The 2023 Fantasy Football Deep Dive: Running Back Fantasy Football Rankings

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Running Back Fantasy Football Rankings: Who’s Ranked #1?

Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

  • He finished as the RB2 in fantasy leagues after being acquired by the San Francisco 49ers
  • He was the ultimate weapon in the Niners offense as his dual-threat ability perfectly fit with the scheme and philosophy that Kyle Shanahan uses
    • Led all running backs in receiving yards and was second in receptions
    • 52 catches on 65 targets, just under 500 yards, and 4 touchdowns with San Francisco
  • Now that he’s heading into the 2023 season as the starter in San Francisco, you can only imagine him replicating a lot of what he did last year, if not exceeding it
    • The guy even threw for a touchdown last season!
  • There are of course concerns if he can keep his clean bill of health, but it seemed the Niners managed it well last season

Running Back Fantasy Football Sleepers

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

  • This is a real risk because we know his relationship with Sean McVay is rocky at best but hopefully, that’s all behind them
  • He averaged five yards per carry in the last five games of last season and that was without Matthew Stafford or Cooper Kupp and averaged nearly 18 fantasy points per game
  • People also forget that McVay knows how to create a great running game: remember Todd Gurley II was the best RB in fantasy for a few years
  • On top of all this, he has no real competition for the top spot unless 2nd-year player Kyren Williams breaks out this season

Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders

  • Jerick McKinnon through the first nine weeks of the season was the 47th-ranked fantasy running back in PPR leagues
    • Through the rest of the season, McKinnon was the 5th ranked fantasy running back in PPR leagues
  • With Eric Bienemy now the offensive coordinator in Washington, this could mean big things for Gibson
  • Brian Robinson Jr. is the starting running back and should command a majority of the rushing attempts
    • Look at Gibson to take control over the passing downs for the Commanders
      • Gibson also had over 1,000 rushing yards in 2021 and can very easily be dangerous on the ground as well
  • The Commanders are also going with the young quarterback, Sam Howell, to lead the offense and this could mean they lean more on the backfield to relieve the pressure for the former Tar Heel

Running Back Fantasy Football Busts

NFL: New Orleans Saints Training Camp
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

  • While Kamara is no longer the subject of a possible arrest or trial, he was suspended by the NFL for the first three games of the season
  • Aside from the suspension, Kamara has not been the same running back we’ve been used to seeing the past two seasons
    • In 2021 he scored only nine total touchdowns and last season he scored only four
  • Now part of the reason that he struggled was the inconsistent play at the quarterback position after the retirement of Drew Brees
    • The team went out and signed Derek Carr to hopefully alleviate that issue
  • While Carr is an upgrade, the other factor heading into 2023 is his backfield got a little more crowded with some talented runners
    • Jamaal Williams comes over to New Orleans after leading the league in rushing touchdowns last season
      • He also posted a 1,000-rushing season
    • Also added rookie Kendre Miller through the 2023 Draft
      • Miller put up over 1,500 scrimmage yards and 17 total touchdowns for the TCU Horned Frogs last season
  • Kamara just doesn’t seem like the same dynamic player he once was and the offense made some upgrades in the backfield to cloud judgment over Kamara as well

Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

  • He showed a lot of promise his rookie year, more than Tad thought he would so credit where it’s due there
  • In 3 of his last 4 games, he didn’t crack 10 fantasy points
  • However, he did miss four games due to injury and the Texans added Devin Singletary in the offseason
  • Add on the fact that CJ Stroud’s transition to the NFL is probably going to take a year or two to reach full fruition, just don’t think this will be his year

Running Back Fantasy Hot Takes

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

No rookie running back is worth drafting this year

  • Bijan Robinson is atop a lot of fantasy lists right now but just not buying the hype
  • He’s in an extremely crowded backfield with Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier
  • Even if he does get most of the carries, this is still a very weak offense so there’s no guarantee that he produces with them
  • Other backs like Zach Charbonnet and Kendre Miller have close to zero chance to take over in a significant role
  • The best bet is Devon Achane but with the Dalvin Cook situation still up in the air, not to mention Jeff Wilson Jr., it’s hard to trust any of these rookies

Khalil Herbert will finish as a top-12 fantasy running back

  • David Montgomery had 72 more carries than Herbert last season, but finished with only one more rushing touchdown and only 70 more rushing yards
    • Herbert had the better yards per attempt average compared to Montgomery
      • 5.7 compared to 4
  • The Chicago Bears led the NFL in rushing yards last season and ranked 2nd in rushing attempts
    • Only one short of the league leader Atlanta Falcons (559 to 558)
  • Herbert had five games last season with double-digit points and he only started one game in 2022
  • Herbert is currently being drafted as the 36th running back off the board
    • Immense value here as you can taken him in the middle rounds, but get the return of a low-end RB1
  • There’s talk that he’s going to battle with D’Onta Foreman and rookie Roschon Johnson entering the season for the lead duties
    • That’s just a formality as Herbert will lead this group but yes Foreman and possibly Johnson as well will be sprinkled in
  • This Bears offense is going to take a leap forward and Herbert is going to be on the forefront of this new look attack