If you came to me with a mock 2023 NFL Draft predicting these exact running backs to these exact landing spots, I would have been confused. Upset, even. But that’s the thing about the NFL Draft – it’s always so wild that no one could ever predict it. All we can do is accept it and sort through the rubble to create our fantasy football dynasty rookie rankings for the 2023 NFL season. So, we are going to do just that. We’ve already posted our 2023 Dynasty Rookie Wide Reciever Rankings. Today, we’ll rank the rookie running backs for your upcoming dynasty fantasy football league drafts. Not everyone gets to have top NFL Draft RB prospect and new Atlanta Falcons tailback Bijan Robinson. So the rest of us will have to decide how much the landing spots matter for guys like Jahmyr Gibbs or Zach Charbonnet when it comes to dynasty rookie rankings. The draft capital of Chase Brown, Israel Abanikanda, and others could make them NFL Draft sleepers as they rise up dynasty RB rookie rankings. At the same time, the limitations of guys like DeWayne McBride and Deuce Vaughn could impact their fantasy football projections in the long term. So let’s just dive right in with the top 15 rookie running back rankings for 2023 dynasty fantasy football drafts.
2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football NFL Rookie Running Back Rankings
What is there left to say about Bijan? He’s the best pass catcher. He’s the best rusher. He went No. 8 overall. The only question is whether you take a QB over him in Superflex dynasty rookie draft formats. I’m taking Bijan.
This one shocked the world on draft day when he went to the Lions who already had D’Andre Swift and just signed David Montgomery. Now that Swift has been traded to the Eagles, we can sit back and appreciate the rare draft capital at 12 overall. I have Gibbs as the RB2 and I’m taking him ahead of any of the wide receivers this year. His ability in the passing game is just too special and the Lions seemingly agree.
If the Gibbs pick shocked us, this one devastated us. The Seahawks had a thin depth chart after losing Rashaad Penny but we did not expect ANOTHER second-round RB to join Kenneth Walker. Pete Carroll hinted at what Charbonnet’s role might be when he praised his pass-catching and suggest Charbonnet and Walker “will be battling” for that work. We just have to trust the talent here and hope the opportunity comes.
I love when a coach who knows how to use a certain type of player drafts that type of player. Between his time in San Francisco and Miami, Mike McDaniel has gotten a lot of explosive plays out of Raheem Mostert and Devon Achane is the fastest back in this class with 99th percentile speed, per PlayerProfiler. Mostert is 31 years old now so Achane should take over that role sooner rather than later. The only concern with him is that he’s undersized so may not be a full every-down back.
The big knock on Miller is his lack of receiving work in college. It’s not the end of the world but he has work to do in that department if he wants to be a three-down player. On the flip side, Miller is currently 20 years old and both Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams will be 28 when the season starts so time is on his side. There’s also the matter of a potential looming suspension for Alvin Kamara…
We’ve fallen for this narrative before. We tell ourselves that “Derrick Henry can’t keep doing it." Or that “the Titans will use a pass-catching back to supplement Henry." And, so far, that hasn’t panned out. But the Titans went back to the well to take a super-efficient college producer with third-round draft capital. So we’re ready to get hurt again.
Roschon Johnson is the “mystery box” because he got stuck behind Bijan Robinson in college. There’s a chance that he’s the second-best running back in this class who was simply behind the guy who is far and away the best. The problem I have is that he goes to a system with a highly mobile QB. Mobile QBs not only vulture touchdowns but some studies have shown that they target the RB less often. So you almost need to root for Justin Fields to become more of a pocket passer as he progresses (or for him to outright get replaced) for Roschon to maximize his upside. This tweet about the 2022 season illustrates my point.
If you are stuck between two guys and need a tiebreaker, having the name “Tank Bigsby” might do it. But there’s more to get excited about than just his name as he surpasses all the markers for size, speed, and production in both the run and pass game. The problem? He landed with the Jaguars who have Clemson college teammates and former first-round picks Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne entrenched as starters. If they pick up that fifth-year option for Etienne, that’s three seasons where Bigsby needs to share the backfield.
We liked Chase Brown coming in - he’s got the size and a 4.43 forty gave him a speed score per PlayerProfiler that’s in the top 10th percentile for RBs. Then he slid all the way to pick 163 in the fifth round which hurt. He landed with the Bengals which felt like a good spot but then Zac Taylor came out and said “Joe Mixon’s future is here with the team”. So we can’t rank him much higher than here.
Hull was looking like the quintessential PPR back given his profile. In the right spot he could even be the next James White. But the landing spot turned out pretty rough with the Colts. Even if he is the pass-catching back to compliment Jonathan Taylor, they also drafted a mobile QB in Anthony Richardson. And we just talked about how that’s not good for RB targets. Still, we like these types of players and who knows what the future holds.
“Izzy” Abanikanda quickly became a Twitter favorite during the predraft process with his size and speed. That came crashing down to earth a bit with the landing spot on the Jets. If Breece Hall comes back from the injury like the Breece Hall we saw last year, there might not be much left on the bone for Izzy or Michael Carter. If you take Izzy, you are really trusting the talent to emerge at some point - like Tony Pollard.
Outside of the landing spot (with the assumption Cam Akers doesn’t get extended), there isn’t a whole lot to love. He’s not particularly big or fast. The production was not great in college. But the chance at a meaningful role in 2024 is enough to give him value as a guy you might be able to “pick and flip” if he flashes.
This guy is probably not a full PPR player - best ball, standard, and maybe half-PPR is where he should live. He’s a bruising runner who had 233 carries for 1,713 yards and 19 TDs as a senior which makes it almost impressive that he only caught… two passes. His upside is the next Alfred Morris or Jordan Howard as a guy who is a battering ram that scores TDs but doesn’t do much in the passing game.
The Deuce Vaughn story is a fun one as his father works for the Cowboys scouting department yet supposedly left himself out of that process. Then the Cowboys selected Vaughn in the sixth round anyway. The issue with Vaughn is obvious, though, as he’s only 5-foot-5 and 179 pounds. He also only ran a 4.56 at his pro day, so he faces quite an uphill battle to fantasy relevancy. We’re rooting for him.
15. Eric Gray, New York Giants
The fact that Gray went ahead of some of these other guys surprised me after his tough pre-draft workout. A 4.62 at your Pro Day is pretty bad – and that’s before adjusting since it’s a “Pro Day” number, not an official combine time. If you pick Gray in a dynasty draft, you basically need to just sit there and root against Saquon Barkley signing any sort of long-term deal. I think Barkley and the Giants figure it out, so don’t love the spot.
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Related NFL Links:
- 2023 NFL Draft: First Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 NFL Draft: Second and Third Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 Fantasy Football: Best Ball Running Back Targets
- Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2023 NFL Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings
- 2023 NFL Draft Top Running Back Prospects: Bijan Robinson Highlights Incoming Rookie RB Class
- 2023 NFL Draft Running Back Prospects: Tank Bigsby Headlines the Rookie RB Sleepers