Dynasty Nerds

Top 12 Dynasty Running Back Tiers

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 18: New York Jets running back Breece Hall (20) carries the football during the second quarter of the National Football League game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns on September 18, 2022, at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH. (Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)

Dynasty rankings are one the most challenging things to do. This is because some teams are rebuilding for the short term, others rebuilding for the long term, or contending. Based on your roster construction, certain running backs have more value than others. The running back is my least favorite position to build around because they have the highest injury risk and the shortest careers. In addition, running backs hit the historical age cliff at only 28. While running back is a risky position to invest in, the value and impact they’ll have for your team is exceptional if they pan out.

These rankings will also include the top running backs for this 2023 class. Most prospects have already declared for the NFL draft, and Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs are already seen as top-end dynasty options. More so than any other position, age is crucial, so getting a good rookie running back to ensure having them in their prime is an excellent strategy. This list below considers all of these factors to provide the most accurate tier list of the running back landscape.

RB Rankings (PPR)

Stud Tier

1. Kenneth Walker

These running back rankings have changed drastically over the past year, but after all the dust has settled, Kenneth Walker has stepped into this top spot after a fantastic rookie season.

In his rookie year, Walker averaged 14.6 PPG since becoming the starter and looked fantastic. Many questioned whether his lackluster pass-catching skills in college would limit him in the NFL. Walker proved many people wrong and has shown great strides in the receiving game, with 27 receptions on 35 targets. In addition, Walker has long-term job security as he was a second-round draft pick. I like the future situation for Walker, as the Seahawks have excellent draft capital and cap space. I love the talent, youth, and situation for Walker. When evaluating a running back, you should look for these three essential things, and Walker checks every box.

2. Bijan Robinson

Despite not playing a single snap in the NFL, Bijan Robinson is already ranked as the RB1 in dynasty by many. While I see the argument and agree that Robinson is already an S-tier running back, the number-one spot is a little aggressive.

Bijan Robinson is one of the best running back prospects we’ve seen in years, as he is already getting comparisons to Saquon Barkley. Robinson is the clear 1.01 in every rookie draft, as he checks every box you’re looking for in a prospect. Robinson has the size to be a three-down back, measuring in at 6″ 0 220 lbs. Most importantly, Robinson has shown fantastic vision, burst, and power this past college season. It’s without a doubt, Robinson has elite-level receiving ability to go along with his phenomenal skillset as a runner.

This past season Robinson racked up 19 catches and already has an NFL-ready route tree. Robinson was used as a wide receiver on a little over 10% of his snaps which is a fantastic sign in projecting his passing ability at the NFL level. When evaluating a running back, it’s hard to get much better than the top rookie running back, who looks like he will be a fantastic three-down back for the next 8-10 years. 

3. Breece Hall

Breece Hall is another outstanding young running back who I’m incredibly excited about in the future. While Hall is also a great talent and only 21 years old, there are concerns about how he will return from his ACL injury. However, when Hall played in his rookie season, he was fantastic, averaging 16.4 PPG despite only getting 15 plus carries in three of his seven games. Hall showed out when given the opportunity showcasing his excellent receiving ability as well as his elite burst, vision, and patience.

I love Hall as a player. However, many people make the mistake of putting running backs coming off an ACL injury too high. It often takes these players a long time to get back to 100% because it affects their ability to make cuts. I also don’t love the situation, as the Jet’s offense struggled due to their lackluster quarterback play. The offensive line isn’t good either, as they were ranked 23rd by PFF near the end of the season.

I love Hall’s talent and youth; however, his situation and ACL injury prevent him from being the number one or two running back in dynasty.

4. Jonathan Taylor

(Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire)

Before this season, Jonathan Taylor was seen as the top dynasty running back after coming off a running back one finish at only 22 years old. Despite a disappointing season where Taylor only played in 11 games, he finished the season averaging only 13.3 PPG.

In Taylor’s defense, this Indianapolis Colts team was a complete mess this year. The offense was horrible as Matt Ryan played awful and was eventually benched and cycled out with Sam Ehlinger. The offensive line that was great last season was injury-riddled and ranked 24th by PFF. Even the coaching staff was a mess after the Colts fired Frank Reich and hired Jeff Saturday, who had no coaching experience in Week 10.

On the other hand, Taylor is a fantastic player who checks almost every box. Taylor is used as the bell cow running back who can catch passes which is essential to be a top fantasy option. I was not too concerned about Taylor’s injury last season; however, my one knock against Taylor’s overall player profile is his uncertain future situation.

5. Travis Etienne

To cap off the S Tier category, I have the second-year running back Travis Etienne. Travis Etienne was a phenomenal prospect coming into the NFL draft and was selected in the first round by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, his rookie season ended due to a foot injury that caused him to miss the entire year.

Etienne started the 2022 season behind James Robinson, who had an incredible 2021 performance in Etienne’s absence. Etienne began the season very slowly, averaging only 9.6 PPG through Week 6. Things changed drastically when, in week 7, the Jaguars cut ties with Robinson, making Etienne the lead back. Since becoming the starter, Etienne has had a solid season averaging 12.4 PPG on the year despite not being the lead back for the whole year.

In the long term, I love Etienne’s talent. Has he is only 23 and shows elite traits such as fantastic speed, cuts, and excellent hands. Etienne still has some areas to grow in, but I love the talent and the offense he is attached to long-term. With the emergence of Trevor Lawrence, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram to go along with the acquisition of Calvin Ridley, this offense could be one of the best in the league for years to come. If this offense takes the next step forward, Etienne will be a massive beneficiary being used as the three-down back. Having Etienne’s talent as a three-down back in a great offense warrants him the last spot in the S tier.

A Tier

6. Saquon Barkley

Moving into the A-tier running backs, we have two guys who are great talents but are 25 and older.

Barkley was great as a rookie but suffered a torn ACL at the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. He struggled the following year but was excellent again in 2022. Barkley was great finishing off the 2022 season averaging 17.8 PPG, good for the RB5 finish on the season. It’s without a doubt that Barkley has top-end speed and great hands and is a fantastic overall runner. Despite all this, Barkley has a few concerns that land him at the number six spot. One is that Barkley has a long injury history and is already 25. To make matters worse, the Giant’s offensive line was graded 31st by PFF, which is terrible for Barkley. Overall, Barkley is an exceptional player, but he has some red flags and is older than the players above, landing him at the top spot in A Tier.

7. Christian McCaffrey

Similar to Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey is another elite-level running back with age and injury concerns. For the next few years, McCaffrey can be a top-end running back; however, he has battled with injuries for the past few years.

When he does play, McCaffrey is phenomenal. This 2022 season, McCaffrey stayed healthy and averaged 21 PPG to go along with the running back two finish on the season. The 49ers are an excellent offense, and McCaffrey gets almost all of the meaningful touches out of the backfield. Unfortunately for McCaffrey, Kyle Shanahan has never had the same leading rusher for more than a year, so there are some concerns that his style causes injury.

I like McCaffrey, but he has a significant injury history, and he’s getting near the running back age cliff. This makes it hard to move him much higher than the RB7.

B Tier

8. Jahmyr Gibbs

At the beginning of the B Tier, I have the number two running back prospect in this 2023 class. While many people have Gibbs even higher than this, he’s at the top of my B Tier because he hasn’t played a single NFL snap yet.

I like Gibbs’s profile and he is already being compared to Alvin Kamara. Gibbs’s number one skill set is catching the ball, as he caught 44 passes this past season at Alabama. On top of this, Gibbs has fantastic speed, vision, and balance. This immediately gives Gibbs a very high ceiling and low floor, which you’re looking for.

Gibbs hasn’t proven anything yet, but because he is only 20 with a long NFL career in front of him, he deserves to be at the RB8 spot.

C Tier

9. Josh Jacobs

(Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

Starting off the C Tier, we have one of the biggest risers from this past season. Josh Jacobs has always been a solid running back but finally exploded going into his contract year. Jacobs averaged 19.3 PPG this season and ended the season as the RB3.

Like these other running backs, Jacobs has a long-running list of injuries that will likely limit his longevity. With that said, Jacobs is only 24, so he is a great pick for the near future. I love the talent with Jacobs as he is a fantastic runner who can catch the ball well. Conversely, Jacobs’s situation and red flag of injury risk weigh down his value.

This past year the Raiders were terrible. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the team is getting much better with Derek Carr leaving this off-season. In addition, the Raiders have a mediocre offensive line as they are ranked 16th by PFF, which isn’t terrible but nothing to get excited about.

Even though there are red flags around Jacobs, he can produce at a very high level for the next few years, which is why he is ranked as the running back nine.

10.  D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift is one of the biggest fallers this offseason, as he suffered multiple injuries throughout the 2022 season. Swift is still a great player but has had so many of his fantasy points stolen by Jamaal Williams, who had 17 touchdowns this season. While I’m a little concerned about Williams, he won’t repeat numbers like this any time in the future.

Even though Swift isn’t getting every carry out of his backfield, his phenomenal receiving ability gives him elite-level upside no matter what. Despite only starting eight games this year, Swift caught 38 passes for 389 yards. Swift wasn’t amazing but still managed to average 13.6 PPG on the year.

While Swift has a few red flags, such as his injury history and the fact that he shares this backfield, his receiving work and great situation make up for it.

Despite not making the playoffs this year, the Lions offense looks very good. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jared Goff took significant steps forward this year. On top of this, the Lions offensive line was ranked 9th by PFF near the end of the season, a major benefit to Swift. Above all, Swift is only 24, which warrants him the RB10 spot.

11.  Javonte Williams

Once again, Javonte Williams is a player with sky-high potential but has played in a committee and suffered injuries. Williams was a fantastic prospect with early second-round draft capital. The Broncos seem invested for the long term. While Williams had a very solid rookie year averaging 12.1 PPG, he tore his ACL and MCL the following year in Week 3.

Even though Williams is a phenomenal prospect who is only 22, he hasn’t proved he is elite in the NFL. Williams could be very good. I don’t have him ranked higher because torn ACLs are hard to come back from and can derail these running backs’ careers.

On top of this, the Bronco’s offense has looked terrible after trading for Russell Wilson this offseason. Although Williams is a solid pass catcher, his offense limits his upside. In addition, the Broncos offensive line is very average, as they are ranked 17th by PFF.

Williams is a very good player in dynasty as he is only 22 years old. His injury risk and bad situation are big red flags causing Williams to fall to RB11.

12.  Rhamondre Stevenson

Rhamondre Stevenson is another player making a name for himself in this 2022 NFL season. After a slow rookie season, Stevenson burst onto the scene finishing last year with 14.6 PPG and an RB10 finish

Stevenson has shown he is the complete package, showing he is a fantastic runner and receiver, hauling in 69 passes this season. Unfortunately, Stevenson doesn’t have the team investment like many of these other players, as he is a fourth-round pick. However, he is relatively healthy, somewhat young, and in an extraordinary situation.

The Patriots love to run the ball making this a phenomenal spot for Stevenson. On top of this, Stevenson is running back with the number five ranked offense line, which puts him in such a good position for the future. Depending on how the backfield shapes out, Stevenson could be even higher.

Stevenson’s only red flag is draft capital, as there is still a chance he plays in a committee next year. Even if that is true, Stevenson is still a great player who checks almost every box.

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