger Craig
Ricky Watters

Del The Funkee Shofnosapian was a helluva Running Back.

Roger Craig came to mind first.
Marshal Faulk was incredible for three years, great overall.

Marcus Allen is another.

Don’t forget, the Raiders drafted Bo Jackson while Allen was in his prime… They made him a friggen fullback…

I always targeted Allen in my FF leagues. Him having less than 1000 yards rushing would make people pass on him yet he was always one of the highest points scoring backs. His all around abilities and his TD production always made him valuable. He helped me win several championships.

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If I were a RB coach at any level, I’d have my guys watch Payton cut ups of all the runs where instead of being run out of bounds by the defender, he ran them to the sideline, then cut back usually giving them a forearm shiver and getting a lot of extra yards most RB’s don’t get because they just get what they can and scoot out of bounds. I get self preservation on not getting tackled, but Payton wrote the book on that maneuver and it got him and the Bears a lot of plus yardage.

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Payton was also a devastating blocker and could throw with both arms. All purpose back right? Those skills count too.


That is bending reality. First of all, Bo Jackson didn’t play for the Raiders until 1987. Which means the 1986 season where Allen ran for 3.6ypc had already happened. Much of his career at that point followed the same pattern. Second, Bo was a baseball player who was not a full time football player. So Bo wouldn’t arrive until the baseball season was wrapped up. Meaning he didn’t get into the mix until mid-season. Here are his game by game numbers in the years that Bo played, but focusing only on the games where Bo was off playing baseball so he wasn’t a factor. Pay special attention the yards per carry.

Gale Sayers

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There were definitely years where he could have been sneaky productive from a FF scoring standpoint, if you were able to get him with a value pick instead of a premium pick. Of course we are talking about who is the greatest of all time at something, not who was the best value pick.


That’s true, but the Raiders were also terrible those years minus 1990… Here’s an excerpt from the PFRA

By 1987, the tide turned for Allen as a member of the Los Angeles Raiders. With the arrival of Bo Jackson, Allen’s playing time began to diminish.

Over the next few years, once Jackson came to the team after his baseball season concluded, Allen became an observer while the two-sport star Jackson got the bulk of playing time. A knee injury forced Allen to miss a good portion of the 1989 season and the next three seasons were as a backup. A nasty contract dispute with Al Davis did not help, and after bitter words were volleyed back and forth between the sides, Allen wanted to be traded.

He then was traded to KC, rushed for 12 TDs, went to the AFC Championship game and won comeback player of the year.

His best days were earlier in the 80s, no doubt, but Bo impacted his stats in a way we will never be able to measure. In 85 he ran for almost 1800 yards, caught over 60 balls (3rd year in a row doing that) and accounted for 15 TDs and won MVP… He’s definitely on my short list.


I realize Allen is seen as a legend who lasted forever in the NFL. I am just pointing out the reality that he had 4 good seasons and then was “okay” for over a decade after that. He had 12 TDs…Jamaal Williams had 17. The 1985 season is part of what changed the trajectory of his career. He had (450) touches that year. There is a graveyard full of backs that never quite recovered after (400) touches in a season. He had over (200) carries in each of the next (3) seasons and had yards per carry of 3.6, 3.7 and 3.8. Kudos to him for sticking it out. Maybe Bo Jackson helped keep some of the miles off of the treads while Allen learned to take care of himself?

Larry Johnson

Jamaal Anderson

Eddie George

Barry Foster

Shaun Alexander

Deuce McAllister

Josh Jacobs

Maurice Jones-Drew

Thurman Thomas gets my vote as best all-around! Dude was amazing!


Faulk was 0 for 2 in the passing department so Payton wins that battle.

There was this fellow out in LA that was pretty good. May have heard of him. Called himself Eric Dickerson.



Honorable mention? He coulda been the guy.


Marcus Allen had less than 100 carries 3 out of the last 4 years as a Raider and his production immediately improved once he got to KC. The last 3 years in KC, he averaged over 4ypc, that’s at age 35-37… Much better than “okay”. He played for 16 seasons, never averaged below 3.6 ypc, averaged over 4 ypc in 9 seasons including 5 out of the 7 seasons over age 30. The Raiders robbed him of a lot more production in his prime through their mismanagement and there’s really no question about that.

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  1. Bo Jackson was not a Raider in any of those years.
  2. In 2 of those seasons, he was injured. That’s why he lacked the carry’s.
  3. The other season was his last one as a Raider. He sat behind Eric Dickerson, who was the starter.

He averaged 3.7 yards per carry his first year in KC and 3.75 yards per carry his second year in KC. I guess you have a different definition of “immediately improved?” For his career in KC he averaged a total of 3.96 yards per carry.

That’s your shining endorsement…never averaging below 3.6 yards per carry? He spent half of his career at or below 3.8 yards per carry.

Ah…just proclaim “nobody can question that!” His prime ended after the spectacular 1985 season. Bo wasn’t on the team in 1986. Allen averaged 3.6 yards per carry. In 1985 his longest run was 61 yards. In 1986 his longest run was 28 yards.

I stand by my statement. Marcus had a great start to his career but his overall numbers are based on longevity.

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