We’re through the first three rounds of the NFL Draft and quite a bit has changed here in terms of fantasy football, with more and more draft prospects landing with new teams. With each drafted collegiate prospect comes a new way of having to think of each situation for the purposes of drafting best ball or redraft teams. A few prized rookie prospects landed in ideal situations for fantasy football, while others may have some work to do to reach their true potential. So let’s look at some of the winners and losers from Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft from a fantasy football viewpoint.
NFL Draft Fantasy Football Day 2 Winners
Running Backs Galore!
The first two days of the NFL Draft are always a sweat if you’re rostering running backs in either early best ball drafts or dynasty leagues. There are a bunch of running backs with shaky foundations that escaped a running back muddying up their backfields, and those are the big winners on Day 2. They include:
As a card-carrying member of the Tony Pollard Truthers Society, what a time to be alive.
I sincerely thought that we couldn’t have nice things and that the Dallas Cowboys were ripe for drafting a running back (like Roschon Johnson) on Day 2 to add to the backfield after releasing Ezekiel Elliott last month. That (fortunately) did not happen, so as we head into Day 3, Pollard remains unblemished as the top backfield option in Dallas.
Pollard, last season’s PPR RB8 in fantasy points per game, was coming off of best ball draft boards at RB11 in the early spring leading up to the NFL Draft, and RB11 still seems incredibly low. There’s no veteran available and likely no rookie that could touch the market share of Pollard in any meaningful way.
Adding to the fun of Pollard is Dallas’ willingness to lean into the run with a bottom-eight pass rate over expected in 2022, that isn’t likely to change even with the Cowboys adding Brandin Cooks via trade and drafting tight end Luke Schoonmaker in the draft.
Damien Harris left in free agency, and with James Robinson and Pierre Strong remaining, the Patriots had a few opportunities to add somebody to the backfield and didn’t. I certainly didn’t think Robinson there prevented the Patriots from wanting to add somebody, but they stood pat. Teams don’t have to do anything to tell you how confident they are in the incumbent running back. That’s exactly what we have with Stevenson — PPR’s RB10 in fantasy points per game — who dodged some bullets in the draft and remains a true three-down option for fantasy managers.
If the Patriots running back room remains as constructed, Robinson operates as a lesser Harris and Stevenson’s touchdown equity and receiving work vaults him into fringe top-12 status in redraft and best ball.
As it stands now, the consensus top-two running back in fantasy is staying put in Los Angeles. Subject to the swirling trade rumors where a trade could happen at any time and change the landscape of the NFL and fantasy football, Ekeler, last season’s top fantasy running back, seems to have resigned himself to staying put for another season in powder blue and yellow.
His quote: "Look, I guess the worst-case scenario right now out of all of it, I'll come back and I'll have to play for the Chargers for a year and bet on myself and then be a free agent next year." seems to clear up his intentions for 2023.
The Chargers also focused more on the defensive side of the ball on Day 2 after adding a pass-catching weapon in Quentin Johnston on Day 1. The Chargers could add a running back on Day 3, but likely nobody that’s going to put any kind of dent into Ekeler’s workload. If anything, it would be somebody to challenge Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller for spot duty behind Ekeler. Crisis averted for Ekeler… for now.
Other winners from Day 2 at running back that avoided rookies entering their backfields include:
- Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears
- James Conner, Arizona Cardinals
- Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Isiah Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs
- Damien Harris/James Cook, Buffalo Bills
- Antonio Gibson/Brian Robinson, Washington Commanders
NFL Draft Fantasy Football Day 2 Losers
With the running back landscape skewing older and older without many top-end running backs taking their place, we assumed Kenneth Walker would be safe from any tinkering. Unfortunately, real-life football reared its ugly head and proved that John Schneider and Pete Carroll just do not care about fantasy football.
With their second-round pick, the Seahawks selected Zach Charbonnet and sent one of fantasy’s rising running backs into a bit of a dizzying tailspin. This will result in months and months of fantasy football managers and experts asking, “How will this Seattle backfield shape up?” with no answer available until Week 1, when both backs take the field.
Seattle clearing out the running backs room by not retaining Travis Homer and Rashaad Penny was supposed to be the crowning ascension towards a top-12 season for Walker. Instead, we’ll wonder how much workload Charbonnet will get in Seattle as they likely find ways to get him involved in the offense. Of course, that will cap the upside of Walker in fantasy but be great for keeping him healthy to last 17 games.
The RB8 from Week 6 through Week 17 in 2022, Walker was a top-six running back on Underdog during their Big Board but Superflex contest, but will likely drop a spot or two in Best Ball Mania IV, where you can use promo code “FANTASYALARM” for a 100% deposit match for upcoming best ball drafts we’re doing in the Fantasy Alarm Discord.
Adding one running back in Jamaal Williams in free agency was bad enough for Alvin Kamara’s fantasy stock to take a tumble. Now we add another in Kendre Miller, who the Saints drafted in the third round on Day 2?
The Saints must really think that Kamara is going to miss some time with the assault charges stemming from the 2022 Pro Bowl weekend in Las Vegas. Obviously, this situation is incredibly fluid with Kamara whenever legal ramifications are involved.
As it stands, Kendre Miller doesn’t have a true path to consistent playing time if Kamara doesn’t miss time, but he’s going to be involved in this Saints offense, as is Williams. Williams can be the Mark Ingram-type thumping running back they’ve lacked since 2017. The touch equity for Williams is a bit low as a touchdown-dependent back, but if Miller impresses early like Kamara did in his rookie season to vault over Ingram and Adrian Peterson, then Kamara has a one-way ticket out of New Orleans after this season.
Kamara’s production has waned over the last few years, with him straddling the 4.0 yards per carry line the last two seasons. After scoring 16 touchdowns in 2020, the lack of offensive firepower in New Orleans over the last two seasons has affected Kamara big time, as he has just 13 total touchdowns since 2021 while missing six games due to injury. I’ll let somebody else take the headache of Kamara in drafts.
- 2023 NFL Draft Live Coverage With Bettorcast
- 2023 NFL Draft: First Round Winners and Losers For Fantasy Football