After laying the groundwork this offseason with full Dynasty player rankings, I wanted to circle back and provide some tiers for added context to those ranks.
Some really quick methodology here if you are new to how I do tiers.
I make my Dynasty tiers based on a blend of age, fantasy performance, career arc, team situation, and fantasy archetype.
There is some overlap to actual player rankings, but these tiers do not specifically follow the rankings but rather those archetypes.
The purpose of tiers not being a carbon copy of player rankings is to spot a potential arbitrage situation and shop in different buckets based on how you are constructing your team in startups. They are also useful when looking for trade opportunities.
A veteran starter that can accrue points immediately might be worth more based on where a current roster is. Other times, it might make sense to chase more youth and upside for the future.
While these tiers will largely be a condensed view of the subset of tiers themselves, you can read more immediate detailed thoughts on every player in the 2023 running back rankings.
Dynasty Fantasy Football Tiers, 2023:
Overall Running Back Outlook:
Age is a catalyst for analysis among all of the positions in fantasy, but it has no larger impact on perceived value than it does for running backs.
Over the past 30 years, 65.2% of all RB1 scoring seasons have come from backs 26 years old and younger. Just 27 of the 360 total individual top-12 seasons over that span have come from a back age 30 or older.
That has skewed younger over the past decade, with 69.2% of the RB1 scoring seasons over the past 10 years coming from backs 26 or younger.
When looking at the pantheon of the position and the true players that impact seasonal outcomes, there have been just 14 running backs over the age of 27 to turn in a top-three scoring fantasy campaign in a given season over the past 30 years. The last time that occurred was in 2015.
The last time a running back over the age of 27 was the highest-scoring running back overall came back in 2007.
2022 did push back with no runner under the age of 24 inside of the top-12 scorers, so you do not have to make hard lines on player age.
But those top-down numbers do highlight the fragility of the position from a longevity stance, and your league mates will price that into any potential transactions involving running backs approaching their late twenties, let alone pushing the door on 30.
Running backs largely shine their brightest early in their careers while wide receivers take more of a runway to takeoff and sustained flight.
We are in a unique state of the position at the running back position. Even with the added 17th game, we are not seeing many old-school, three-down, running backs.
Even with the season expansion, we have only had 12 running back seasons over the past two years in which a back reached 300 touches.
The yearly supply of do-it-all backs that are carrying fantasy rosters is a shallow pool each season. While that subset of players greatly influences the outcomes for their rosters, they have been a scarce resource.
Paired with the opening notes on positional longevity, that makes it hard to overly invest in running backs from a Dynasty stance. Especially in a startup league compared to wide receivers.
Due to a stretch where the producers at the running back position are on the “older” range of the age spectrum and the position itself being impacted by committees and a surplus of viable candidates, the top of the position is as thing as it has ever been for fantasy.
*Player Age = Age on 9/1/2023
Tier 1A Running Backs:
- Bijan Robinson (Age: 21.6)
- Breece Hall (22.3)
- Jonathan Taylor (24.6)
With the market value the highest at the start of a career for running back, Bijan Robinson is already in contention for the top spot at the position despite not logging an NFL snap.
Robinson is as clean of a prospect as they come. He received the invested draft capital to back things up and landed in the league’s best running game as part of that investment.
Robinson just turned 21 years old in January. His yardage and touchdown production increased every season of his collegiate career. He has a 95th percentile career production score in my prospect model.
Atlanta running backs led the NFL in rushing yards (2,209) and yards per carry (4.9). They ranked second in expected points added per carry (0.04), were third in success rate (44.0%), and third in rate of carries to result in a first down or touchdown (25.7%).
Breece Hall may have the start of his sophomore season stunted due to a recovery from ACL surgery in November, but what he showed as a rookie was a true alpha ceiling.
Hall averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 11.5 yards per reception with five touchdowns. No running back in the league averaged more yards per touch than Hall’s 6.9 yards per touch that handled as many opportunities as he did.
Hopefully, we can squeeze out multiple seasons from Aaron Rodgers in New York.
Jonathan Taylor already has an RB1 overall scoring season on his resume and is in the final season of his rookie contract.
Historically, offensive skill players playing with rookie quarterbacks do not deliver front-end scoring seasons for fantasy. On the other end of the spectrum, historically hyper-mobile quarterbacks also have opened up running games and increased efficiency.
It will be hard for Taylor to be worse than last season. Among the 42 running backs with 100 or more carries last season, Taylor was 39th in EPA per rush (-0.16) and 37th in success rate (34.4%).
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