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Zach's Tiered RB Rankings

Tier 1: Workhorses with RB1 Overall Upside

Christian McCaffrey: The ultimate weapon at running back on one of the best offenses in the NFL. From Week 8 onward, McCaffrey was the overall PPR RB1 in fantasy points per game (23.0), three points per game more than the next player on the list, Austin Ekeler (20.1). Expect nothing but the best from McCaffrey as long as he’s healthy.

Austin Ekeler: Ekeler lands in the top tier of running backs by virtue of his production over the past two years, but a change at OC and more target competition at WR could prevent him from repeating as the RB1. He has a safe floor as a Top-8 running back, but that’s a wider range of outcomes than any other RB in this tier.

Bijan Robinson: Forget about where the depth chart says he ranks; the Falcons didn’t draft him to have him ride the bench. History is behind Robinson in his rookie year, and not only is he the best RB prospect to come out of a draft since Saquon Barkley (who tied for 2nd in PPR pts/game as rookie), but he also has an excellent offensive line and run-heavy scheme in Atlanta.

Tony Pollard: Ezekiel Elliott is gone and it’s Pollard’s time to shine. One of the most efficient running backs in fantasy football, Pollard averaged a ridiculous 27.8 fantasy points per game in two games without Elliott in the lineup. Nobody has challenged him for significant time this preseason, and he’s slated to be the new Cowboys workhorse.

Tier 2: Workhorses With Top-5 Upside and Nick Chubb

Josh Jacobs: Last year’s rushing leader is back with the Raiders after ending his holdout, and that’s music to fantasy managers’ ears. With Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm, I expect the offense to get worse – but Jacobs was one of the most efficient RBs in the league last year. There’s questions about the offense overall that make me less confident in Jacobs than the guys in tier 1.

Nick Chubb: Arguably the most talented runner in the league, he’s perpetually left in tier 2 because of his relatively low involvement in the passing game. That hasn’t stopped him from finishing as a fantasy RB1, but he has yet to crack the Top-5 in PPR scoring in his career. The Browns added Pierre Strong to spell Chubb while Jerome Ford is missing, indicating that Chubb will continue to be refused a full workload.

Saquon Barkley: Despite finishing the year as the overall RB5 in PPR pts/game, he was actually relatively inefficient on the ground and through the air. He’ll push for another Top-5 finish again with the workload he’ll receive, but he’s not as efficient a producer as the players above him are.

Tier 3: Top-8 Potential with Underlying Risks

Derrick Henry: Henry falls into Tier 3 as a result of a) his presence on what’s probably going to e an average offense at best, and b) the inevitable age cliff he’ll eventually fall off of. He’s already defying the odds as is and his production will be one-dimensional with Hopkins and Burks dominating target share and the threat of Tyjae Spears coming in on 3rd downs.

Jahmyr Gibbs: There’s temptation to put Gibbs all the way up in Tier 2, but it’s hard to forget the disservice the Lions did to D’Andre Swift’s talent last season. Gibbs seems to be locked into a very heavy workload, especially in the receiving game, and his ceiling is inside the top-8. With David Montgomery, though, it will be hard for him to dominate on the ground.

Jonathan Taylor: Things have gone from bad to worse with the Jonathan Taylor situation, and he’s going to be out for four games. That doesn’t change the type of weapon he is when he’s on the field and healthy, and he can still be traded. Wherever he plays this season, he’ll be capable of ranking inside the Weekly Top-10 each and every game.

Rhamondre Stevenson: Even if Zeke didn’t sign in New England, Stevenson would be ranked in the third tier - perhaps on the high end. But with Zeke in town, his ceiling comes down significantly and he profiles now as a low-RB1 whose best quality will be the floor he offers each week. The Patriots offense isn’t going to escape the middle of the pack this season, and Stevenson doesn’t intrigue me at all in 2023.

Tier 4: Deadzone Targets

Joe Mixon: A sideshow of meaningless drama this past offseason overshadowed the fact that the Bengals let his primary competition for touches go and didn’t replace him with anyone. This is still a pass first offense and Mixon hasn’t been very efficient as of late, but he’s an excellent RB2 with a chance to finish as an RB1 any given week.

Aaron Jones: Jones has quietly strung together good year after good year for fantasy purposes, leaning on four straight seasons of 60+ targets and 45+ catches to propel him to four straight top-12 finishes. The offense is a question mark in Green Bay and his week-to-week consistency wasn’t great last year (eight games of <11 fantasy points), so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pump the brakes a bit.

J.K. Dobbins: We’re projecting a big bump in overall workload now that he’s fully healthy, but it remains to be seen if that comes to fruition in 2023. The offense will be more balanced and Dobbins is head and shoulders above the rest of Baltimore’s backfield, and there have been hints of him getting some work in the passing game. If he can walk the walk to back up the talk, Dobbins could be this year’s Josh Jacobs.

Alexander Mattison: We can’t ignore the running back that Mattison has been without Cook in the lineup, but we also can’t just assume that his production in a few games over the years will translate to season-long success in 2023. The Vikings have three players that are more talented in the passing game than Mattison is overall, so his ceiling isn’t world-breaking – but he’ll be a quality RB2 on a consistent basis.


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