3 Rookie Running Back Sleepers for 2023
Running backs have always been one of the most important commodities in the fantasy football world. The ceiling for a good running back can win you a week, almost by itself sometimes, and to top that off, a lot of RBs have a short shelf-life in fantasy, as the position takes a beating, and running backs are a lot more susceptible to injuries.
As a result, it is important that dynasty managers have a good stable of running backs available to them, lest they must start Gus Edwards in their dynasty championship game (Yes…I am speaking from experience. It was painful). So what is the easiest or cheapest way to acquire these running backs that are so highly coveted due to their position vulnerability? The answer here is that you should try to acquire rookie running backs in your dynasty rookie drafts. Of course, the highly touted running backs are going off the board early in rookie drafts, making it difficult to snag several of the best ones, but every single season, we see running back sleepers who go off the board in the later rounds of rookie drafts, only to win the starting role on an NFL team and be a fantasy football contributor. In some instances, you might even be able to find a fantasy superstar.
The examples of this are many when talking about rookie running backs that you can draft outside of the first or second round of rookie drafts: James Robinson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Antonio Gibson, and most recently, Brian Robison, Tyler Allgeier, and Isaiah Pacheco.
With the trend of good sleeper running backs now established, who are the sleepers you can target at the position in dynasty rookie drafts for the 2023 season? Let’s have a look, shall we?
Devon Achane, RB Texas A&M
When we are talking sleeper running backs, it is very rare that we are talking about someone who has the necessary skillset and the body-type build to be featured back in the NFL. Instead, we often see players who are specialists at one role or another at the running back position.
This is exactly what Devon Achane is. Achane is not very big, but as a smaller running back he is instead incredibly shifty and VERY fast. The role that Achane is likely to see at the NFL level is as a change-of-pace or pass-catching RB. Given his very high efficiency in college (never lower than 5.6 YPC in a season), and his ability to catch the football, Achane could produce for fantasy managers in a limited role.
So if you are looking for a running back to draft later on in your dynasty rookie drafts, you should target Devon Achane, who is one of the best rookie running back sleepers for 2023.
Evan Hull, RB, Northwestern
One of the standouts at the 2023 Senior Bowl game, Evan Hull has put his name in the hat for a sleeper running back. Hull has a good overall skill set, that allows him to contribute both in the running and the passing game. Hull is likely to be a Day 3 pick at the 2023 NFL Draft but could carve out a role as a pass-catching RB for a team.
Hull caught 88 passes over his last two college seasons (55 and 33 respectively), so he is clearly adept at catching the football. He also had over 400 rushes in 2021 and 2022 combined, so he can clearly shoulder the workload (276 touches in 2022).
Now, Evan Hull should be considered a deep sleeper, but he is someone who could be a target at the tail end of rookie drafts.
Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma
The last of 3 rookie running back sleepers, and also the most intriguing of the three, is Eric Gray out of Oklahoma. The soon-to-be former Sooner became the lead back in 2022 and he cashed that in for 1366 rushing yards and 11 TDs on 213 carries. That is a very strong stat line to the tune of 6.4 YPC. Gray also added 33 receptions for 229 yards.
Gray is a balanced RB when it comes to gaining yards, and he could become a good piece down the line for an NFL team. Gray is probably a Day 3 pick mainly due to the position he plays, but if a team likes him, he could end up as a Day 2 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Gray has shown a nose for the endzone, working well in short-yardage situations.
Gray struggles in pass protection, and he needs to finish his runs better, as he does not fall forward consistently enough. That being said, Gray absolutely has the skill set to be an above-average RB in the NFL, which is what we want from our sleeper targets that are available later on in rookie drafts.
Rookie Running Back Sleepers
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