Simple article concept- best Value 2023 RB Options. If you read my QB article (if you didn’t- check it out here). But essentially, drafts aren’t won in the early rounds- they just aren’t lost. Where you win your league is finding that RB2 or flex option at the end of drafts. WIth that in mind, I’ve got a few names for you that could be that guy.
Jerick McKinnon (KC)
RB38 / ADP 117
What if I told you there was an RB available outside the top 100 picks with legitimate RB1 upside? It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. It’s Jerick McKinnon. McKinnon’s stock has been on the rise as of late, likely due to other guys previously ahead of him falling.
He is fast approaching an area where he’s no longer a huge value, but he’s not quite there yet. This may be an end-of-holiday sale at the Value Village.
If you follow me you know that I am very much hitching my wagon to McKinnon this season, for better or worse. He’s a great value in the mid rounds & a borderline free buy in dynasty leagues considering his age (31).
After Week 8, the Chiefs clearly decided to get McKinnon more involved in their offense. From Week 9 on, he averaged 15.4ppg in PPR, an average that would’ve been good for an RB11 overall pace! Included in that stretch were two weeks of RB1 overall & another week at RB6.
In short, he was a league winner when it mattered most.
For whatever reason, drafters are fading him again this year. I’m not sure if it’s with anticipation that Pacheco takes more work or that CEH gets more involved, but I wouldn’t consider either particularly likely. The Chiefs are a win-now team & have McKinnon back on a 1-year deal. He was huge for their offensive efficiency down the stretch & I wouldn’t bet on them going away from that. McKinnon already had a massive 71 targets last season, & with the only other veteran presence beyond Kelce now gone in JuJu Smith-Schuster, there are 101 unaccounted targets ripe for the taking. McKinnon even seeing 15% of that would result in a major spike to his value.
Jeff Wilson Jr. (MIA)
RB44 / ADP 136 (Submitted prior to the news he was on IR)
There’s nothing sexy about taking the soon-to-be 28-year-old Jeff Wilson. You will get no “ooo’s”. You will get no “aah’s”. It may not be the pair of pants that ever gets you a compliment, but for $5 in your size, they’re excellent working jeans. That’s Wilson. The tough denim that every fantasy bench needs.
In the 8 full games Wilson played (including playoffs), he led the Dolphins backfield in:
- 10+ fantasy point games
- carries inside the 10-yard line.
Though he’s commonly selected as the third-best RB in Miami after Devon Achane & Raheem Mostert, I’d argue Wilson is by far the safest selection. His role as the early down thumper in an offense that reportedly is promised to be more run-heavy this season by Head Coach Mike McDaniel (31st in attempts last season).
If I’m starting my draft with a risky mid-round RB like Breece Hall, Jonathan Taylor or Javonte Williams, I’m 100% prioritizing Jeff Wilson late in those drafts. It’ll give me a talented early-season option at Flex or even RB2. Outside of Raheem Mostert, who has struggled with injuries, in this potent Dolphins offense, it’s hard to see a threat for the early-down work.
Roschon Johnson (CHI)
RB53 / ADP 169
I genuinely couldn’t believe it when I went to FantasyPros to look at Roschon Johnson’s ADP. We are talking about an incredibly talented mid-round rookie competing in an ambiguous backfield in an ascending offense. This is the retro sports t-shirt that might not be the talk of the town when you first buy it, but the boys will be buzzing when they see it at the summer cookout. **I’ll be honest Troy, I’m good on the clothes comparisons.** Same. But we all have that retro sports T, right?
Back to that ambiguous backfield part. It’s really important here. For anyone who doesn’t know, ambiguous backfields are those without a clearcut starter. Typically defined when the RB1 from that team is taken after the 6th/7th round by ADP. It’s often a team where we can expose unfounded value later.
With Khalil Herbert currently sporting an ADP of 97 overall, RoJo is a clear-cut candidate for unlocking hidden value later in the draft. While I actually really like Herbert’s game, there’s no question Roschon is already the better early-down grinder & pass protector, which should allow him to increase his workload as the season progresses.
It feels as though Johnson gets dinged for middling draft capital. But the reality is NFL draft philosophy is changing (more talented RBs fall to the mid-rounds). It also doesn’t really account for the fact that he was stuck as the backup to the best RB in the country (& my RB1 in fantasy this year) which suppressed his draft stock.
This is a back who recorded ONE fumble on nearly 400 carries. A 90+ overall PFF grade (not easy) with a 100TH PERCENTILE missed tackles forced per attempt rate on 139 total missed tackles forced. He is an imposing 6’0” 219lbs with the size necessary to handle a large workload if necessary.
Let’s not overthink this one.
Being drafted well behind relatively low-ceiling alternatives like Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Singletary, Tyler Allgeier, & Elijah Mitchell, Roschon offers us a screaming buy window to add someone who could very well end the season as an RB2 as the lead back for a talented offense. He’s not a RB who I would expect to flash as an RB2/RB3 type early in the season with both Herbert & D’Onta Foreman commanding snaps, but I do anticipate he finishes the season among that top 30 RB group.
Sean Tucker (TB)
RB79 / ADP 297
As you can see by that overall ADP (297), this is a DEEP value. But boy is it value.
Sean Tucker has been on my radar for a while now as he checked in as my RB7 in the 2023 NFL Draft class, & that may prove to be too low. For those who may not know, Tucker was a very accomplished RB at Syracuse University, amassing over 3,000 yards in 33 games. Unfortunately during the pre-draft medical process, an undiagnosed heart condition popped up that led him to go undrafted entirely.
He was then scooped up by the Buccaneers, who evidently recognized his talent immediately amongst a thin RB room, already anointing him the #2 RB on the team’s official depth chart behind only Rachaad White. He’s already been splitting FIRST team reps with White, & new Offensive Coordinator Dave Canales appears to be a fan, saying Tucker brings “juice” & “youth” that the RB room lacked. As the final chef’s kiss on the team’s actions telling you what they think of the UDFA rookie, the team only kept 3 RBs on the 53-man roster.
Speaking of Rachaad White. If I was writing a “things I’d pick up at Value Village & think ‘there’s no way I’d pay this much for that’”, White would be a headliner. This is a player with late-round draft capital who just checked in as the 39th RB in the NFL in Yards per Touch (out of 50). While this may not be a truly ambiguous backfield as mentioned in the Roschon section, White is an unproven RB being drafted in the deadzone, & that’s a great place to go hunting for late-round value.
Sean Tucker is a must-add for any team desperate for RB depth late. I literally have 100% exposure to him across my season-long leagues.
Last Round Dart Throws…
And for drafters that need names even deeper than this, here’s a short blurb on a few I like
- Ty Chandler / Vikings – Once again behind an inefficient rusher being drafted in the deadzone, Chandler is a sleeper for a serious workload & the floor of a useful PPR RB.
- Kareem Hunt / UFA – Without a team as of this writing, Hunt has received notable interest on the market & could be a worthwhile lottery ticket to see where he ends up.
- Tyjae Spears / Titans – Another highly graded college prospect, Spears offers a unique lightning to Henry’s thunder that could portend to surprising usage year one.
Join me again in a few days to checkout my Best Value WR Options! I’ll try to have a few more of those considering the depth of the position.
Image Credit: Jay Biggerstaff – USA TODAY Sports