Best Rookie Running Backs (RB) 2023 Fantasy


Get to know these guys before your fantasy football draft

Are you looking forward to the 2023 NFL Draft next month?

Want to get ahead of the curve and start preparing your dynasty rookie draft rankings?

Whether you're a dynasty player, an avid best ball drafter, or just trying to get ahead of your redraft competition, these rookie RBs will matter.

Just ask anyone who had Breece Hall or Kenneth Walker last season.

Check Najee Harris' 2021 numbers.

And, of course, you already know the biggest name in this year's class.

Learn more about what could be a quick-impact group of players in this breakdown of the best rookie running backs in the 2023 class.

And see where all these incoming rookie RBs already sit in our Dynasty Rankings.


Bijan Robinson, Texas

5'11, 215 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 9.05 (out of 10)

combo of size, vision, and speed truly exemplary

Robinson stands atop the list of the best rookie running backs. He rose to prominence as the #1 RB recruit in the nation in 2020. He then delivered everything prospective fantasy managers could ever want to see -- and then some.

The talented Longhorn standout concluded his college career ranked fourth in Texas history in rushing yards (3,410) and tied for third in rushing TDs (33).

His 4.46-second 40-yard time at the NFL Combine ranks sixth among RBs in the 2023 class. And his ability in receiving drills matched the growth he displayed in 2022.

We’re looking a likely a three-down superstar in the NFL.

Full breakdown of Bijan Robinson


Jahmyr Gibbs, Alabama

5'9, 199 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 8.00

Small but speedy, gibbs could be a ppr demon right away

Gibbs is on the smaller side, but the Georgia Tech transfer displayed exceptional receiving acumen in the SEC. He also delivered the second-fastest RB 40 time (4.36) at the NFL Combine this year.

Sub-200-pound RBs make certain fantasy managers weary. But Gibbs’ vision and lateral agility at the second level will translate well to the NFL.

Expect to hear his name called anywhere from the late first round to the middle of the second in the NFL Draft.

Full breakdown of Jahmyr Gibbs


Zach Charbonnet, UCLA

6'0, 214 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 7.99

sized for early-down work, can charbonnet be a 3-down horse?

The former Michigan back struggled to earn a large role and overcome injury early.

Charbonnet found new life at UCLA and could have entered the 2022 NFL Draft. Instead he returned and set career highs in rushing yards (1,359), TDs (14), and receiving yards (321).

Charbonnet brings a well-rounded skill set and profiles as an early-down back with a large frame.

His limited but sound pass-catching ability and solid pass protection could earn him three-down status as a pro.

Full breakdown of Zach Charbonnet


Devon Achane, Texas A&M

5'9, 188 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 7.63

That flash you just saw might have been this burner

The dude’s fast as hell.

Achane was named the Gatorade Track Athlete of the Year as a high schooler out of Texas. He ran a 10.48-second 100-meter time as a collegiate runner.

So it’s no surprise that Achane’s 4.32-second 40 time at the NFL Combine led all RBs.

He’s smaller, but Achane racked up two straight seasons of 1,000 all-purpose yards to end his Aggies career.

A 188-pound frame should be big enough for a regular NFL role. Achane could easily be viewed as one of the best rookie running backs in this class if the right NFL team drafts him and plays to his strengths as an athlete.


Zach Evans, Ole Miss

5'11, 202 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 7.56

Quiet college career; can he make noise in the nfl?

Once regarded as an elite high school recruit, Evans struggled with playing time and injury across three seasons between TCU and Ole Miss.

He didn’t participate at the NFL Combine either, and we won’t see Evans test until the Rebels pro day March 29 in Oxford, Miss.

Had it not been for these obstacles, Evans would likely be thought of among the top tier of the best rookie running backs in this class.

Don’t count him out. Evans displays strong instincts and burst as a runner when healthy. In addition, he shows sneaky-good strength for a player his size. 

Evans could be an excellent fantasy asset with the right coaching and refinement of his skill set. Keep an eye on him as the draft process evolves. And don't be surprised if he becomes a Day 2 NFL Draft pick.


Sean Tucker, Syracuse

5'9, 207 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 7.56

There's something here ... but how much?

We’ll have to wait to see Tucker test his athleticism at Syracuse’s pro day (March 20) after he chose not to participate at the NFL Combine.

But the 2021 first-team All-American will have his fair share of suitors come draft time.

Tucker ranks third in Syracuse history in rushing yards (3,182) ahead of NFL Hall of Famers Larry Csonka and Floyd Little. He also holds the single-season rushing yards record (1,496).

The problem: He’s fairly one-dimensional, winning with straight-line speed and not much else.

He could be a damn good fantasy contributor if everything breaks right, but Tucker carries some risk.


Tank Bigsby, Auburn

6'0, 210 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 7.27

clear a path for this tank; he might go further than you'd think

Bigsby was the lifeblood of a less-than-stellar Auburn offense. He accumulated more than 3,000 scrimmage yards, finishing top-5 in the SEC in rushing yards in all three seasons.

Bigsby probably could have done elsewhere, away from the Tigers' poor offensive line.

Though Bigsby didn’t wow anyone athletically at the Combine, his rushing IQ and vision will enable him to be a solid early-down contributor.

They call him “Tank” for a reason. Take a better look at Bigbsby on film, and you’ll like what you see.


Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh

5'11, 216 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 7.56

you'll see big plays but beware

Abanikanda posted modest college production until his breakout junior campaign in 2022

Then he racked up 239 carries, 1,431 rushing yards, and 20 rushing TDs. Perhaps most impressive are the 38 carries of 10+ yards. 

He carries some risk, though.

Abanikanda ranked outside the top 100 of PFF’s Elusive Rating last year among RBs who received 100+ carries. He finished 13th on 116 fewer carries in 2021.

How much work can Abanikanda handle? We might not know until we see him in the pros. And he has yet to show much as a receiver.


Roschon Johnson, Texas

6'0, 219 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 6.87

does the 'other' texas rb carry sleeper upside?

Wait, there's another Longhorns RB you should know? Absolutely.

Johnson was recruited as a dual-threat QB but quickly switched.

Bijan Robinson overshadowed him, but Johnson showed bulldozing physicality and solid pass-blocking ability. And his special-teams play will help him stick on an NFL roster.

Johnson also possesses shockingly good burst. His 1.52-second 10-yard split at the Combine matched Robinson's.

Johnson isn't likely to become a fantasy star. But good NFL Draft capital could signal into high-end RB3 range -- maybe even low-RB2.


Tyjae Spears, Tulane

5'10, 201 lbs.
Prospect Model Score: 8.17

this lower-level prospect brings high-end potential

It took a while for Spears to get going as a college athlete, but he didn't slow down once his breakout finally happened.

Through two years in college, he had only played in seven games, partially due to a torn ACL in 2020. Spears found his groove in 2021, though.

The talented back logged 747 of his 863 rushing yards in just six games (!!!) over the second half.

He capped off his tenure with 1,581 yards and 19 rushing TDs in 2022. 

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see Spears participate in any drills at the NFL Combine. He did recently record a 4.47 40-yard time at his pro day, however.

Don't be shocked to see Spears' name listed among the best rookie running backs by the time we hit April.


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