What is a Fullback? The NFL’s Unsung Heroes

The quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and defensive end are the first positions that come to mind when you think of American football. Yet, one position that is sometimes ignored is fullback.

Many people regularly overlook what a fullback accomplishes on the field even though it’s an important position in American football.

We’ll go into more detail about what a fullback is, what they do, and why they’re so crucial to the game in this article.

What is a Fullback in American Football? 

Before diving into what a fullback does, let’s start with the fundamentals.

A fullback is a position in American football that lines up in the offensive backfield and is primarily responsible for blocking for the running back.

The fullback is usually bigger and more strong than the running back, though not as big as the offensive linemen.

The fullback may alternatively be referred to as an “F-back” or “H-back” depending on the attacking strategy. It is still possible for the fullback to carry the ball on occasion, but it is less common than it once was.

The Importance of the Fullback Position 

Let’s discuss the significance of the fullback position now that we have a clear understanding of what it is. 

The fullback is in charge of making passageways for the running back to use. Without a strong fullback, the offense would become one-dimensional and the running game would struggle. 

Moreover, the fullback is in charge of pass protection, which aids in shielding the quarterback from the defensive rush. 

The fullback can be used as a receiver out of the backfield in addition to blocking. This gives the offensive a new dimension and keeps the defense on its toes. 

In cases where a few more yards can make all the difference, the fullback can also be deployed. 

Types of Fullbacks

The fullback position in American football has developed to accommodate a variety of players with varying skill sets. Some of the different fullbacks you might see on a football squad include the following: 

  1. Classic Fullback – The typical fullback positions himself behind the quarterback and serves largely as the running back’s blocker. They are renowned for their power, toughness, and capacity for confrontation with defenders. 
  2. H-Back – A player with the versatility to play both fullback and tight end is known as an H-back. They can block, catch passes, and even run the ball, and they are frequently employed in motion before the snap to trick the defenders. 
  3. Tailback – The main function of a tailback, a fullback with exceptional speed and agility, is to carry the ball. They are utilized to create mismatches with the defense because they are frequently smaller and more agile than a traditional fullback. 
  4. Wingback – As a receiver or a blocker, a fullback who is lined up on the outside of the offensive line is known as a wingback. They are employed to throw the defender off guard and can be an effective tool in the passing game. 
  5. Blocking Fullback – The main responsibility of this kind of fullback is to provide running back blocking. They might not be as versatile or active in the receiving game as other kinds of fullbacks, but they are crucial to a potent running attack. 

The Modern Fullback: A Jack of All Trades 

The fullback of today is a multi-talented player. They must have the ability to run, catch, throw, and block the ball. They frequently perform the grunt work that lets the running back and quarterback shine, making them the unsung heroes of the offense. 

Despite being crucial to the game, fullbacks are frequently disregarded and undervalued. They typically don’t appear on highlight videos or fantasy football stat sheets, but they are crucial to the offense’s success. 

The fullback is an important position in American football, to sum up. They are in charge of blocking, creating openings for the running back and protecting the quarterback during the pass. Moreover, they can toss, catch, and run with the ball. 

Despite being crucial to the game, fullbacks are frequently disregarded and undervalued.

Consider for a moment how hard the fullback works the next time you’re watching a football game. The game would not be the same without them. 

What is expected from a Fullback? 

In American football, a fullback is normally a player that lines up in the offensive backfield and is largely in charge of blocking, with a little bit of running or catching thrown in for good measure. 

Depending on the team’s offensive strategy and the individual play being run, a fullback’s specific duties may vary, but some typical expectations are as follows: 

  1. Blocking: Blocking defenders is a fullback’s main duty to open up lanes for the halfback or running back to run through. This calls for a powerful upper body, as well as the capacity to assess the defense and act quickly. 
  2. Short-yardage situations: The fullback could be asked to carry the ball themselves in tight situations, like on third or fourth down. To obtain those vital yards, they must be able to push past defenders. 
  3. Pass protection: In cases where the quarterback must be protected while passing, fullbacks may also be needed. They must be able to spot blitzes and successfully stop any defenders trying to approach the quarterback.  
  4. Receiving: Although fullbacks are typically used as blockers, they occasionally function as receivers, especially in situations requiring little yardage. They must possess strong hands and the ability to catch the ball in a crowded area.  
  5. Special teams: Fullbacks can also help on special teams, such as in the coverage or return units for kickoffs and punts. To make tackles or blocks for returners, they must be swift and athletic.  

All things considered, a successful fullback requires a blend of power, quickness, agility, and brains. They are essential to a team’s offensive success and must be flexible to different circumstances and tactics. 

Best NFL Fullbacks Of All-Time

Best NFL Fullbacks

In the backfield of an American football game, the fullback typically lines up in front of the halfback and behind the quarterback. 

Although fullbacks are becoming less common in football, the position has given birth to some of the best players in the history of the sport. 

The following are a few of the top fullbacks in American football: 

  • Jim Brown – Brown, who is recognized as one of the all-time best players, played fullback for the Cleveland Browns from 1957 through 1965. He participated in nine Pro Bowls and won three NFL titles with the Browns. 
  • Larry Csonka – Csonka, a powerful fullback for the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s, played a significant role in the team’s two Super Bowl victories. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and was a five-time member of the Pro Bowl. 
  • Bronko Nagurski – Nagurski, a great fullback for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s, participated in the NFL’s early years. He won the NFL twice, and in 1963 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 
  • Mike Alstott – Alstott played fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 to 2006. The Bucs fan favorite played in six Pro Bowls and contributed to the Buccaneers’ 2003 Super Bowl victory. 
  • Daryl Johnston – Johnston, a dependable fullback for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s, played a significant role in the team’s three Super Bowl victories. He was a two-time Pro Bowler who excelled at pass-catching out of the backfield and blocking. 

Top 10 Full Backs With the Most Rushing Yards in NFL History

RankPlayerCareer Rushing Yards
1Jim Brown12,312
2Joe Perry 9,723
3Jim Taylor 8,597
4Larry Csonka 8,081
5John Henry Johnson6,803
6Mike Alstott5,088
7John L. Williams 5,006
8Marion Motley4,720
9Carlton Chester Gilchrist4,293
10Rocky Bleier3,865
Data collected from pro-football-reference.com


Well, now that you know what an American football fullback is! As you’ve learned, fullbacks are much more than just glorified blockers, contrary to what you may have previously believed. 

Fullbacks are the Swiss Army knives of the football field, opening up lanes for running backs, receiving passes and even rushing the ball. 

In reality, some fullbacks have won over fans by adopting tough-guy reputations and aggressive playing methods. 

We should all be in awe of these players because they are actual football field warriors. 

Remember that fullbacks are more than just a footnote in the game of football the next time you see one pancake an opposing linebacker or score a touchdown pass out of the backfield.

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