2023 Fantasy Football Rookie Running Back Sleepers

With rookie drafts well underway, it’s time to truly evaluate this year’s draft class, which includes identifying some rookie sleepers.

Some of these players may not have the draft capital you typically look for in your prized young acquisitions, but there’s a chance you could hit big with one of them in the late rounds of rookie drafts or even by picking them up as a free agent before the season starts. After all, those who have played in dynasty leagues know well the stories of players like Arian Foster and Terrell Davis.

We know Bijan Robinson is coming in as one of the best rookie prospects in some time, but is there a diamond in the rough to be found? Let’s scour through the depth charts and find some solid dart throws for your upcoming rookie drafts. These players are listed from the well-known to the obscure and not necessarily ranked in order.

Dynasty Rookie Sleepers: Running Backs

13. Zach Evans, RB LAR

The Rams have an unsettled backfield, and Gray could find his way onto the field to spell Cam Akers from time to time. In addition, Akers has proven to be very up and down and has dealt with his fair share of injuries. With only Kyren Williams to beat out for backup duties, Evans is a player to watch,

12. Eric Gray, RB NYG

The Giants took Eric Gray likely to give Saquon Barkley a break every now and then. Still, It’s a solid landing spot for one of the draft’s more intriguing RBs. This feels even more true with Barkley’s future still a little bit unknown. With Daniel Jones finally looking like a competent passer, teams cannot stack the box against the Giants. And while Barkley still has Matt Breida as his direct backup, Gray could put some heat on the aging Breida.

11. Sean Tucker, RB TB

This was the stunner of the weekend, as many had a third-round or fourth-round grade on Tucker, who fell in the draft reportedly due to a heart issue. With that, he missed the NFL Combine and had his own pro day instead, dampening his draft stock.

He subsequently signed on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent and will compete with Rachaad White for touches now that Leonard Fournette is out of the mix. He should be a solid target in a late round of rookie drafts, as he looks like one of the better UDFA signings this off-season (if he’s actually healthy).

10. DeWayne McBride, RB MIN

Dalvin Cook could be gone as early as McBride’s rookie season. Alexander Mattison is the next in line, but people shouldn’t sleep on McBride. He may end up with the highest ADP from this group even after being taken in Round 7 because of a golden opportunity. While he doesn’t offer much in the passing game, he did average a robust 7.4 yards per carry in college and that should translate to the NFL.

While many rookie drafters are targeting more mainstream players like Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs and Devon Achane, McBride could carve out as much early value as some of them.

9. Deuce Vaughn, RB DAL

The son of a Cowboys coach, Vaughn is now a backfield mate of Tony Pollard. He will need to improve as a special teams player and try to find receiving work to carve out some value after being taken in the sixth round.

Still, he averaged 111 rushing yards per game at Kansas State, despite being woefully undersized. He also had over 1,000 receiving yards in his career and is known for solid route-running as a running back. He should be good for at least a handful of targets per game and could push veterans Ronald Jones and Malik Davis for carries if Pollard gets hurt.

8. Kenny McIntosh, RB SEA

The Seattle Seahawks made McIntosh a late-round pick on Day 3, despite his solid pedigree coming out of Georgia. While we would have liked to have seen him taken by a team like the Bengals or Cardinals, Seattle is known for having open competitions for spots. Not to mention, he does something they love – specializes in missed tackles.

7. Chris Rodriguez, RB WAS

The Commanders open 2023 with a host of questions at running back after Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson formed one of the weakest committees in football last year.

Rodriguez doesn’t offer much in the pass-catching department when it comes to PPR leagues. But he’s a chain mover. He was solid at Kentucky and can break tackles at the line of scrimmage, something Washington struggled with last year. Rodriguez might be better in a best-ball format moving forward because of his lack of pass-catching, but he’s worth a look deep in drafts.

2023 NFL Draft Rookie Sleeper Resources

For a complete list of Dynasty Rankings by position, check out our sister site Dynasty League Football’s extensive resources:

  • 2023 Dynasty Rookie Rankings
  • 2023 Dynasty Rookie Quarterback Rankings
  • 2023 Dynasty Rookie Superflex Rankings
  • 2023 Dynasty Quarterback Rankings
  • 6. Keaton Mitchell, RB BAL

    JK Dobbins has been inconsistent and injured the past two seasons. If that somehow keeps up and Mitchell makes the roster, he’s certainly worth a look. After all, this is a player who has improved every year and scored 14 times last season, which was an increase of five touchdowns in that season alone.

    With the injury history of Dobbins and the Ravens’ typical use of multiple running backs, this is a player to keep squarely on your watch list.

    5. Mohamed Ibrahim, RB DET

    Ibrahim was ultra-productive at Minnesota last year when he posted a whopping 20 TDs.

    In fact, he had 37 scores in three seasons, despite missing most of 2021. He also posted 1,665 rushing yards last season alone. If you’re looking for production, he’s your man. Unfortunately, the path to playing time won’t be easy as the Lions selected Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round and signed David Montgomery in the off-season. Still, talented running backs tend to have a chance, and Ibrahim is just that.

    4. Deneric Prince, RB KC

    The Chiefs are likely going to cut bait on Clyde Edwards-Helaire sooner rather than later, as he’s proven to be a bit of a bust. Isiah Pacheco looked more like an RB2 than a player to build around last year, as well.

    Kansas City has the league’s best tight end but an unsettled WR room and backfield. Prince has been very productive in the past, though he has never scored as many six touchdowns in a given season. He also only had 17 career receptions, so don’t expect a big target share or a lot of yards per route run from him this year. Still, any Chiefs running back is worth a look, and he looks the part of a solid target late in dynasty drafts.

    3. Camerun Peoples, RB CAR

    If you just look at the numbers, you may not be that impressed with Peoples. After all, he went from 14 touchdowns to just five from 2021 to 2022. However, he only played in nine games as he battled injuries in a crowded depth chart at App State. With little at outside receiver, the Panthers are going to need to run the ball and only have Miles Sanders as an established option. Peoples is another name to consider when looking at late-round fliers.

    2. Xazavian Valladay, RB HOU

    Valladay could help an anemic run game in Houston. Dameon Pierce was solid last season but doesn’t look the part of a three-down workhorse. Much like Evan Hull in Indianapolis (another good sleeper), Valladay could be one injury away from prominence. This is one of the players you circle due to him being very productive in college (he had 16 touchdowns for ASU last season) and having a real chance to make a team based on a less-than-impressive depth chart.

    1. SaRodorick Thompson, RB NO

    Alvin Kamara is likely to be suspended for the early part of 2023 and unlikely on the roster in 2024. Jamaal Williams and Kendre Miller are next in line, but we’ve seen undrafted rookies jump more heralded players in the past. This one screams watch list as you continue to comb through rookie reports. Thompson is a very experienced runner and a well-rounded player.

    Fantasy Football Dynasty Rankings Explained

    2023 Dynasty Rookie Running Back Sleepers Methodology

    Running backs tend to have shorter shelf lives than other players. However, they are also the lifeblood of fantasy football, as they get guaranteed touches from week to week. When evaluating sleepers, it’s important to note the draft capital used on these players and their situations. Is there a clear path on the depth chart? Are they behind players who tend to get hurt? Are they in a one-cut or zone-blocking system that fits their skill set? Did they drop in the draft due to character or health issues? These are all questions you need to answer when identifying your running back sleepers.

    How to Dominate Your Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Draft

    Study. Drafts are won and lost in the later rounds, not the first. It’s easy to rank the mainstream “blue chip” players and secure them early. However, dynasty rookie drafts are won in the later rounds when you can snag productive players for a fraction of the cost.

    2023 Fantasy Football Dynasty Rankings FAQ 

    What is the difference between Dynasty Rankings and Superflex Dynasty League Rankings?

    Dynasty rankings consist of a list of the top players who are expected to make an impact in the upcoming season and in future seasons. These rankings are crucial for fantasy football players in traditional dynasty leagues, as they help determine the best players to add to their roster for long-term success.

    The main difference between the two is Superflex rankings include an additional premium on the quarterback position, as the Superflex format allows for the starting of a second quarterback in the lineup. In Superflex Rankings, the players’ value as potential quarterback starters is taken into account. Whereas in traditional Dynasty Rankings, the rankings are primarily based on the players’ long-term value and contribution to a dynasty fantasy football team.

    In short, quarterbacks are going to be valued more in superflex leagues since there are fewer in the league and they score points on a more consistent basis.

    Why are quarterbacks and wide receivers often at the top of Dynasty Player Rankings?

    Quarterbacks and wide receivers are often at the top of dynasty rankings because they are key positions in fantasy football. Quarterbacks are the most valuable players on the field, as they control the offense and have the ability to rack up points through touchdowns. Wide receivers are also valuable, as they can make big plays and score touchdowns. Both positions have a longer career arc than running backs.

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    written by

    Ken Kelly is a corporate trainer by day an a tireless editor of dynasty content by night. His passion for the World Champion Seattle Seahawks is second only to his love of fantasy football and the dynasty format. Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK

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