2023 Fantasy Football Rankings, Tiers: Expert RB Previews for Christian McCaffrey, Breece Hall, More
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Sean Koerner — FantasyPros' most-accurate draft ranker from 2019-21 — is breaking down his positional rankings and draft strategy for 2023.
Running back continues to be the most critical position in fantasy football.
There are two main reasons RB typically decides the fate of your team each season:
As the NFL becomes an increasingly pass-heavy league and RBs are deployed for specific purposes, there are fewer workhorse backs. Positional scarcity makes it critical to draft at least two workhorse RBs.
The position is very volatile. RBs are the most likely players to miss time due to injury or to lose their job. Given the position is much more about opportunity rather than talent, it paves the way for late-round picks or even waiver-wire pickups to emerge as league winners.
Because of those two factors, there are a lot of draft strategies focused solely on how many RBs you should acquire early on.
On one end of the spectrum is the Zero RB strategy, which I agree with … in theory. It mainly focuses on Reason No. 2 above, but ignores Reason No. 1. That’s why I would dub my approach as the RB Surplus Strategy: I first aim to draft two RBs before the end of Round 4/5 because, as I mentioned, it’s critical to acquire two who are set to open the season with a reliable workload. Then I target high-upside backs in the middle and late rounds.
Another important component of your draft strategy should be to understand the purpose of your bench. Generally, you don’t want to waste a bench slot on a quarterback or tight end since it’s very easy to find a replacement for either on the waiver wire if you’re in a pinch or need a bye-week fill-in.
If I have seven bench slots, I’ll usually aim to fill them with two to three WRs and four to five high-upside RBs.
Note: For Best Ball, my strategy is very different, and I usually draft five RBs total. (You can listen to my Best Ball tips, including how to approach roster construction here.)
The goal of stashing high-upside RBs, specifically, is to hopefully strike gold if one earns a one-off start or becomes their team’s starter indefinitely. Think about the backup RBs who usually require a No. 1 waiver wire claim or the highest Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB) bid to acquire when injury or depth chart news breaks mid-season — I can’t tell you how many times a RB who fits that profile was already on my bench.
Drafting RBs with the highest potential to be league winners allows me to be even more aggressive when I have first priority on waiver wire claims or still have a high percentage of my FAAB available.
To help you easily identify them, I will be releasing my RB Upside Ratings chart in the coming weeks. In that chart, I highlight which backup RBs offer the most upside at their current ADP based on where I will rank them when their starter is in/out of the lineup.
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