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Fantasy Football: How 2023 NFL Draft's running back class stacks up using key stable metrics

Dallas, Texas, USA: Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown inst the Oklahoma Soonduring the annual Red River Showdown agaers at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Aaron E. Martinez/Austin American-Statesman- USA TODAY NETWORK

  • No surprise at the top: TexasBijan Robinson dominates across the board and justifies his unanimous ranking as the 2023 class’ top back.
  • The other Texas running back intrigues on a smaller workload: Roschon Johnson made the most of his opportunities and performs well in multiple key rushing metrics.
  • This year’s National Championship Game boasts the top two receiving backs in the class: Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh and Alabama‘s Jahmyr Gibbs stand out in key receiving metrics, increasing their value for PPR leagues.
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

NFL Draft season is well underway, and plenty of fantasy GMs are building their rookie draft boards for dynasty purposes. Utilizing all the information available will be key in building those draft boards. Looking at how each position stacks up against one another from an analytics standpoint is just one of the many tools to consider during the evaluation process. This series focuses on the key stable metrics that translate more often than not from college to the pros.

A few notes about how this series will work:

  • Rankings are based entirely on how these players performed in PFF’s stable metrics over the past two seasons.
  • Athletic ability and size are not taken into account for this process. Again, this is just one of many evaluation tools to consider.
  • This list includes the top-25 players at their respective position based on Mike Renner’s PFF big board but does not provide any weight to projected draft capital or the ranking in order to stack the class up in a nonpartisan manner.

Starting with the running back class, here is how the class stacks up utilizing PFF’s stable metrics for the position over the past two seasons.

Top-10 running backs in PFF rushing grade since 2021

Player Rushing Grade Rushing Attempts
Bijan Robinson, Texas 97.7 458
Zach Charbonnet, UCLA 96.4 405
DeWayne McBride, UAB 95.6 448
Devon Achane, Texas A&M 93.7 330
Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State 93.6 534
Israel Abanikanda, Pittsburgh 93.0 370
Keaton Mitchell, East Carolina 93.0 377
Chris Rodriguez Jr., Kentucky 92.6 401
Eric Gray, Oklahoma 92.5 291
Tank Bigsby, Auburn 92.4 409

Bijan Robinson’s 96.1 rushing grade in 2022 — the second-highest mark at the position since 2016 — led to his elite two-year grade, which is made all the more impressive by the fact that it was on a larger workload than any other running back ranked inside the top-10. 

After spending his first two college years at Michigan, Zach Charbonnet transferred to UCLA where his opportunity and success really took off, including back-to-back seasons of 91.0-plus rushing grades and over 1,100 yards on the ground.

DeWayne McBride has been dominant at UAB, earning a 90.0-plus rushing grade in all three seasons. He finished second in the country in total rushing yards and third among running backs in yards per attempt (7.3).

Top-10 running backs in missed tackles forced per attempt since 2021


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