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2023 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Back

Fantasy Football draft season is quickly approaching with NFL squads reporting for training camps. If you’re like me, you’re already deep into mock drafts and scouring the latest from the online fantasy cognoscenti for any inside scoops on value players and league-winning strategies.

While I’m not officially a part of that elite club of fantasy “experts”, I am a veteran player with 15 years of experience in basically every available format. As a participant in 4 dynasty leagues and 9 redraft leagues this year, my focus and commitment will be tested, but I feel good about my Big Board and my draft strategy. It’s going to be fun!

These rankings are based on the order I would draft each player based on position, not necessarily where I believe they’ll finish up at season’s end. All rankings are based on a 12-team, full PPR format. Let’s dive into the running backs.

Top 25 Fantasy RBs of 2023

Tier 1

1. Christian McCaffrey
2. Austin Ekeler

Tier 1 is a short list. McCaffrey tops my RB fantasy rankings as the ultimate dual threat weapon out of the backfield. The 49ers used him more as a receiver than a runner as the 2023 season progressed, but that’s absolutely fine in PPR formats where a healthy McCaffrey should dominate opponents on the ground or through the air. Ekeler is a scoring machine and a darn good receiving back in his own right. Fade Ekeler slightly in Standard scoring leagues, but his usage in scoring position should remain elite in 2023.

Tier 2

3. Jonathan Taylor
4. Bijan Robinson
5. Nick Chubb
6. Saquon Barkley
7. Breece Hall
8. Rhamondre Stevenson

The gap between Ekeler and Taylor is big enough for a tier break, but Taylor could definitely push for entry into that group with a rebound year in 2023. Taylor is one of the league’s most explosive backs, and has a chance at a big season if the Colts stay healthy up front and their rookie QB can pose a threat on the ground as well. Bijan Robinson will get tons of volume in 2023 in a Falcons offense ready to pound the rock all season. He’s a candidate to lead the league in touches. Nick Chubb is finally free! The league’s best pure runner is the clear RB1 in an offense designed for him. I expect a huge season from Chubb. Barkley would be higher if the threat of a hold out wasn’t absolutely real. It plays a factor in his readiness for 2023. Breece Hall is a top 5 candidate if healthy. He could be an absolute steal in late Round 2/early Round 3. I’m a huge Rhamondre Stevenson fan in 2023. He’ll get a huge amount of run in an offense lacking an explosive passing game. He joined Christian McCaffrey as the only RBs in the league to rush for 1,000+ yds and earn 80+ targets in the passing game.

Tier 3

9. Najee Harris
10. Josh Jacobs
11. Tony Pollard
12. Derrick Henry
13. Travis Etienne

Najee Harris will be the focal point of his offense in 2023, and despite his declining passing numbers, is in line for his biggest rushing season yet. Josh Jacobs is another hold-out candidate, and could be part of a regressing offense as a whole anyway. Still worth a look in the top 10. Tony Pollard’s foot injury is a concern, but nobody has been more efficient out of the backfield than Pollard, and he’s the clear RB1 in Dallas now. Derrick Henry could hit the “RB cliff” this year, but I thought the same last year, and all he did was finish as the RB4 in 2022. His ADP (12.5 overall) is a little high for me, but his upside is obviously huge. Travis Etienne will get plenty of work in an improving offense. Another potential value pick at his ADP of 29.2 overall.

Tier 4

14. Aaron Jones
15. Dameon Pierce
16. Joe Mixon
17. Jahmyr Gibbs
18. Alexander Mattison
19. Javonte Williams
20. J.K. Dobbins

Aaron Jones is the man in Green Bay with the other Aaron gone to, ahem, greener pastures. He’s a potential top 10 back in 2023. Dameon Pierce looks to build off an impressive rookie season, and he’s a tough runner in an offense that should be better this year. Joe Mixon is likely in for a decline in production to go along with what appeared to be a regression in explosiveness over the course of 2022. Still he should earn enough volume to be a solid RB2. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs could be a little boom or bust, but the speedster will be an immediate weapon in the passing game for Detroit. Alexander Mattison gets his shot with Dalvin Cook no longer in town. Call me a believer in his potential. If Javonte Williams is fully healthy, watch out. This dude can ball, and he could be the steal of drafts if his current ADP holds up (105.2). A healthy Dobbins has proven to be one of the league’s most efficient per carry backs in football, and the Ravens will still run the football, even if it won’t be all they do in 2023.

Tier 5

21. Miles Sanders
22. Cam Akers
23. James Conner
24. Raschaad White
25. David Montgomery

Sanders has new digs in Carolina for a team with a rookie quarterback under center. He’ll get tons of work behind a good offensive line. Cam Akers is poised for a bounce-back season, seemingly back in the good graces of Sean McVay and the LA Rams and there is good value at his ADP (80.5). James Conner is unfortunately stuck in an offense that could be one of the worst in the league, especially if Kyler Murray misses a large portion of the season, but his goal line usage is very fantastic. I could be way off on White ranked this low, but until we see what that Tampa Bay offense looks like with Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at quarterback, color me skeptical. David Montgomery joins an offense in Detroit that produced 2 fantasy relevant running baks in 2022. Even with the Rookie Gibbs in the fold, Montgomery should still offer low-end RB2/Flex value on a weekly basis, with upside.

Extras

“Dark Horse” Top 10 Candidates: Alexander Mattison, Javonte Williams, Cam Akers

BOLD Prediction: Rhamondre Stevenson finishes the season as a top 3 fantasy RB.


Don’t forget to check out The Steelers Fix Podcast with myself and Andrew Wilbar below, where we Draft our top 10 fantasy RBs for 2023 and talk Najee Harris’ fantasy potential in his 3rd season.

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