The most expensive backup in RBs to be drafted in 2023

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What would the world do without backups? If not for being a Fly Girl, background dancing on the show in living colour In the early ’90s, who knows if Jennifer Lopez would still be in show business? Jenny may have actually stayed in the building.

In NFL and fantasy football circles, the backup can be the bane of existence for annual fantasy managers because the overproduction of any replacement student—for these purposes, the backup running back—means either injury or ineffectiveness led to the switch. This adds to the level of frustration for fantasy managers who have often used a draft pick to fall back and must now dig through their standby rosters or waiver wire to find a lower replacement.

Is this a reason why Zero RB or Hero RB draft strategies are so popular? Very possible.

Each year, players from the bottom of the teams’ depth back tables have an impact, if only for part of the season. Tony Pollard caught Ezekiel Elliott last year to accumulate 1,007 rushing yards and 371 yards to finish as the RB8 of the season. D’Onta Foreman took over the running back role at Carolina after Christian McCaffrey was traded in late October last year. In Weeks 7-18 Furman ranked seventh in the NFL with 641 rushing yards.

This week we’ll take a look at some of the league’s most valuable backups, so fantasy managers can keep those players in mind either on draft day, or in some cases, on the assignment wire after the season begins.

What will not be on this list are the rookies. They’re valuable picks this time of year, so we’ll be giving them their own article next week.

Note: Positional ranking and average overall draft position (ADP) are in parentheses for each player.

Warren has as much fantasy buzz as any full backup in the NFL. My opinion of the Steelers’ running back room is very clear: Naji Harris is one of my buddies, and he’s going to eat. This is the MO for Mike Tomlin in his tenure as Pittsburgh’s head coach, as Harris was the net buzzer cow with 381 and 313 touches, respectively, in his first two seasons. However, Warren is a valuable backup as is because if Harris misses time, the heavy workload will be shifted to Warren, who has a utility in the passing game as well. Last year’s Week 17 showed he could share a load, running 10 lanes to 14 Harris Road. In that game, Warren touched the ball 15 times for 98 yards, while Harris had 123 total yards and a score on 24 touches.

Mitchell has that catchphrase referring to him: If only he could stay healthy. Mitchell only played in 16 of 34 games in his first two seasons. When Mitchell was on the field, he shared some of the load with last year’s McCaffrey. In three out of the six games they were active in together, Mitchell had double-digit touchdowns. He was included in the 19-12 49ers playoff game over the Cowboys, where Mitchell carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards. McCaffrey, on the other hand, saw 16 touches for 57 combined yards and a score. San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan gives McCaffrey the advantage, but that system is spreading to Mitchell and others.

Draft and hide Mitchell to see how his touchdown total fares early on.

Singletary goes into the same system as Shanahan with offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik coming from San Francisco. With Dameon Pierce carrying the ball 220 of the 329 total running backs for Texas last year, Singletary will reduce the burden on the sophomore. Singletary comes from Buffalo, where he’s only missed one game in the past three seasons. Last year, he totaled 1,099 yards, so he’s more accomplished than anyone else in 2022 Texas.

Patterson is just a season removed totaling 1,066 yards and 11 touchdowns. That was a good RB12 for the season. With the Falcons using a very tight tree for touchdowns, Patterson has a good opportunity to slip behind Bijan Robinson to run goals.

Patterson has suffered an undisclosed injury recently, so fantasy managers will at least wait until the start of the season to see how that affects his playing time week one.

Coming from deep in the Falcons’ running back depth chart, Allgaier rushed for 1,035 yards on 210 carries. All he got, though, was a step down into the Atlanta backyard for rookie sensation Pegan Robinson after the NFL Draft.

However, Allgeier is a physical runner who has been one of the best runners in yardage after calling RBs in the league, as noted from LaQuan Jones’ tweet below:

Even if Atlanta doesn’t match the league-leading 559 rushing attempts, with second-year quarterback Desmond Reeder at the helm, the rushing offense will still matter. Allgeier can have 125-150 carries while spelling Robinson’s most dynamic on the ground.

All of the Chargers’ running backs are obvious show plays, with Austin Ekeler himself saying on a recent episode of Ekeler’s Edge that the young men running the Chargers need to offer some support in the running game.

When I sat down with Chargers win writer Fernando Ramirez of the Sporting Tribune, Spiller recommended this year. Kelly has struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness in his short career, and Spieler is entering his sophomore year when many players reach a new level. Neither player may be draftable, but both should be on the radar for the waiver wire if one begins to assert themselves behind Ekeler.

Elliott’s just signing with the Patriots has ruined the magic of Ramondry Stephenson’s fantasy managers all around. Stevenson played through minor injuries last year, and starting in Week 11, he only had one game with over 100 scrimmage yards. Enter Elliott, who still scored 12 touchdowns last year while never looking like himself. Have a 70.4% success rate inside the five-yard line, according to Fantasy Points data. Stevenson will still be the starting linebacker, but Elliott will steal enough carry to be cached on the bench just in case.

Dillon is more of a 1B to Aaron Jones’ 1A, though the roughly 65 points of difference in ADP shows a clear separation between the two. Dillon is the bruising back of the two, and in the back half of last season he was given a bigger role. In Weeks 11-18, Jones ran 82 times for 383 yards and added 25 catches on 30 targets for 167 yards and two scores. Dillon in the same time frame ran 75 times for 316 yards and six scores, adding 12 catches for 107 yards. Even if he gets off to a slow start, keep Dylon on your roster.

Williams’ 17 touchdown barrage was fun, though it’s clearly an off-season that won’t be repeated. However, Williams will have a big role expected in the first three games of the season when the Saints’ star player, Alvin Kamara, is suspended. Williams could be a good pick in the Zero RB build, due to that initial bump in touches at the start of the year. The New Orleans coaching staff may want to ease the burden on Kamara, which brings Williams and rookie Kendrey Miller into the mix for more touches. The veteran, however, will get the edge early on.

With so much Josh Jacobs not reporting to camp, White has quietly shown that he’s a quality backup who came from a championship program in Georgia. White ran as a starter and scored against the Dolphins in the second preseason game. Recent reports indicate that Jacobs is expected to return to the Raiders just before Week 1, and that will make it difficult to replicate his 393 touches and 2,053 total yards from last year.

However, if Jacobs ever misses, White will have a huge workload waiting for him.

Edwards hasn’t played a full season since rushing 144 times for 723 yards and five touchdowns in 2020. A torn ACL in 2021 and a prolonged recovery last year hampered his ADP this year. Edwards trails JK Dobbins on the depth chart, though Dobbins’ extensive recovery from reconstructive knee surgery and subsequent contract dispute should give Edwards some consideration during fantasy drafts in the coming days. Edwards is as big a linebacker as Green Bay’s Dillon can pile on the goal line — and even more so, if Dobbins’ non-public negotiations continue into the 2023 season.

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