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2023 Fantasy Football: Ranking Running Back Value By Measuring Versatility And Current ADP


Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

The future of the running back position in the last decade has tilted towards unprecedented versatility, seeking athletes who embody a new kind of "positionless" play. Gone are the days of a pure rusher, limited to ground gains; the modern running back is an adaptable weapon, effective in multiple scenarios. Fans began to see the peak value of this shift during Le'Veon Bell's dynamic tenure with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a player who could run, catch, and block with equal prowess.


This evolution then continued with Alvin Kamara, another dual-threat player whose ability to line up as a receiver added a new layer of complexity to the game. However, Christian McCaffrey stands as the epitome of this transformation. His ability to alternate between running back and receiver roles provides an offensive advantage and creates strategic mismatches that can dictate defensive personnel. McCaffrey's unique blend of skills challenges traditional defensive paradigms, signaling a promising and exciting future for the running back position.


The 2023 NFL Draft provided a few more versatile running backs with positionless potential. Bijan Robinson headlined the RB class, drafted by the Atlanta Falcons at #8 overall, followed by Jahmyr Gibbs, a player with late first-round buzz expected to be drafted in the early 2nd; the Detroit Lions drafted Gibbs with their 12th overall pick.


In this analysis, We will delve into the fantasy projections of the NFL's top running backs using three tiers. As everyone should know when you are competing in fantasy football PPR formats, the importance of drafting the highest volume players, especially the RB's, who can help you win your leagues is paramount. In recent years, the top targeted backs as far as total opportunities (or volume) include Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, and Alvin Kamara. These players are known for their positional versatility and significant contributions as receivers.


By examining their average career fantasy points as receivers, the percentage of fantasy points attributed to their receiving abilities, average points per reception, current average draft positions (ADP), and projected opportunities and points per opportunity for the 2023 season, we can gain insights into their expected performances. Let's explore their individual statistics to determine their final fantasy projections for 2023.


This analysis aims to identify the best value based on the current average draft position (ADP). By examining their projected fantasy points, career averages, and potential upside for the 2023 season, we aim to provide readers with valuable insights to navigate their fantasy drafts effectively. Our analysis will help readers make informed decisions and select the optimal option that maximizes their team's potential. Let's dive into the details and find the most advantageous choice to help you win your league(s).


Tier 1: Fantasy Football Running Backs

Running backs that average 40% or more of their total PPR points with a 2023 projected fantasy points total of 200 PPR pts or more.


Austin Ekeler, LAC RB (Low Value, Safe Bet)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 276.75

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 119

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 55%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.83

  • Current ADP: 5.3

Austin Ekeler has played an average of 14 games per season in his six-year career. He is projected to have 257.7 opportunities this season, with an average of 1.07 points per opportunity. These career averages show Ekeler's projected fantasy points would be 215. However, if Ekeler completes a full 17-game season, this projection could rise to 254.74, indicating a difference of 39.96 points. When considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Ekeler's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 276.75.


Christian McCaffrey, SF RB (Low value, Safe Bet)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 266.20

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 122

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 51%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.65

  • Current ADP: 2.3

Christian McCaffrey has averaged 13 games per season throughout his six-year professional career. McCaffrey is projected to have 273.2 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.97 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would total 238. However, if McCaffrey plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 324.22, creating a difference of 85.82 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, McCaffrey's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 266.20.


Alvin Kamara, NO RB (Best Value, High Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 202.93

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 120

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 47%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.68

  • Current ADP: 97.7

In his six-year career, Alvin Kamara averages 15 games per season. Kamara is expected to have 207.6 opportunities this season, providing an average of 0.98 points per opportunity. Using these career averages, Kamara's projected fantasy points would be 255. However, if Kamara completes a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 295.53, indicating a difference of 40.56 points. With his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats taken into account, Kamara's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 202.93.


Tier 1: Summary

Austin Ekeler, LAC RB (Low Value, Safe Bet) Ekeler's high receiving usage and solid career average points per reception make him a safe bet in PPR formats. He has a high projected point total for 2023, which aligns with his role as a dual-threat RB. However, with a high ADP of 5.3, you'll need to invest an early pick to secure him on your team, which may not offer the best value.


Christian McCaffrey, SF RB (Low Value, Safe Bet) McCaffrey's average career points as a receiver and points per reception are impressive. His projected fantasy points for 2023 are also high, indicating that he's expected to perform well. However, with an ADP of 2.3, he's being selected very early in drafts, which might not yield the best value given the risks associated with injury.


Alvin Kamara, NO RB (Best Value) Kamara's projected fantasy points for 2023 are the lowest of this group, but his relatively low ADP of 97.7 could make him a great value pick. His receiving usage and career average points per reception are strong, and his injury history is relatively minor. If he stays healthy and maintains his role in the Saints' offense, he could significantly outperform his ADP, making him the best value among these players.


Tier 2: Fantasy Football Running Backs

Running backs that average between 30-39% or more of their total PPR points with a 2023 projected fantasy points total of 200 PPR pts or more.


Breece Hall, NYJ RB (Good Value, Medium Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 242.81

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 37

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 35%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.96

  • Current ADP: 28.7

In his one-year career, Breece Hall played in seven games after succumbing to an ACL injury as a rookie. Hall is projected to have 223.4 opportunities this season, averaging 1.09 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 108. However, if Hall plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 261.31, indicating a difference of 153.71 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Hall's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 242.81.


Saquon Barkley, NYG RB (Good Value, Medium Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 227.67

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 71

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 37%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.43

  • Current ADP: 9.3

Saquon Barkley has averaged 12 games per season in his five-year professional career. He is expected to have 287.1 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.79 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, Barkley's projected fantasy points would be 190. However, if Barkley plays a full 17-game season, this projection could rise to 269.85, indicating a difference of 79.37 points. Taking his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats into account, Barkley's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 227.67.


Aaron Jones, GB RB (Great Value, Medium Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 223.87

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 68

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 34%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.68

  • Current ADP: 46.3

In his six-year career, Aaron Jones has played an average of 14 games per season. Jones is projected to have 239.5 opportunities this season, with an average of 0.93 points per opportunity. Jones's projected fantasy points would be 199, according to these career averages. However, if Jones completes a full 17-game season, this projection could rise to 241.76, indicating a difference of 42.66 points. When considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Jones's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 223.87.


Tony Pollard, DAL RB (Low Value, High Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 211.23

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 48

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 34%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.58

  • Current ADP: 20.3

Tony Pollard has averaged 16 games per season throughout his four-year professional career. Pollard is projected to have 240.2 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.88 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would total 139. However, if Pollard plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 152.15, creating a difference of 13.43 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Pollard's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 211.23.


James Conner, ARZ RB (Best Value, High Reward)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 201.70

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 53

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 33%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.53

  • Current ADP: 71.3

James Conner has averaged playing in 13 games per season over his six-year professional career. Conner is projected to have 235.3 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.86 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 161. However, if Conner plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 212.72, indicating a difference of 52.14 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Conner's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 201.70.


Tier 2: Summary

Breece Hall, NYJ RB (Good Value, Medium Risk) Hall's recent ACL injury may be a concern for some fantasy owners. His ADP of 28.7 suggests he's being drafted fairly early, so he could be a good value pick if he recovers well from his injury and meets or exceeds his projected points.


Saquon Barkley, NYG RB (Good Value, Medium Risk) Barkley has a history of missing games due to injury, which could be a risk for fantasy owners. However, his high projected points and substantial role as a receiver in the Giants' offense make him a potentially good value pick, even with his high ADP of 9.3.


Aaron Jones, GB RB (Great Value, Medium Risk) Jones has a slightly lower ADP than Hall and Barkley, which could make him a great value pick. His projected points are still quite high, and his history of being a significant part of the Packers' passing game could help boost his fantasy value.


Tony Pollard, DAL RB (Low Value, High Risk) Pollard's projected points are lower than the others in this group, and his ADP of 20.3 suggests he's being drafted fairly early. The risk with Pollard is that he's often used as a change-of-pace back behind Ezekiel Elliott, which could limit his opportunities.


James Conner, ARZ RB (Best Value, High Reward) Conner's projected points are the lowest in this group, but his ADP of 71.3 suggests he's often available in later rounds. His history of missing games due to injury is a risk, but if he can stay healthy and secure a significant role in the Cardinals' offense, he could provide a high return on investment.


Tier 3: Fantasy Football Running Backs

Running backs that average between 30-39% or more of their total PPR points with a 2023 projected fantasy points total Between 150-199 PPR pts or more.


Rhamondre Stevenson, NE RB (High Value, High reward)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 196.11

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 51

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 31%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.23

  • Current ADP: 26

Rhamondre Stevenson has averaged playing in 15 games per season over his two-year professional career. Stevenson is projected to have 255.8 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.77 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 163. However, if Stevenson plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 191.46, indicating a difference of 28.16 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Stevenson's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 196.11.


Joe Mixon, CIN RB (Solid Value, Medium Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 195.92

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 59

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 31%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.52

  • Current ADP: 48.7

Joe Mixon has averaged playing in 13 games per season over his six-year professional career. Mixon is projected to have 267.7 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.73 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 188. However, if Mixon plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 240.13, indicating a difference of 51.79 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Mixon's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 195.92.


Najee Harris, PIT RB (Solid Value, Low Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 194.81

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 82

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 35%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.42

  • Current ADP: 30

Najee Harris has averaged playing in 17 games per season over his two-year professional career. Harris is projected to have 287.1 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.68 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 235. However, if Harris plays a full 17-game season, this projection would stay the same, indicating no difference. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Harris's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 194.81.


David Montgomery, DET RB (Great Value, High Risk)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 159.72

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 56

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 30%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.45

  • Current ADP: 76.7

David Montgomery has averaged playing in 15 games per season over his four-year professional career. Montgomery is projected to have 230.2 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.69 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 186. However, if Montgomery plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 210.35, indicating a difference of 24.75 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Montgomery's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 159.72.


James Cook, BUF RB (High Risk, High reward)

  • Projected 2023 Fantasy Points: 149.49

  • Avg. Career Fantasy Points as a Receiver Per Season: 35

  • Avg % Fantasy Points as a Receiver vs. Average Career Fantasy Points Per Season .5PPR: 35%

  • Avg Career Pts Per Reception .5PPR: 1.64

  • Current ADP: 83.3

James Cook has averaged playing in 16 games per season over his one-year professional career. Cook is projected to have 169 opportunities this season, yielding an average of 0.88 points per opportunity. Based on these career averages, his projected fantasy points would be 97. However, if Cook plays a full 17-game season, this projection could increase to 103.38, indicating a difference of 6.08 points. Considering his points per opportunity and projected 2023 stats, Cook's final fantasy projection for 2023 is 149.49.


Tier 3: Summary

Rhamondre Stevenson, NE RB (High Value, High reward) Stevenson's high projected points and above-average points per opportunity make him a high-value pick. His ADP of 26 means he'll likely be drafted in the early rounds, but if he meets or exceeds his projections, he could provide a significant return on investment.


Joe Mixon, CIN RB (Solid Value, Medium Risk) Mixon's projected fantasy points are close to Stevenson's, but his lower ADP of 48.7 makes him a more accessible choice in later rounds. His six-year career offers a larger sample size of performance data, but it also comes with a history of playing fewer games per season on average, which adds some risk.


Najee Harris, PIT RB (Solid Value, Low Risk) Harris's projections are slightly lower than Stevenson's and Mixon's, but his average of playing a full 17-game season in his career thus far makes him a low-risk option. His ADP of 30 is in the early-mid range, so he could be a solid choice for a reliable RB who is likely to play the whole season.


David Montgomery, DET RB (Great Value, High Risk) Montgomery's projected fantasy points are the second-lowest in this group, but his ADP of 76.7 offers great value in the mid-late rounds. However, his four-year average of playing 15 games per season and his transition to a new team in Detroit add some uncertainty and risk.


James Cook, BUF RB (High Risk, High reward) Cook has the lowest projected points and the highest ADP in this group, making him a high-risk choice. But his high points per opportunity suggest that he could outperform expectations if he gets enough touches. His one-year career means less performance history to base predictions on, which adds to the risk.

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