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Fantasy Football: 8 must-draft backup running backs

2RJ2932 Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Warren (30) runs for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Buffalo Bills, in Pittsburgh, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Freed)

• RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons (56.0 PFF preseason offense grade): He is fantasy football’s highest-upside backup running back.

• RB Deuce Vaughn, Dallas Cowboys (75.2 PFF preseason offense grade): He is the NFL preseason’s No. 1 tackle-breaking running back.

• RB Sean Tucker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (55.4 PFF preseason offense grade): He has a chance to take over as Tampa Bay’s No. 1 running back.

Estimated Reading Time: 9 minutes

Backup running backs play significant roles in the NFL, both as weekly contributors and spot-start fill-ins. It is critical for fantasy football managers to populate benches with high-upside backups who can deliver spiked-week performances in the event that a starter misses time. High-quality Nos. 2 and 3 running backs can produce gaudy and efficient results when called upon, thanks to the high-volume workloads afforded to plug-and-play starters. And head coaches across the league show year after year that trusted backups will be fully utilized in times of need.

This article highlights eight must-draft backup running backs with average draft positions outside ESPN’s top 150 players. ESPN uses points-per-reception scoring as its default setting; however, many players listed below are equally valuable in half-PPR scoring formats.

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RB Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Tyler Allgeier (56.0 PFF preseason offense grade) is the most important backup running in fantasy football. He debuted as a 2022 fifth-round rookie, eventually supplanting starter Cordarrelle Patterson (81.0 PFF offensive grade) en route to a 1,000-plus-yard season.

Allgeier logged a 29.4% first-team snap share in preseason Week 2, per PFF fantasy football analyst Nathan Jahnke, splitting time with 2023 No. 8 overall pick Bijan Robinson (69.6 PFF preseason offense grade). The roughly one-third-starter snap rate is a fair regular-season projection for Allgeier, as long as Robinson is available to play.

Should Robinson miss time, Allgeier would be an immediate RB1 playing behind PFF analyst Sam Monson’s No. 7-ranked offense line whose 89.3 PFF run-blocking grade ranked first in 2022. Allgeier’s 14.09, RB47 ADP is egregiously mispriced.

The table below ranks in parentheses Allgeier’s 2022 rushing data among 45 NFL running backs with at least 100 rushing attempts.

2022 NFL RB Rushing Tyler Allgeier
PFF Rushing Grade 88.0 (No. 8)
YPC 4.9 (T-No. 10)
Missed Tackles Forced 51 (T-No. 10)
MTF/Rush Att. 0.24 (T-No. 6)
Yards After Contact/Rush Att. 3.6 (No. 5)
10-Plus-Yd Run Plays 21 (T-No. 20)
1st-Down + TD % 25.2% (No. 8)


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