Madden 23: 10 Best Star Abilities For Running Backs

Being able to effectively rush the ball is essential for success in Madden 23. Establishing a solid run game keeps defenses guessing and doesn’t let them get too comfortable in stopping your offense. And the best way to establish the run is with ball carriers equipped with star abilities.

Star abilities are granted to top-tier players who have the talents to elevate their games beyond the normal footballer. These abilities range from increases in their evasive maneuvers or overall toughness. A rusher who’s gifted with a star ability should be feared by defenses and revered by offenses. We take a look at the best star abilities to have for running backs and how they can help take your game to the next level.

10 Closer

Although there are a few running backs with star abilities, there are even fewer rushers with Superstar X-Factors. These abilities are reserved for the best of the best, the upper echelon of NFL players. So, wouldn’t you want an ability that can help activate that X-Factor?

The Closer star ability allows players to easily access their X-Factor and enter the zone in the second half of the game. Jonathan Taylor is an absolute workhorse in the backfield, capable of shouldering the entire offense on his shoulders. Coupling Closer with his Freight Train X-Factor, he destroys defenses in the later parts of the game, literally carrying his team to victory.

9 Matchup Nightmare

Rushers who are capable of running the ball from the backfield and turning into a receiver in the passing game are a quarterback’s best friend. But on the other hand, these players are nightmares for opposing defenses. It’s a tall task for defenses to contain players with the Matchup Nightmare ability.

When teams play the New Orleans Saints, not only do they have to account for Alvin Kamara’s elusive running but also his pass-catching ability. The Matchup Nightmare ability makes him take sharper cuts and frequently secure contested receptions when guarded by linebackers and linemen. In most cases, running backs are lined up against inferior coverage defenders, so someone like Kamara can take full advantage in the passing game.

8 Backfield Master

The top-tier quarterbacks can alter plays or specific routes based on the defensive coverage in front of them. But the same can be true for other skilled players. Certain rushers who are masters in route running have even more options to be creative in the passing game.

With the Backfield Master ability, rushers like Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey have access to four additional hot routes. Plus, they have an increase in their route running and catching ratings when lined up against linebackers and linemen. Route running is an underrated talent in the NFL, quarterbacks rely on players being able to correctly maneuver in the open field based on the play design.

7 Backlash

When defenses tackle ball carriers, their top priority is simply stopping the runner’s forward progress. Sure, it’d be nice if they jarred the ball loose and caused a turnover, but defenses look to stop the play at all costs. In the process, runners might develop fatigue as a result of being tackled, but if you’re a rusher with the Backlash ability, you can return the favor.

Give defenders a taste of their own medicine with the Backlash ability by causing fatigue penalties against tacklers when you’re taken down by a non-conservative tackle. These could be truck stick-type tackles, which defenders might try to deploy in hopes of creating a fumble. But for someone like Derrick Henry, it might feel like defenders are trying to tackle a brick wall.

6 Bulldozer

Certain rushers like Dalvin Cook or Alvin Kamara excel at avoiding contact and being elusive in the backfield. Other rushers, like Joe Mixon, are a different story. The Cincinnati Bengals running back relishes contact and he makes it a point to bulldoze over defenders who try to take him down.

Rushers equipped with the Bulldozer ability boost their trucking animations and allow him to power through most defenders. These running backs want defenders to attempt to tackle them, only to show how little effect they have on them. Offenses that utilize running backs with Bulldozer try to control the line of scrimmage by smashing the ball right up the middle.

5 Energizer

Talented players are certainly important to a team’s success, but having players who can stay on the field for long periods is a luxury in itself. There’s a reason why the starters are the starters and the backups are the backups, and you want your starter in as many plays as possible.

The Energizer ability replenishes a portion of a ball carrier’s stamina each time they successfully perform a skill move. Skill moves can be anything from spins to stiff arms, so this ability can keep a guy like Ezekiel Elliot on the field for a long period. Not only will you be rewarded for gaining extra yards with a juke or hurdle, but you’ll also regain some stamina in the process.

4 Bruiser

Rushers in the open field are dangerous for defenses. Once a running back sees a sea of green in front of them, it’s full steam ahead, and damn anyone who gets in the way. Strong rushers make smaller defenders pay with the Bruiser ability.

Using stiff arms and trucking abilities are a physical running back’s most useful weapons in fighting for extra yards. This ability increases the strength of these maneuvers and makes it nearly impossible to bring these rushers down without multiple tacklers.

3 Tank

Sometimes, defenders attempt hit-stick tackles to try and cause a fumble. These tackles can be a bit more out of control and might miss the ball carrier entirely, but the trade-off is significantly more powerful than regular tackles. A way for running backs to counter hit-stick tackles is with the Tank ability.

Strong runners like Derrick Henry can shed any tackles, even hit-stick tackles, with the Tank ability. They can easily break free from these attempts and continue fighting for extra yards. The Tank ability can be the difference between a massive blown play or salvaging a few positive yards.

2 Goal Line Back

Offenses tend to struggle a bit once they enter the red zone. Windows of opportunity shrink, the secondary clamps down on receivers, and the defensive line tightens up, leaving virtually no holes for a running back to break through. That’s why you need the Goal Line Back ability.

It’s a matter of will and determination trying to successfully run the ball inside the five-yard line, and that’s where Goal Line Back is here to help. This star ability improves the blocking by the offensive line for running backs within five yards of the end zone. Defenses are most likely expecting an inside run, so this ability could prove the difference in scoring a touchdown.

1 Reach For It

Most runners will accept the initial contact by a defender and choose to protect the ball and safely go to the ground instead of trying to fight for extra yards. This strategy isn’t bad or anything, especially when the alternative could be a fumble. But sometimes, having a rusher who isn’t afraid to keep fighting for more yardage is nice to have.

Rushers with the Reach For It ability will frequently try to gain extra yards while they’re being tackled instead of just falling to the ground. Imagine it’s third down and you need four yards for the first down. Instead of falling two yards short at the initial point of contact, your running back fought through and reached the first down. That extra effort can help retain possessions and keep offensive drives alive, making it the best star ability for running backs to have in the game.

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