2023 RB Rankings Analysis & Drafting Tips

by Michael Nazarek/John Holler

Editor's Note: Below you will find a portion of our Fantasy Football Runningback Rankings Analysis  & Drafting Tips for 2023.  If you'd like to read all RB rankings analysis, please click HERE to order our 2023 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

POSITION OVERVIEW - The running back position has always been an anomaly in fantasy football. As the passing game has become far more dominant, the value of elite running backs has continued to rise. If you’re going to win a league title, having a bell cow running back is a must. The problem is that too many of the top-end players have significant injury histories, including Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Jonathan Taylor. With young players emerging and climbing the list, this could be one of the most interesting running back draft classes in years as owners roll this dice on hitting the jackpot.

RB Draft Tips - Found exclusively in the Guide.

THE MASTERMIND'S BEST BET: Found exclusively in the Guide.

The following rankings are based upon PPR (point-per-reception) leagues!



1) Christian McCaffrey, SF – One of the most dynamic dual threats in the league, McCaffrey will be entering his first full season with the 49ers after bringing the fire back to his game. In his first three seasons, McCaffrey had two 1,000-yard rushing seasons, caught 303 passes, had a 1,000-yard receiving season and scored 39 touchdowns in 48 games. Injuries caused him to miss 23 of 33 games 2020-21, but his arrival in San Francisco changed the 49ers’ trajectory last season. In 11 games with the 49ers, he rushed 159 times for 746 yards, caught 52 passes for 464 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. If he stays healthy with an offseason of creating a subset of plays specifically designed to get him in space, it’s hard not to view him as the No. 1 fantasy back in the league. STAT FACT: You can’t really count his first game with the 49ers because he played three days after being traded. If you took his numbers from his final 10 games of the season and extrapolated them out over 17 games, McCaffrey would have rushed for 1,204 yards, caught 85 passes for 748 yards and scored 17 touchdowns – numbers worthy of the No. 1 overall pick.


2) Saquon Barkley, NYG – The Giants turned a lot of heads in 2018 when they used the second overall pick on Barkley – a decision that has been debated and mocked in the years since. Barkley made them look like geniuses as a rookie, rushing for 1,307 yards, catching 91 passes for 721 yards and scoring 15 touchdowns. However, in the three years that followed, Barkley struggled to stay healthy and produce when he was on the field – missing 21 of 49 games due to injury. In a make-or-break season last year, he bounced back with career highs in carries (295), rushing yards (1,312), 57 receptions and 10 touchdowns. As the Giants look to give their offense more weapons for Daniel Jones and more balance, they will need Barkley to remain the dual-threat centerpiece of the offense that can do damage in multiple ways. STAT FACT: Barkley’s rushing workload dropped as the season went on. In his first nine games of the 2022 season, he had 20 or more carries in six of them. In his final seven games, he never had 20 carries and averaged less than 14 carries a game – a hard pill to swallow for those counting on him.




3) Austin Ekeler, LAC – There have been Ekeler deniers over the past couple seasons but those haters have been forced to eat their words. When the Chargers showed Melvin Gordon the door, it opened the opportunity for Ekeler to be a full-time back and he has responded like few in NFL history. Not only has he held up, he has thrived. Over the last two seasons (33 games), Ekeler has rushed 410 times for 1,826 yards, caught 177 passes for 1,369 yards and scored 38 touchdowns. The same argument people will offer to not make him a top two or three fantasy RB (if not No. 1) is that he is undersized and is more likely to get injured by bigger defenders. But until that happens, it’s hard to argue his ranking based on incredible production. However, if Keenan Allen and Mike Williams can ever stay healthy for a full year, his receiving numbers will likely take a hit and he has never been a true workhorse back. STAT FACT: In his final 13 games of the regular season in 2022, Ekeler scored touchdowns in 11 of them – scoring two or more in six of those.


4) Jonathan Taylor, IND – Taylor was the consensus No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts last year for good reason. He was coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,800 yards, caught 40 passes for 360 more and scored a whopping 20 touchdowns. In 2022, the Colts had turmoil everywhere and Taylor’s numbers suffered. He was nagged by injuries that caused him to miss six games and he wasn’t dominant when he was playing – his yards per carry dropped by a full yard and his reception average dropped by almost four yards. The Colts are once again overhauling the offense – like they’ve done every year since Andrew Luck abruptly retired – but any success they have will need to involve a lot of Taylor. The have upgraded the offensive line and have the talent in front of him to rebound. He likely isn’t the No. 1 overall pick this time around, but he has the ability to earn that spot back again. STAT FACT: In his final 14 games of the 2021 season, Taylor had 10 games with more than 100 rushing yards and 12 games in which he scored a touchdown (and five games with more than one TD). In 11 games in 2022, he had just two games with 100 or more rushing yards and four games with a touchdown (and none with more than one). He missed time due to injury last year, but even when he played, it wasn’t close to his 2021 consistent production.


5) Bijon Robinson, ATL ® – The Falcons made a big move in the draft by bringing in Robinson, who is expected to be capable of being one of the rare three-down backs in the NFL because of his ability as a pass blocker. The Falcons got by with Cordarrelle Patterson (a wide receiver by trade) and Tyler Allgeier as their primary runners the last two years, but Robinson is a rare dual-threat talent who punishes defenders. In two years as a full-time starter at Texas, he rushed 453 times for 2,707 yards (a 6.0 yard average), caught 45 passes for 609 yards and scored 35 touchdowns. In the new era of the NFL where teams look to get the most out of running backs in their first contract, Robinson is going to have the opportunity to make an immediate impact. In a weakened NFC South where everybody has a new quarterback, Robinson could be the MVP of the division and help push the Falcons to the top.




6) Josh Jacobs, LV – Jacobs has topped 1,000 yards in three of his first four seasons, has caught more than 50 passes in each of his last two seasons, has scored 40 touchdowns in four seasons and led the NFL in rushing with 1,653 yards last year. Primary fantasy backs are graded on how many times in a season they have 20 or more carries. Jacobs averaged 20 carries a game last season and was as big a workhorse as any runner in the league. There are always concerns when a player has as many touches as Jacobs had last year (340 carries and 53 receptions for a total of 393). That is a mammoth number and, despite the change at quarterback, there’s no reason to believe that if Jacobs is healthy all season that he will approach those numbers again. It may have a long-term impact of losing tread off the tires, but, for the short-term, he’s a stud running back in an era when they are becoming a dying breed. STAT FACT: In his four-year career, Jacobs has caught 160 passes. He has yet to score a receiving touchdown.


7) Derrick Henry, TEN – Henry’s career numbers are astounding and should be better considering he spent his first three seasons in a timeshare that saw him with just 501 carries in 47 games. Over his last four seasons (55 games), Henry has rushed a whopping 1,249 times – an average of 22.7 carries a game. Under any measure, a 20-carry game is rare for most backs. It’s less than average for Henry. He has three seasons in the last four in which he has topped 1,500 yards, including 2,027 yards in 2020. He has averaged 109.9 rushing yards a game and, while he turns 30 in January, his moderate use in his first three years makes him a "young 30." A case can be made that, despite not being a receiving threat, he has earned the No. 1 ranking by weekly performance. It’s hard to say a player of his stature is underrated, but he consistently gets under-drafted given his point potential and as long as he’s on the field, to get him at this spot is a first-round steal in any draft. STAT FACT: Touchdowns are always a weekly field-tilter in fantasy matchups. In his last 65 games, Henry has scored 70 touchdowns. He’s as money as it gets when it comes to finishing drives.


8) Nick Chubb, CLE – Chubb has been one of the most consistent running backs in his five seasons in the league. As a rookie in 2018, Chubb ran for 996 yards. Since then, he has topped 1,000 yards in each of his last four seasons and has averaged five yards a carry or more in each of his five seasons. A case can be made that he should be among the top fantasy running backs, even though he has averaged less than 25 receptions a year in his career, but his value is undeniable. Factor in that Kareem Hunt cut into a lot of his time during his stay in Cleveland and now he’s gone, if Chubb stays healthy, he could be in line for another career season after rushing for 1,525 yards last year. STAT FACT: While touchdowns are far from the only factor that give fantasy players value, they’re huge if you score a lot of them – and Chubb does. In five NFL seasons, his touchdowns totals have been 10-8-12-9-13.


9) Rhamondre Stevenson, NE – One of the biggest issues Patriots running backs have had over the years is the penchant for Bill Belichick to mix and match running backs – making a different player the focal point of the run game against specific matchups. Stevenson got his opportunity last season and made the most of it – rushing 210 times for 1,040 yards, catching 69 passes for 421 yards and scoring six touchdowns. While his touchdown numbers aren’t great, he has positioned himself to carry a heavy workload and be a productive lead fantasy back, bucking the long-established trend in New England of mixing and matching running backs. STAT FACT: Stevenson’s numbers were artificially inflated by two games. He rushed for less than 55 yards in 10 games, but rushed for 172 yards and 162 yards in two games – representing 32.1 percent of his 2022 season total in just two games.



If you'd like to read all RB rankings analysis, please click HERE to order our 2023 Pre-Season Draft Guide.

back to top of page

FFMastermind Logo

The Definitive Fantasy Information Service

Mastermind Moment

FFMastermind.com Wins Another $1,500!
Sunday, January 7th, 2024

Many patrons ask Why should they subscribe to FFMastermind.com Premium Services when they are other cheaper services? Well, FFMastermind.com's Michael Nazarek did it again!

Read the Full Mastermind Moment