The Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots for Rookie Running Backs

The Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots for Rookie Running Backs

Fantasy Football

The Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots for Rookie Running Backs


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As we edge closer and closer to the 2023 NFL Draft, the hype surrounding this year’s rookies is nearing an all-time high. This draft class is very talented, but the team that drafts them will severely impact their fantasy value and real life production.  Occasionally, very talented players fall into bad situations that limit their potential, on the other hand, some mediocre players land on teams who know how to capitalize on their skills. We’ll take a look at some of the best situations for a rookie running back to fall into that will likely boost their value.  

Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the most prolific offenses in the entire league, with Joe Mixon leading the backfield. Mixon has been incredibly inefficient but has performed extremely well, in large part due to heavy usage in an elite offense. The Bengals are soon to be in cap space dilemmas as they will need to extend Tee Higgins, Joe Burrow, and Ja’Marr Chase over the next three seasons. Mixon is under contract through 2024, but will be looking for an extension before his contract is up. The Bengals are unlikely to give Mixon a contract he deserves due to their necessity to extend other offensive players. Mixon could be cut or traded this offseason which would save the Bengals between $7 million and $12 million, opening the door for a rookie running back to take his place. Any rookie running back on this roster would have low end RB1 potential from day one. This elite passing attack keeps defenses back, opening multiple running lanes, despite the Bengals having a below average offensive line. And did I mention that this offense scores a lot of points? Double-digit touchdowns would be a given for any running back in this system.  


New Orleans Saints
The recent signing of Jamaal Williams should not scare off fantasy players, especially in dynasty or keeper formats. The Saints are preparing for a future without Alvin Kamara and a rookie running back is exactly what they need. With limited weapons in the pass game, any running back should be heavily utilized in this offense. The Saints have been spoiled over the past 10 years with the likes of Mark Ingram and Kamara carrying the weight of this run game, and I think the Saints would like to stick to that trend by finding a suitable replacement. While Jamaal led the league in rushing touchdowns in 2022, he had a below average 4.07 yards per carry and had under 70 rush yards in 11 of his 17 games played. Williams was also irrelevant in the pass game, and we know Derek Carr likes to pepper his tailback with catches, as Josh Jacobs had over 50 receptions in each of the past two seasons with Carr as his quarterback. Any running back drafted to the Saints would immediately step in as the third down back with the potential to take over a hefty workload. 


Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals are in a pickle as a franchise. They have some highly talented players but haven’t been able to put all the puzzle pieces together just yet. Star quarterback Kyler Murray tore his ACL at the very end of the 2022 NFL season, and is undergoing extensive rehab to try to get ready for next season. An ACL injury is a tricky one, especially for a quarterback who relies on his legs the way Murray does. As a fan of the sport and a supporter of player health and safety, it would be nice to see Murray sit out this entire season to fully recover from his injury.  That being said, the Cardinals currently have James Conner under contract through 2024 with a potential out following the 2023 season. A rookie running back who is drafted by the Cardinals would be incredibly appealing in dynasty formats. This offense is potent, and the run game is very good. Kyler Murray read option and play-action plays are extremely effective in this offense. If the Cardinals secure a running back this draft, they could take their time adjusting to the NFL and would split time with James Conner in year one. Starting in 2024, they would have the backfield to themselves with a fully healthy Kyler Murray; the possibilities are endless!  It would be a similar approach to how the Jacksonville Jaguars have nurtured Travis Etienne and the way the Denver Broncos have eased Javonte Williams into the feel of things.  


Denver Broncos and Houston Texans

The Broncos and Texans are both in similar situations. Both have absolutely bruising backs who may need some help in the pass game. Javonte Williams CAN be exceptional on third downs, but his coach, Sean Payton, loves the running back by committee approach and is likely to find a partner in crime for Williams. This would also alleviate the pressure for Williams to come back prematurely from his ACL injury. Sean Payton turned both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara into premier fantasy running backs at the same time. I believe he can do it again with Williams and another nimble back. The Texans have Dameon Pierce who is a sturdy, powerful back, but is really a non-factor in the passing game. It’s common for late round backs to lose their starting jobs, but Pierce played well and proved he deserves more opportunities. By pairing Pierce with a third down back as well as a franchise quarterback who the Texans are presumably taking with the second overall pick, this entire offense can thrive. 


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