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Fantasy Football: Running back sleepers, breakouts and league winners

2RHRYTH Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) warms up before the first half of an NFL preseason football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals, Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Bijan Robinson landed in the perfect situation: Robinson is the best running back prospect in recent memory after landing on a run-first team with an excellent offensive line.

Cam Akers is finally the unquestioned starter: Akers is coming off three straight 100-yard games and is in the best situation of his NFL career.

Jaylen Warren is the second-year back on the rise: The Pittsburgh Steelers slowly but surely got Warren more involved in their offense last year, and they could eventually decide to give their most effective back the starting role.

Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

These league winners, breakout candidates and sleepers are players I believe in relative to ADP. For help on draft strategy, rankings or for more details about other players, check out the rest of my summer content below. For rankings with better filtering along with auction values, check out our draft rankings page.

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League Winners: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Breakouts: QB | RB | WR | TE
Position Draft Strategy: QB | RB | TE

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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, August 22

League winners

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons (ADP: 10.5, From ESPN)

Landing in Atlanta was the best-case scenario for the top running back prospect in years.

  • Robinson is the first running back selected in the top 10 since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Barkley finished as the overall RB1 as a rookie.
  • The four other running backs picked in the top 10 in the NFL draft also finished as top-10 fantasy running backs as rookies.
  • The Falcons were the only team to run the ball on more than half of their offensive plays last season, which included maintaining the run even when playing from behind.
  • They ran 48.8% of the time while losing, which was five percentage points more than any other team.
  • Those rates remained similar when Desmond Ridder took over as the team’s starting quarterback.
  • The Falcons' depth was a talented Tyler Allgeier and 32-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson. Allgeier can give Robinson a rest at times, but that shouldn’t stop Robinson from seeing 20 touches per game.
  • He will be running behind right guard Chris Lindstrom, who was the highest-graded run-blocking guard last season with a 93.1 grade, as well right tackle Kaleb McGary, the highest-graded right tackle last season at 91.6.
  • Falcons running backs have a 21.0% targets per route run over the last two seasons, which ranks eighth among teams.
  • Robinson is a well-rounded player who the Falcons will design more passes for than past running backs on the roster.
  • The Falcons have the eighth-best schedule for running backs in terms of the strength of their opponent over their first 16 games.
  • They also have the easiest schedule according to our power rankings, which should keep them in games and keep them getting the ball to Robinson.
  • This all adds up to what could be the first of many RB1 seasons.


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