Yesterday, I went through every team's early training camp reports and. Today, we're backing up a bit and looking at where every backfield stands at this point in camp.
Look, there's a lot we still don't know. While there are only a few situations – Chicago, Miami, Detroit, maybe a few others – where we genuinely don't know who will be the starter, for the most part, there isn't a ton of ambiguity at the top of depth charts. That's part of what makes it soif the Colts decide they want to move on from Jonathan Taylor after his trade request.
But there's still a lot you can learn. And there's potentially plenty of value to be found in identifying ambiguous backfields and knowing where you might be able to find a cheap lottery ticket who could emerge as a useful Fantasy option. Because, more than at other positions, simply being on the field matters a whole lot for Fantasy production, and identifying which teams might have room for an unexpected starter – or have a backup who might become a starter if injuries crop up – can be a huge advantage in Fantasy.
Things can still change between now and Week 1, obviously, but this should at least give you a sense of the key names to keep an eye on. In tomorrow's newsletter, I'll go through every team's offense to try to figure out which ones are the best and worst for Fantasy production for running backs – and, hopefully, we'll get an update on the hamstring injury that forced Cooper Kupp to leave practice Tuesday – and later in the week we'll have a pick-by-pick walkthrough of every draft slot from the entire Fantasy Football Today team.
For now, let's go team by team and try to figure out where every backfield stands.
Breaking down every RB depth chart
Conner's hard-hitting style of running has left him vulnerable to some nagging injuries, but when he's been healthy, there hasn't been much room for other backs to do much in this offense. Last season, he played at least 71% of the snaps in seven straight games before leaving Week 17 with an injury. Ingram is a 2022 sixth-round pick and Clement is a journeyman, so I don't expect much from either as long as Conner is healthy, and neither would be a particularly interesting fill-in if Conner misses time unless this offense is just a lot better than we expect. One thing to note is how new coach Jonathan Gannon and offensive coordinator Drew Petzing will approach the RB position, but I don't expect much to change from last season.
Robinson is going to get as much work as he can handle in this very run-heavy offense, but Allgeier and Patterson should have a role. There's been a lot of talk about splitting Robinson out wide, and I think we'll see that a few times a game from both him and Patterson, while Allgeier seems likely to get six-plus carries most games to give Robinson a breather. Robinson has RB1 overall upside if the Falcons make a point of getting him 60-plus targets.
We don't really know what's going on with Dobbins – he's on the PUP list, but he's also apparently holding out for a new contract. Given he has little leverage, I'm assuming he'll end up getting to work soon and will be the lead back for the Ravens, in a way we maybe haven't seen from him in the past. The Ravens have always used multiple backs, and while I do expect Edwards to have a role, I'm hoping Dobbins has a more consistent path to 15-plus carries than he's had in the past. New offensive coordinator Todd Monken has had an RB average 14.5 carries per game in three of four seasons, while Dobbins has had 15 or more carries just four times in 26 career games. If you could guarantee me 250-plus carries for Dobbins, he'd be an easy top-20 RB, and potentially top-15.
The expectation in the Fantasy community is that the Bills will give Cook a real chance to be a lead back, but I feel like Harris is probably going to matter more than we think. A single running back has only played 65% of the Bills offensive snaps in 47% of their games over the past four seasons, and Devin Singletary is the only one to do it more than once; those 31 games have come out to an average of 14.2 PPR points per game; the rest of the league's RBs have averaged 17.95 PPR points when getting to 65% of the snaps in that same span. That's probably a ceiling for Cook unless they really get him involved more in the passing game, and if Harris is involved near the goal line, even that ceiling probably isn't on the table.
The Panthers are going to give Sanders a chance to be a three-down back this season, and I love the potential upside there if he hits – it feels a little like Josh Jacobs a year ago, with Sanders slipping to 22nd among RBs, often going off the board after the fifth round. Will he have a top-five outcome? Probably not, but if he can just be a dependable dump-off option for Bryce Young, Sanders could absolutely be a top-12 RB. If he gets hurt, I think we've seen enough from Hubbard to know he's just a low-end starter.
This is one of the more ambiguous backfields in the league, and it might just not be worth chasing – the Bears had the fewest passes to their running backs last season and ranked 29th in PPR points by running backs. That was fine when David Montgomery was playing 70% of the snaps and dominating passing downs, but if Herbert and Foreman are going to truly split work, the likeliest outcome is that nobody is really worth using here. The upside comes from the possibility that one back may end up with a lion's share of the work at some point due to injuries, and all are cheap enough (outside the top 100 in ADP) that it doesn't cost much to chase that outcome.
Once Joe Mixon restructured his contract to guarantee his presence on the roster for 2023, this became one of the most straightforward situations in the league. Mixon played 70% of the snaps in eight of the first 10 games before leaving Week 11 with a concussion. Mixon seems locked into a valuable role, and if he comes close to last year's 75 targets, he's probably a top-12 RB by default. One thing to note here: Williams was carted off the field Tuesday in camp. Brown was just a fifth-round pick in this year's draft, but he showed a three-down skill set at Illinois and is probably the handcuff to target here if you have to have one.
Chubb is arguably the best pure runner in the league, but his upside in Fantasy has always been capped around RB8 because of his limited passing game role. However, with Kareem Hunt gone and no significant replacement added this offseason, there's a chance he could have a 50-target season. He's one of the best bets in the league for 1,500-plus rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns, so if he adds another couple of points every week in the passing game, you could be talking about RB1 upside.
Pollard is going to be the lead back for the first time in his career. That much is all but guaranteed. The question is whether the Cowboys opt to bring in another body to the RB room, something that seems more likely after Jones was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league's PED policy. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about the possibility of bringing Ezekiel Elliott back Tuesday, as a matter of fact, and he had this to say: "He's not ruled out at all." I'm betting on Elliott being brought back, which limits Pollard's upside, though I wouldn't drop him outside of the second round. Elliott would have some touchdown-dependent RB3 potential.
Looking at where they're being drafted – Gibbs is Rb14 in ADP, Montgomery is RB29 – and the Fantasy community is clearly expecting Gibbs to be the better back here. And his pass-catching skills could lead to plenty of upside, even if this is a relatively even split. One thing I'll say is, Montgomery's upside is probably being underrated in an offense that gave RBs the 10th-most targets last season and produced the most Fantasy points. Montgomery won't replicate Jamaal Williams' 17 touchdowns, in all likelihood, but 10 is on the table, and he should be more involved in the passing game than Williams ever was. It's unlikely we get two top-12 RBs from the same offense, but Montgomery's chances of ending up there are better than you think.
There isn't much to say here. We've been thinking Dillon might take over as the lead back in Green Bay for a couple of years, but it's remained a pretty even split on the ground with Jones remaining the primary pass-catching option. The problem this season is, this offense might take a big step back if Jordan Love isn't at least an average NFL QB. The downside is, it's a frustrating split in a bad offense, but if Love surprises, this backfield could too. And, of course, there's significant contingent value with both players if the other gets hurt.
I'm a little wary of Pierce this season. He was terrific for a fourth-round pick, but now we've got a new coaching staff in town and a better backup than any Pierce played with last season. Pierce was the No. 21 running back in PPR points per game last season at 13.1 despite the fact that he got. This offense should be better in 2023, but it's no guarantee, and if Pierce drops to even a 60% RB touch share, he might just be a boring, low-end RB2. Not the kind of player who really helps you win games.
I mean ... who knows. Taylor requested a trade over the weekend, and the relationship between him and the team's front office seems beyond repair, but he also doesn't have much leverage heading into the final year of his rookie contract. My guess is cooler heads will prevail, he'll get back to work, and be one of the best running backs in football. But it's certainly possible this situation deteriorates to the point where the Colts trade him –. The bigger question here is whether the Colts might actually play hardball and either bench him or add him to the Non-Football Injury list and keep him on the sidelines. I'm not sure any of the other backs here are talented enough to matter in what is a pretty iffy situation if Taylor misses time, though Jackson did at least have a few moments of relevance when Taylor was injured a year ago. Let's hope they can figure this out because I don't have much optimism if Taylor isn't there.
Etienne was quite good in 2022, rushing for 5.1 yards per carry and generally looking like an explosive, high-volume runner once he became the starter. There are a couple of questions, though. Can he become a bigger part of the passing game, like he was in college? And, if not, can he at least hold off Bigsby, especially in short-yardage situations. Etienne could be a top-12 RB with a bit more usage in the passing game or a bit more success near the goal line. Without either, he's probably just an RB2, and not a particularly exciting one.
- No. 1: Isiah Pacheco,
- Backups: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon
Pacheco has been limited early in camp with a shoulder issue, but he has consistently maintained he will be ready to go for Week 1. He had no top-12 finishes last season despite becoming the starter in Week 7; he only had four top-20 RB finishes! Pacheco is priced reasonably, but there probably isn't a ton of upside even as RB28; I'd rather spend a last-round pick and see if Edwards-Helaire can take advantage of Pacheco's injury and re-establish himself as the starter.
Williams is going to be limited early in camp, but the expectation is he'll be ready to go for Week 1 after being cleared in his recovery from a torn ACL. The question is whether he'll be himself by Week 1, and I think it's fair to be skeptical of that. There's also, of course, the possibility of a setback or some kind of other injury, which makes Perine a fine target in the middle rounds. Sean Payton's offenses in New Orleans almost always had multiple viable Fantasy options, which could keep Perine relevant even if Williams looks like himself. Of course, this offense could also just be held back by Russell Wilson like it was last season, in which case we might be chasing upside that won't actually be there.
This one is relatively straightforward, if not necessarily simple. If (and when) Jacobs reports to camp, he'll be the clear lead back, and will likely continue to dominate touches. That should make him a top-12 RB by default, with top-three upside like we saw last season. If he doesn't report, we'll probably see White as the lead back and Abdullah handling passing downs, which doesn't seem particularly exciting at first glance. However, Josh McDaniels' offense has ranked in the top five in RB scoring in PPR formats for eight of the past 11 seasons, so both White and Abdullah could be Fantasy relevant if Jacobs isn't here.
The Chargers have treated Ekeler like a legitimate three-down back over the past couple of seasons, and it has largely erased the contingent value the RB2 role in this offense once had. With Ekeler playing all 17 games last season, Kelley had a single game where he finished as a top-30 RB. If you want to take Kelley in the last round of your draft, know that it is likely only as a handcuff play.
Akers came on strong at the end of last season, putting up five top-20 finishes in his final six games. That came when the Rams were just playing out the string on the season, but it's a sign of life, something we haven't seen much from him at the NFL level. That stretch saw him play at least 72% of the snaps in all but one game, so if there's any kind of timeshare here, he's probably a pretty fringe Fantasy option. On the other hand, I'm not sure there's much reason to think there will be a timeshare here if Akers is healthy. He could be a very useful RB2, and I'm not sure there's much reason to get excited about anyone else here if he gets hurt – Kyren Williams certainly had an opportunity to earn a bigger role as a rookie and never did, so I think I might rather throw a late-round dart at undrafted rookie Zach Evans.
- No. 1: Raheem Mostert/Jeff Wilson
- Backups: De'Von Achane
There's a Dalvin Cook-shaped shadow hanging over this backfield, and if he does opt to sign with Miami, I think it'd be safe to assume a 65% snap share for him. He'd probably be a top-20 RB, but probably not a top-12 one in this offense. If Cook doesn't sign, this could just be a muddled mess, with Mostert and Wilson likely in a time share – though, I'll admit I had forgotten that Mostert and Wilson had combined for 10 top-36 finishes last season from Week 9 on when Wilson joined the team. Achane is the dark horse if he can emerge relatively quickly as the lead back – his track star speed fits well with Miami's offense, and might be enough to make him stand out from Wilson and Mostert (who are, it should be said, plenty fast themselves). One problem? The Dolphins have been notorious for limiting what reporters in attendance can tell us about depth charts, so we may not have any sense of what the hierarchy looks like until Week 1.
Mattison has performed very well whenever he's been in a starting role,. After re-signing on a one-year deal this offseason, he seems like a safe bet to be the starter for the Vikings, but that one-year deal is a double-edged sword, because it means the team has no long-term commitment to him. There's little clarity behind him, which makes it awfully tough to know which of Chandler, Nwangwu, or McBride to target in the later rounds if you want to bet against Mattison. I'll give a slight edge to Nwangwu for draft capital reasons, but hopefully training camp gives us a better idea.
As things currently stand, Stevenson seems lined up for a very strong role in New England, though I've cooled on him a bit after initially projecting him as a top-eight RB. The Patriots reported interest in adding a veteran RB like Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook is part of the reason why, but Bill O'Brien's track record as a playcaller is also a little worrisome. The Patriots have historically thrown the ball to their running backs a ton, including the seventh-most targets last season. , when just 9.5% of their targets went to their running backs. That happened to be O'Brien's single season as the team's offensive coordinator. From 2014 through 2020, O'Brien's Texans teams ranked 29th among NFL teams in target share for running backs as well. Even if Stevenson is the unquestioned No. 1 RB here, is this as good a situation as we think it is?
We're still waiting on a potential suspension for Kamara, whose price has fallen to RB31 so far. That could end up being a huge steal if he ends up suspended for even four games, if the Saints still use him like they have in the past. Even last season,, which was a significant drop from the 20.8% share he had in his first six games, but which was also the fifth-highest mark for any running back in the league in that span. The Saints probably don't view him as the focal point of their offense anymore, but Williams is a two-down plodder and Miller still isn't practicing in his first training camp, so he might still be more valuable than we think. Miller is still a decent late-round flier, and Williams should be worth starting if Kamara misses time.
There are no questions here. As long as Barkley is healthy, he's going to play a huge role, with little leftover for anyone else. He's a pretty good bet for 300 or so carries and 60 or so catches.
Hall still isn't guaranteed to be ready in time for Week 1 in his recovery from a torn ACL, and the Jets bringing Cook in for a visit last weekend doesn't feel like a great sign, despite the team's protestations that the two are unrelated. Without the injury, Hall might be in discussion for the No. 1 overall pick this season, that's how good he looked last season. Instead, he's an RB2 who might not be particularly useful early on in the season. If the Jets don't add another back, Carter probably has some flex appeal, but we'd rather see Abanikanda get an opportunity for a bigger role; Carter is probably Just A Guy at this point.
All indications from camp are that Swift is going to take an active role in the passing game. The question we haven't really gotten an answer to is who will be the primary back on rushing downs. I'm operating, for now, as if it'll be a pretty even split, with Swift being the preferred option for Fantasy because of that passing role. However, if Penny emerges as the clear lead rusher, I'll rank both as low-end RB2s; if Swift is the lead runner as well, he might be a top-15 back. We'll continue to keep an eye on camp reports here, because there are real stakes to this ambiguity.
Harris' role was limited in 2022, relative to his 381-touch rookie season, but there really wasn't any point in the season where there was any question about the hierarchy, despite Harris playing through a foot injury for much of the season. In fact, Harris' usage increased as the season went on. So, you'll forgive me if I'm skeptical about claims that Warren may usurp him as the lead back in Pittsburgh. It's possible, but doesn't seem particularly likely. Warren will have a role, and maybe if Harris struggles that role will grow. But all signs as of now point to Harris remaining the lead back in Pittsburgh this season.
There's no question McCaffrey is the lead back and one of the best players in Fantasy. But there are some slightly troubling splits for McCaffrey in the four games Mitchell was active for alongside him; McCaffrey averaged 15.5 carries and 22.7 PPR points per game when Mitchell was out, compared to 10.5 and 15.3 when Mitchell played. We're talking about small samples across the board, with blowouts limiting how much we can take from those splits as well. It's not enough to knock McCaffrey from my No. 1 RB spot, but I wouldn't be shocked if Mitchell got 8-10 touches per game when he's healthy, which could complicate McCaffrey's upside some weeks.
Walker is the starter here, unless his groin injury causes him to miss time. In which case, Charbonnet would be the starter, unless his shoulder causes him to miss time. In which case ... I imagine Dallas would get an opportunity to start, with McIntosh handling some of the more obvious running situations. McIntosh at least should be on your late-round radar until Walker and Charbonnet are cleared – Dallas has been around long enough to know he's probably not ever going to be much more than a role player.
I've been a bit skeptical of the hype surrounding White, who I thought looked pretty pedestrian as a rookie. I thought there was at least a chance he might open the season in a committee, with a chance of just outright losing his job if he didn't pop pretty quickly. But I did see a report from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler from Bucs camp where he had this to say: "Not only will he get a heavy rushing workload, but the Bucs have been expanding his route tree." I'm not fully changing my view of White based on that – a lackluster rookie season from a third-round pick holds more weight than that – but it does at least seem to confirm that, at least right now, White is viewed as the clear leader in Tampa's backfield.
Henry will be 30 before the end of the season, and has more than 1,500 touches over the past four seasons if you include the postseason, so there's a chance the bottom falls out in a big way without much warning. Henry's efficiency has taken a hit over the past two seasons and he's no longer quite the big play machine he once was, which seems like a sign of decline. Of course, if he does hold up, there's little reason to think the Titans are going to go away from him, so I still expect him to brute force his way to a high-end Fantasy finish. Spears was a productive player in college and was a third-round pick, but there are real concerns about the health of his knees, so it's not clear what to expect between him and Haskins. We saw D'Onta Foreman emerge as a very useful Fantasy option in this offense when Henry missed time a few years ago, so we will want to keep an eye on the backup RB battle here.
- No. 1: Brian Robinson/Antonio Gibson
- Backups: Chris Rodriguez, Jonathan Williams
Robinson's going to handle the early downs, while Gibson will be the primary option on third downs. I feel pretty confident in saying that. Whether Robinson can earn a handful of targets in early passing downs or Gibson can steal more than a couple of carries per game (especially near the goal line) will determine which one is better. My money is on Gibson, for what it's worth.