Friday, August 25, 2023

2023 Fantasy Football RB Rankings

FantasyPros tracks the accuracy of fantasy football rankings and Hanson's rankings have finished:
  • 2022: 8th (out of 163 experts tracked)
  • 2021: 6th (out of 172 experts tracked)
  • 2020: 9th (out of 149 experts tracked)

Some teams have already played their final preseason game and as the NFL preseason winds down, we are that much closer to the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night Football.

That also means that we are in the thick of fantasy draft season.

To help you prepare for your fantasy football drafts, we will continue to keep our fantasy football rankings updated until the start of the 2023 NFL season.

Note: These rankings are for half-PPR scoring.

More scoring formats:

More 2023 fantasy football rankings:

1. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers

After two injury-plagued seasons, McCaffrey played a full 17-game slate in 2022 split between the Panthers and 49ers. If there's a concern (albeit only a slight one), it's the potential for the 49ers to scale back CMC's workload to preserve his health for a full season including the playoffs, especially given their talented supporting cast when at full strength.

When healthy, however, few, if any, running backs have a higher floor and ceiling due to his ability as a runner and receiver. From Week 7 (when SF traded for him) through the end of the season, he tied Tennessee's Derrick Henry for the most fantasy points per game (half-PPR). McCaffrey has a minimum of 80 catches in each of his four full seasons, and he's averaged 113.1 yards per scrimmage per game over his career.

2. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers

Granted permission to seek a trade early in the offseason, Ekeler enters 2023 with fresh incentives added to the final year of his contract. As one of the league's best receiving backs, Ekeler's elite production is game-script independent. In addition, he has led the NFL in touchdowns in each of the past two seasons with a total of 38 during that span. Ekeler led all running backs in half-PPR fantasy points in 2022, and he finished second behind Jonathan Taylor in 2021.

3. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Chubb has a career average of 5.2 yards per carry, but he has also yet to average fewer than 5.0 YPC in any of his first five NFL seasons. The talented back carried the ball 302 times last season for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns, all of which set or tied career highs. While he's averaged only 1.6 receptions per game over his career, his passing-game role may (or should) expand with Kareem Hunt no longer on the roster.

4. Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Robinson is the most talented back to enter the league in several draft cycles, and he landed in a spot where he has a chance to perform as a top-five fantasy back. Robinson profiles as a three-down back with outstanding size, speed, vision and contact balance and his 183 missed tackles forced over the past two seasons were 56 more than the next closest back, per PFF. While Robinson is an outstanding receiver as well, only the Bears (56.19%) ran the ball on a higher percentage of plays than the Falcons (55.29%) in 2022.

5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans

There are certainly concerns — age, cumulative career workload, the team's offensive issues, etc. Even so, Henry has led the NFL in rush attempts in three of the past four seasons (including 349 in 2022) and he's guaranteed a massive workload, as long as he remains healthy. He set a career high in receptions (33) in 2022, but he actually averaged more receptions per game in 2021 (2.3) than 2022 (2.1).

Of course, it would be preferred for Henry to be more involved as a receiver, but his relative lack of involvement in the passing game has been an over-emphasized reason to avoid Henry (at least in half-PPR formats). Here is where Henry has finished on a points-per-game basis in half-PPR scoring over the past four years (min. 8G played): third in 2022 (17.9), first in 2021 (23.0), third in 2020 (20.2) and second (tied) in 2019 (19.0), respectively.

6. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants

Barkley had missed at least three games in each of the previous three seasons, but he stayed healthy in 2022 and delivered for fantasy managers. Perhaps less involved as a receiver than expected, especially given the team's 2022 wide receiver woes, Barkley ended the year with 352 combined touches including 57 receptions, 1,650 YFS and 10 touchdowns. Failing to reach an agreement on a long-term extension before the July 17th deadline, Barkley and the Giants agreed to terms on a modified one-year contract, which is helpful given the current landscape of tension between star running backs and teams.

7. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys

Sharing the workload with Ezekiel Elliott, Pollard rushed for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and added 39 catches for 371 yards and another three touchdowns. With Elliott no longer on the roster (although there is at least a chance the still-unsigned Elliott could return), Pollard enters 2023 as a mid-tier RB1 in fantasy drafts.

8. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

Jacobs led the NFL in rushing yards (1,653), yards from scrimmage (2,053) and touches (393) in 2022. He dominated the team's running back touches, as the rest of the team's backs had a total of 77 (16.4%). In addition, Jacobs averaged a career-high 4.9 YPC and has now exceeded 50 catches in back-to-back seasons. That's the good news, but hasn't yet signed his franchise tender after the team and Jacobs failed to reach a long-term agreement before July's deadline. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal recently wrote, however, that Jacobs is "expected to report ... before their season opener."

9. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

When healthy and happy, Taylor has RB1 overall upside. After all, he's just two seasons removed from finishing as fantasy football's RB1. Beyond what he can do on the football field, however, it's been a summer full of concerns — requesting a trade, leaving and returning to camp (multiple times), PUP list, etc. Another concern is the potential for Anthony Richardson to steal carries from Taylor, who also may see fewer checkdowns if Richardson tucks it and runs when plays break down.

Update: Taylor has been given permission to seek a trade.

10. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Before last season, Jones had three consecutive seasons with double-digit touchdowns. That said, he set career highs in rushing yards (1,121) and receptions (59) in 2022. Transitioning from Aaron Rodgers to Jordan Love adds some uncertainty, but Jones has 47-plus receptions in four consecutive seasons and 1,459-plus YFS in three of his past four seasons. Jones is undervalued heading into the 2023 season.

11. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Missing multiple games in all but two seasons (2019 and 2021), Mixon has been an inefficient (career 4.1 YPC) workhorse (16.4 carries per game). In addition, he set career highs as a receiver in targets (75), receptions (60) and yards (441) in 2022. The Bengals and Mixon agreed to a restructured contract that keeps him in Cincinnati for 2023, but it's still unclear if his legal issues will impact his availability at any point during the season.

12. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

While the touches (381 to 313), targets (94 to 53) and yards from scrimmage (1,667 to 1,263) all dropped year over year, Harris managed to play a full 17-game slate once again despite some worries about a Lisfranc injury before the start of the season. An improved offensive line and offense overall should help a healthy Harris, who was RB14 in half-PPR in 2022. (Harris was a volume-based RB4 as a rookie in 2021.)

13. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

Stevenson is coming off a breakout season (1,040 rushing yards, 69 receptions for 421 yards and six total touchdowns). Damien Harris (106 carries in 11 games) is now in Buffalo, but the Patriots have signed Ezekiel Elliott to fill his void (and potentially more). Stevenson had multiple receptions in all but one game in 2022, and only three running backs — Austin Ekeler (107), Christian McCaffrey (85) and Leonard Fournette (73) — had more receptions than Stevenson last year. The biggest concern with the Elliott signing, however, is the potential to lose goal-line carries to the former Cowboy.

14. Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions

It's a new-look backfield for the Lions — D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams are out, and Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery are in. Detroit's backfield ranked third in touches last season, and they were top 10 in RB targets. Gibbs lacks ideal size to be a workhorse back, but he will quickly develop into one of the league's best receiving backs and he has game-breaking speed (4.36 40-yard dash). It's possible, maybe likely, that Montgomery leads the backfied in touches while Gibbs leads it in fantasy points scored.

15. Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

A Lisfranc injury delayed his NFL debut by a year, but Etienne finished as fantasy's RB17 (half-PPR scoring) in 2022 with 220 carries for 1,125 yards and five touchdowns and 35 catches for 316 yards. Earlier this offseason, Demetrius Harvey of The Florida Times-Union wrote that Tank Bigsby, the team's third-round pick, could even "out-touch [Etienne] in some games depending on who has the hot hand." More recently, Doug Pederson praised Etienne's development as a runner while discussing a scenario where "maybe he's pushing 1,600, 1,700 yards as a rusher."

16. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

Conner has missed multiple games in all six of his NFL seasons including four games in 2022. In his two years with the Cardinals, he has a total of 385 carries for 1,534 yards (3.98 YPC) and 22 touchdowns while adding 83 catches for 675 yards and four touchdowns. The good news is that he should dominate backfield touches, as long as he remains healthy. The bad news is his number of scoring opportunities will likely be down (perhaps significantly), especially when Kyler Murray is sidelined.

17. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

Mattison is poised for a breakout season (or at least a significant increase in workload) with Dalvin Cook released earlier this offseason. The fifth-year back has 90-plus rushing yards in five of the six games in which he has played more than 40 offensive snaps.

18. Breece Hall, New York Jets

Before Hall tore his ACL, his NFL career was off to a great start. The rookie from Iowa State averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 11.5 yards per reception through seven games. His workload had jumped considerably in Weeks 4-6 (61 touches) from Weeks 1-3 (34). Who knows how good his rookie season would have been if the injury hadn't happened? There are lots of reasons for fantasy managers to be excited about Hall's long-term outlook, but it wouldn't be a shock if he starts the 2023 season slowly as he works his way back from injury, especially with Dalvin Cook joining the Jets on a one-year deal.

19. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

Walker rushed for 1,050 yards and nine touchdowns on 228 carries as a rookie. Expectations shot up following (Rashaad Penny's departure in) NFL free agency, but the Seahawks drafting a talented complement (Zach Charbonnet) in the second round should temper expectations. Walker finished 2022 as fantasy's RB16 in half-PPR scoring, and a similar level of production is most likely in 2023. Walker had been dealing with a groin injury, but he's returned to practicing in full.

20. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Once the Buccaneers released Leonard Fournette, who is still a free agent, White immediately moved atop the team's 2023 depth chart. As a 2022 rookie, he had 129 carries for 481 yards (only 3.7 YPC) and a touchdown in addition to 50 receptions for 290 yards and two touchdowns. His best game as a runner (22/105) was against the Seattle Seahawks and his new offensive coordinator Dave Canales, who was Seattle's quarterbacks coach last year.

21. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

While he missed nearly all of 2021 with a torn Achilles, Akers has gone from workhorse to the coach's doghouse and back to workhorse, when healthy. Much of Akers' 2022 production came in the final six weeks of the season when he finished with 104 carries for 512 yards (4.92 YPC) and six touchdowns and 11 receptions for 99 yards on 12 targets.

22. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

Pierce had never exceeded 106 carries in his four seasons at Florida, but he reached that number through his first six games with the Texans. While he missed the final four games of the season with an ankle injury, he had 220 carries for 939 yards and four touchdowns through Week 14. He also added 30 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. The former Gator was the RB15 through Week 14. Despite Houston signing Devin Singletary, Pierce is still a viable RB2 for fantasy managers in 2023.

23. Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers

Sanders set career highs in rushing last season with 259 carries for 1,269 yards and 11 touchdowns. Through four NFL seasons, he has averaged 5.02 yards per carry running behind the league's best offensive line. With Jalen Hurts under center, Sanders (and Philly's running backs) weren't targeted often, but he had 50 receptions as a rookie in 2022. There's a good chance that he's more involved as a receiver than he was over the past several seasons. Sanders is dealing with a hamstring injury, but Frank Reich says he thinks that Sanders is "getting close."

24. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

Fantasy managers now have clarity about Kamara's suspension (a negotiated settlement of three games), a positive development given it could have been twice as long. Over the past two seasons, Kamara has averaged only 3.9 YPC, rushed for half as many touchdowns as "tight end" Taysom Hill and had a total of only 104 receptions after finishing with 80-plus in each of his first four seasons. Even so, he has finished as the RB16 (2022) and RB8 (2021) on a PPG basis (half-PPR).

25. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

Dobbins has averaged a phenomenal 5.9 yards per carry, but he has played a total of 23 games through three seasons. (On a positive note, he's an extra year removed from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the entire 2021 season.) While Lamar Jackson's elite rushing threat can put tremendous strain on opposing defenses, the flip side is fewer targets and checkdowns to running backs as Dobbins has averaged only 1.39 targets and 1.09 receptions per game over his career.

26. Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

Handling seven touches including four receptions in Week 2 of the preseason, Williams (knee) described getting tackled as "the biggest hurdle ... left with the whole recovery process." Returning to game action this quickly after tearing multiple ligaments is extremely impressive, to say the least. Through 21 career games, Williams has 250 carries for 1,107 yards (4.4 YPC, 52.7 YPG), 59 receptions for 392 yards and a total of seven touchdowns.

27. James Cook, Buffalo Bills

Cook was one of Buffalo's fantasy winners after the draft, as there was some projection that the Bills could target someone like Bijan Robinson if he slipped. (Of course, he didn't.) Heading into 2023 atop the depth chart, he'll split touches with veterans like Damien Harris and Latavius Murray, but he'll be in the (back-end) RB2 mix for fantasy managers this season. Offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey praised Cook's versatility and potential to be a "three-down back."

28. David Montgomery, Detroit Lions

The Lions had two backs finish as top-24 performers in 2022 — Williams (RB8) and Swift (RB22) — and no team's running backs scored more fantasy points than Detroit's. In other words, it's possible that the duo of Gibbs and Montgomery both perform as RB2-type backs (or better) in 2023. Montgomery has averaged only 3.94 YPC through four seasons, but he will have the opportunity to run behind a much better offensive line in Detroit than he had in Chicago. In addition, he is a capable receiver as well with a minimum of 25 receptions each year and a total of 155 through four seasons.

29. Brian Robinson Jr., Washington Commanders

Given what he endured before last season (shot multiple times during a car jacking), Robinson had an incredibly impressive rookie season and shouldered a heavy workload, when healthy. He averaged 17.1 carries per game, although he was less involved as a receiver (12 targets in 12 games).

30. Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs

Pacheco generated some buzz last August as a seventh-round rookie, and then he delivered for fantasy managers who drafted the sleeper. He finished his inaugural season with 170 carries for 830 yards (4.9 YPC) and five touchdowns and added 13 catches for 130 yards (10.0 Y/R). Sitting atop the 2023 depth chart, Pacheco has a chance to improve upon his rookie numbers.

31. Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders

Fumbling issues plagued Gibson's 2021 season, and he was inefficient last season (3.66 YPC) with career lows in both touches (195) and yards from scrimmage (899). Gibson has a minimum of 36 catches in each season with a career-high 46 last year and coach Ron Rivera referred to him as a "matchup nightmare for the opponent." With J.D. McKissic no longer on the roster, Gibson expects his role to include "third-down back, end-of-game situation, end-of-half situation and things like that."

32. D'Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles

There's a good chance that Swift leads Philadelphia's backfield in fantasy production, as long as he stays healthy, but he has missed a minimum of three games every season in his young career. Swift is one of the league's best receiving backs with an average of 3.9 receptions per game in his career. While he'll benefit from playing in a high-powered offense and behind an elite offense line, a drop in target share is likely with Jalen Hurts (165 carries in 2022) under center. Only Chicago's running backs had fewer receptions than Philadelphia's last season.

33. Dalvin Cook, New York Jets

The wait is over, as Cook will join the Jets for the 2023 season. Appearing in all 17 games last year, it was the first time that Cook appeared in more than 14 games in a season. Cook's signing could lead to Hall being brought along more slowly, which could mean his best games could be in the first half of the season.

34. Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears

Chances are that Justin Fields will lead the Bears in rushing, but Herbert has been highly efficient — career 5.02 YPC on 232 carries — through his first two NFL seasons. Given the volume of rush attempts by Fields, it should come as no surprise that the Bears ranked last in the NFL in running back receptions and 31st in running back targets in 2022. Even if Herbert leads the Bears running backs in both rushing and receiving, which I currently project, it's possible that fantasy managers are left wanting a bit more.

35. A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers

Whether fantasy managers roster Jones or not, Dillon has stand-alone fantasy value and has finished as a top-30 fantasy running back in back-to-back seasons. During that span, Dillon has 435 touches including 62 receptions on 80 targets for 2,092 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns.

36. Samaje Perine, Denver Broncos

Perine is poised for a "significant role" in Denver's backfield throughout the season, and potentially an even more significant role in the early part of the season even though Williams won't miss any regular-season games to start the year. Sean Payton has a long history of giving substantial workloads to the team's second back.

37. Rashaad Penny, Philadelphia Eagles

Through five NFL seasons, Penny has missed nearly as many games (40) as he has played (42). When healthy, however, he has averaged 5.7 yards per carry over his career and an even-better 6.2 YPC over the past two seasons (176/1095/8). Aside from durability concerns, Penny hasn't been a factor in the passing game — 36 career targets in 42 games.

38. Jamaal Williams, New Orleans Saints

Coming off a career season, Williams carried the ball 262 times for 1,066 yards and a league-high 17 touchdowns. As long as both Kamara and Williams are active (after Kamara's three-game suspension), he'll be a complementary option to Kamara, but Williams could get the larger share of valuable goal-line opportunities.

39. Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks

The second-round pick was highly productive for the UCLA Bruins, and he has the skill set to be a foundation back. Unfortunately, Seattle is not an ideal landing spot for his 2023 fantasy outlook with Charbonnet expected to operate as the 1B to Walker's 1A in Seattle's ground attack. Given how much Pete Carroll would prefer to run the ball, however, there is a chance that he could approach stand-alone flex-level value even if Walker gets/stays healthy for a full season.

40. Jeff Wilson Jr., Miami Dolphins

Following Wilson's midseason trade to Miami, both Raheem Mostert (Week 12) and Wilson (Week 15) missed one game each. In the games in which they both appeared, Wilson (82 touches) edged Mostert (80) in workload. Going into the 2023 season, I project Wilson to maintain a relatively slight edge, but the addition of De'Von Achane, their speedy third-round rookie, (and a potential signing of Dalvin Cook) only clouds the outlook even further.

41. Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

Mostert missed only one game in 2022, but it was just the second season of his career where he didn't miss significant time. He has played only 61 games over the past six seasons. Without any new additions to the backfield, Mostert should get 10-12 touches per game as long as he's healthy, and he's never averaged less than 4.9 YPC in a season.

42. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Allgeier was a player I liked as a sleeper last year, and the fifth-rounder out of BYU eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie. He finished 2022 with 210 carries for 1,035 yards (4.9 YPC) and three touchdowns and added 16 receptions for 139 yards and a score. With the Falcons drafting Robinson at No. 8 overall, it obviously delivers a huge blow to Allgeier's fantasy stock.

43. Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Athletic's Mark Kaboly wrote in June "[t]he way [Warren] attacks the hole during drills is something to be seen. ... there is no way [OC] Canada can keep him off the field as much as he did last season." Warren had 105 touches for 593 yards and a touchdown and finished as fantasy's RB51.

44. Devin Singletary, Houston Texans

Through four seasons in Buffalo, Singletary had more than 150 carries and averaged exactly 2.4 receptions every year. The workload will almost certainly decline in Houston, but he would become a RB2 if Pierce were to miss any time.

45. Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs

McKinnon had nearly as many targets (71) as carries (72) last season, and he was extremely effective as a receiver. He ended the year with 56 catches for 512 yards (9.1 Y/R) and nine of his 10 touchdowns were receiving scores. While I have projected McKinnon for considerably fewer touchdowns in 2023, he could be a solid bye-week fill-in for fantasy squads, at a minimum.

46. Ezekiel Elliott, New England Patriots

By signing with the Patriots, Elliott boosts the fantasy stock (or at least diminishes a concern) for Tony Pollard, but it also knocks Stevenson down a couple of spots in my 2023 fantasy rankings. Elliott set career lows in his age-27 season (2022) with 231 carries and 876 rushing yards, and a realistic projection might be close to half of those numbers in 2023. Over the past three seasons combined, Elliott has averaged only 4.0 YPC, 6.2 Y/R and 4.3 yards per touch compared to 4.6, 8.6 and 5.2, respectively, over the first four years of his career (2016-19).

47. Chuba Hubbard, Carolina Panthers

Sanders played a full 17-game last season, but he's currently dealing with a hamstring injury and appeared in only 12 games in both 2020 and 2021. While Sanders should be ready to go before Week 1, Hubbard would likely handle the largest share of the workload in the event that Sanders were to miss any time, and he averaged 4.9 YPC last season.

48. Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers

Mitchell won't offer much stand-alone value, but he would have enormous upside if Christian McCaffrey were to miss any time during the 2023 season. While CMC deserves to be considered at pick 1.01 in fantasy drafts, we've seen how productive non-CMC backs (including Mitchell) have been when given the opportunity.

49. Tank Bigsby, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars used a third-round pick on Bigsby, and the former Auburn Tiger has impressed in the spring and summer. Doug Pederson has said that Bigsby is "better pass-catcher [than anticipated]." There is plenty of upside, even though his ADP has been on the rise, given expectations that Jacksonville plans to shift more of the workload off of Etienne's plate.

50. D'Onta Foreman, Chicago Bears

Foreman rushed for more than 110 yards in five of the final 11 games in 2022 for the Panthers. During that span, he racked up 191/877/5 rushing (4.59 YPC). Even if Herbert is the favorite to lead the backfield, Foreman could end up getting a little more run than expected.

51. Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles

52. Damien Harris, Buffalo Bills

53. De'Von Achane, Miami Dolphins

54. Chase Edmonds, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

55. Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens

56. Jerome Ford, Cleveland Browns

57. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs

58. Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans

59. Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders

60. Joshua Kelley, Los Angeles Chargers

61. Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams

62. Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears

63. Ty Chandler, Minnesota Vikings

64. Kendre Miller, New Orleans Saints

65. Zack Moss, Indianapolis Colts

66. Chase Brown, Cincinnati Bengals

67. Deon Jackson, Indianapolis Colts

68. Deuce Vaughn, Dallas Cowboys

69. Malik Davis, Dallas Cowboys

70. Keaontay Ingram, Arizona Cardinals

71. Latavius Murray, Buffalo Bills

72. Zach Evans, Los Angeles Rams

73. Raheem Blackshear, Carolina Panthers

74. Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta Falcons

75. Deneric Prince, Kansas City Chiefs

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