Fantasy Football

Ranking the top 25 RBs in fantasy football for 2023

Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler once again lead the pack.

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If you've played fantasy football, you know it's imperative to stock up on valuable running backs to have any shot at a championship.

Dual-threat running backs like Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, and Saquon Barkley are league-winners. If you fail to select a top-tier RB within the first few rounds of your draft, chances are you'll be stuck scouring the waiver wire for a lottery ticket all season long. Or, you'll spend the year hoping the handcuff RB you drafted in the 12th round eventually gets an opportunity.

That certainly isn't a recipe for fantasy success.

Whether you're in a standard scoring or PPR (points per reception) league, the teams with the most consistent running backs usually end up dominating week after week. So, which names should you have on your radar in the first few rounds?

Here are the top 25 fantasy football RBs for 2023, based on half-PPR scoring.

1. Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers (Bye Week: 9)

As long as he's healthy, McCaffrey is a fantasy football cheat code. The 27-year-old didn't miss a beat after being traded from the Carolina Panthers to the San Francisco 49ers last season. He led all running backs in fantasy points scored from Week 8 to Week 17. McCaffrey vs. Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson will be a difficult decision for fantasy managers who have the first overall pick in drafts this year.

Projected draft round: First

2. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (Bye Week: 5)

If your preference is Ekeler over McCaffrey, we won't argue. Ekeler was a beast in the red zone last season and racked up a whopping 18 touchdowns after scoring 21 of them in 2021. He also led all RBs in both receptions and targets. Some of that receiving work was due to the Chargers missing star wideouts Keenan Allen and Mike Williams for chunks of the season, but Ekeler should still get enough volume to contend for the RB1 spot in fantasy leagues this year.

Projected draft round: First

3. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (Bye Week: 11)

We're expecting a bounce-back season from Taylor, who was banged up in 2022 and played in a dismal Colts offense. Taylor was the consensus first-overall pick in last year's fantasy drafts for a reason. He was a touchdown machine through his first two NFL seasons. As long as Indy's offense is competent in 2023, Taylor should return to form as one of the most productive running backs in the game.

Projected draft round: First

4. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (Bye Week: 13)

Barkley rewarded fantasy owners who took a gamble on him in last year's drafts. He shed his reputation as an injury-prone running back and played in 16 games for the Giants in 2022, finishing as the RB5 in fantasy football. With Brian Daboll at the helm, Barkley should be in for another productive campaign.

Projected draft round: First

5. Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 11)

All aboard the Bijan Robinson hype train for 2023. The Texas product, drafted eighth overall by Atlanta, enters his first NFL season as one of the most exciting running back prospects in years. He also couldn't have landed in a better spot for fantasy football purposes as Arthur Smith's Falcons offense is built around a strong rushing attack. He'll be a workhorse as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield, and we wouldn't rule out an RB1 finish.

Projected draft round: First

6. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (Bye Week: 5)

The knock on Chubb in fantasy football is he isn't often utilized as a receiver. That was true again in 2022, but he made up for his lack of receiving work with a whopping 1,525 yards and 12 TDs on the ground. Chubb is worth more in standard leagues, but he could be more involved in the passing game this year with Kareem Hunt and D'Ernest Johnson no longer competing for snaps out of the backfield. If that's the case, an RB1 finish is in the range of outcomes for the four-time Pro Bowler.

Projected draft round: Second

7. Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (Bye Week: 13)

A fourth-rounder in most drafts last season, Jacobs was the best value in fantasy football. The 25-year-old finished as the RB3 in half-PPR leagues with 1,653 rushing yards, 53 receptions, 400 receiving yards, and 12 total touchdowns. He should be in for another big year, but it's worth noting the risk involved with drafting Jacobs right now as he has threatened to hold out into the regular season due to his contract situation.

Projected draft round: Second

8. Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 7)

Like Jacobs, Pollard is set to play on the franchise tag in 2023 after a monster 2022 campaign. The 26-year-old finished as the RB7 in half-PPR leagues while splitting time with Ezekiel Elliott. Now, he's set to be the bell cow in Dallas' backfield. Pollard has league-winner written all over him.

Projected draft round: Second

9. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (Bye Week: 7)

Fantasy managers who passed on Henry last year shouldn't make the same mistake this time around. Henry finished as the RB4 in half-PPR leagues with an impressive season as both a rusher and receiver. He tallied 1,538 rushing yards to go with 33 catches for 398 yards and 14 total TDs. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the Titans offense will give opponents another game-breaker to focus on, giving Henry more room to run and a chance to win you plenty of fantasy matchups again in 2023.

Projected draft round: Second

10. Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots (Bye Week: 11)

This ranking could change if the Patriots add another running back -- cough, Dalvin Cook, cough -- to the mix before the season begins. For now, Stevenson is set to receive a ton of volume out of New England's backfield with Damien Harris out of the picture. The third-year RB averaged five yards per carry in 2022 and thrived as a pass-catcher with 69 catches for 421 yards. If he can find the end zone more this season, Stevenson could end up as a top-five fantasy running back when all is said and done.

UPDATE (Aug. 14): The Patriots did indeed add another RB, but the fact it was Ezekiel Elliott and not Dalvin Cook is great news for those who end up with Stevenson on their roster. Although Elliott will steal some goal-line work, Stevenson is still the clear workhorse in New England's offense and remains a fantasy football RB1.

Projected draft round: Third

11. Travis Etienne Jr., Jacksonville Jaguars (Bye Week: 9)

Etienne began the 2022 season as the No. 2 Jaguars RB behind James Robinson and still finished the year as the fantasy RB16 in half-PPR leagues. We should see the former Clemson star carve out a larger role in the receiving game and rack up more touchdowns this year. If he does, he'll be a slam-dunk RB1 with great value in the third round of drafts.

Projected draft round: Third

12. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (Bye Week: 7)

Mixon was inconsistent in 2022 but still finished as the RB13 in half-PPR leagues. Fantasy managers grew frustrated as Samaje Perine stole snaps and the bulk of the receiving work out of the Bengals backfield. Now that Perine is out of the picture, Mixon could find his way back into the RB1 conversation. That ridiculous five-TD game against Carolina was a great example of Mixon's tremendously-high ceiling.

Projected draft round: Fourth

13. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye Week: 6)

Harris was one of the biggest fantasy draft busts of the year for the first half of the 2022 season. But over the last nine weeks, the Alabama product was the RB7 in points per game and worked his way back up to the RB15 for the season in half-PPR leagues. If the Steelers offense takes a step forward under second-year QB Kenny Pickett, Harris could turn out to be a steal.

Projected draft round: Fourth

14. Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions (Bye Week: 9)

Gibbs is a home run hitter out of the backfield with blazing speed to go with his exceptional pass-catching ability. That's a recipe for fantasy football success. Just temper your expectations as long as he's splitting carries with David Montgomery, who's bound to steal most of the work near the goal line.

Projected draft round: Fourth

15. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (Bye Week: 6)

Despite finishing as the RB9 in half-PPR last season, Jones was a frustrating player for fantasy managers. He was the very definition of boom-or-bust and had countless goal-line carries stolen by A.J. Dillon. Now, he enters his first season of the post-Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. There are enough question marks to be wary of drafting Jones this year, but he offers high upside in the fourth or fifth round.

Projected draft round: Fourth

16. Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 5)

If you managed to get Walker off the waiver wire following Rashaad Penny's season-ending injury, you were a happy camper. Walker was the RB8 from Weeks 6-17 and a league-winner for many of the fantasy owners who were lucky enough to land him. But with the Seahawks adding Zach Charbonnet in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Walker's fantasy outlook is murky heading into the new season. He should still be an RB2 or weekly flex play at the very least.

Projected draft round: Fifth

17. Breece Hall, New York Jets (Bye Week: 7)

Hall's sensational rookie campaign was cut short when he suffered a torn ACL in Week 7. Prior to the injury, the 22-year-old had the sixth-most half-PPR points per game (15.4) while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. There's always a risk that comes with drafting a player coming off a devastating injury, but this is a risk worth taking.

UPDATE (Aug. 14): The Jets' signing of veteran RB Dalvin Cook undoubtedly hurts Breece Hall's fantasy value for 2023. While Hall should still have some big weeks, but Cook's presence puts a hard cap on his ceiling.

Projected draft round: Fifth

18. Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers (Bye Week: 7)

Sanders joins the Panthers following a stellar season in Philadelphia in which he racked up 1,269 rushing yards and 11 TDs. He finished as the RB11 and should be in for another productive year as the clear go-to back in Carolina.

Projected draft round: Fifth

19. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans (Bye Week: 7)

Pierce's rookie season got off to a scorching-hot start as the Florida product ranked fifth in rushing yards (739) from Week 2 to Week 10. However, his production fell off a cliff from there and his season ended prematurely due to an ankle injury. Now, he'll have to split some time with former Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary, who signed a one-year deal with Houston in the offseason. That doesn't mean you should fade Pierce if he's available in the fourth or fifth round, just set your expectations accordingly.

Projected draft round: Fifth

20. J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 13)

Injuries are the No. 1 concern with Dobbins. He returned from ACL surgery in Week 3 of the 2022 season but needed another knee surgery after Week 6 that put him on injured reserve until Week 14. The good news is he was extremely productive in his late-season return, giving fantasy managers plenty to consider when he's available in the fourth or fifth round.

Projected draft round: Fifth

21. Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings (Bye Week: 13)

Mattison has been arguably the most valuable handcuff RB in fantasy football for the last several years behind oft-injured starter Dalvin Cook. Now that Cook is out of his way, it'll be fascinating to see how the 25-year-old fares as Minnesota's feature back. He's flashed enough talent to warrant drafting him as an RB2, but there's obvious risk that comes with drafting a running back who hasn't played a full NFL season.

Projected draft round: Fifth

22. Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (Bye Week: 10)

Akers went from being on the verge of being traded or cut by the Rams to being one of the best running backs in fantasy football over the last few weeks of the 2022 season. The 24-year-old should pick up where he left off as the clear No. 1 RB on the roster, though we won't blame you if you're worried about his bust potential.

Projected draft round: Fifth

23. James Conner, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 14)

Conner is in for another high-volume season as the clear No. 1 Cardinals RB entering 2023. The 28-year-old's heavy workload and knack for finding the end zone should make him a stellar value add in fantasy football leagues if stays healthy, which has been a big "if" in recent years.

Projected draft round: Sixth

24. D'Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye Week: 10)

The Lions traded Swift to the Eagles after drafting Gibbs with the 12th overall pick in the 2023 draft. Swift has proven to be an elite talent when healthy, but his injury woes have haunted fantasy managers since he entered the league with Detroit in 2020. Plus, he now joins a crowded Eagles backfield that also includes Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell, and Boston Scott. While there's high upside in the loaded Philly offense, proceed with caution with one of the riskiest selections in fantasy football.

Projected draft round: Sixth

25. David Montgomery, Detroit Lions (Bye Week: 9)

Montgomery presumably will take on the Jamaal Williams role with Detroit, which was a lucrative one for fantasy football managers last season. He isn't the sexiest draft pick, especially now that he has to compete for carries with the dynamic Gibbs, but he could prove to be a steal if his production comes anywhere close to Williams' 2022 campaign.

Projected draft round: Sixth

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