2023 NFL Draft: RB Landing Spots Rounds 4-7 (Fantasy Football)
The 2023 NFL draft saw seven RBs taken within the first three rounds highlighted by blue-chip prospect Bijan Robinson and the surprise pick of Jahmir Gibbs 12th overall. The further the draft position, the tougher it is to pick out winners to target. Still, the later rounds last year saw several like Dameon Pierce, Tyler Allgeier, and Isiah Pacheco that had varying degrees of success in their first year. Allgeier caught the Bijan whammy, but Pierce and Pacheco still appear to have dynasty and redraft value this year.
Be wary of the hype though. The majority of RBs drafted in these rounds typically get buried in committees. There is very little margin of error where any injury or the arrival of a veteran still floating around in free agency can make them irrelevant.
Roschon Johnson – Chicago Bears
Round 4, Pick 13
David Montgomery left Chicago leaving a thin RB room of Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman.
This is going to be a very interesting committee to track. Herbert and Foreman have both been more than capable of stepping in and taking on primary back duties in short spurts. Meanwhile, Roschon is a bit of a tough prospect to gauge. He came to Texas as a QB but moved over to RB when the Texas RB depth chart was decimated by injuries. Before gaining a primary role, the generational Bijan Robinson took over at RB leaving Roschon with just a bit role. Still, there are a few things to like here.
At 6’2″ and 223 lbs, Roschon is huge and possesses adequate athleticism. He also demonstrated good hands and had good success operating out of the wildcat. Leave him on the waiver wires in redraft leagues, but if an opportunity opens up in front of him, make him a priority add. It also wouldn’t be the craziest thing to add him if anything happens to Justin Fields. P.J. Walker is a decent backup QB, but I would expect Chicago to add some wildcat plays run by Roschon in the event Fields isn’t a go.
Chasing chaos is a good tactic where the situation is murky and between Roschon’s developing ability as an RB and a RB devoid of top-end talent, the situation in Chicago is most definitely murky. This also means a speculative add over smaller RBBC types in dynasty leagues is warranted.
Israel Abanikanda – New York Jets
Round 5, Pick 8
Abanikanda rushed for over 1,400 yards his senior season at Pitt while accumulating 20 rushing TDs. Despite good size at 5’10” and 216 lbs, his game isn’t particularly physical. His contact balance is average with limited ability to push a pile, but he will make defenses pay anytime a reasonably sized hole opens with outstanding acceleration and sufficient speed to make defenders take on poor angles.
Breece Hall may miss time to open up the 2023 season leaving the work to someone else. Michael Carter appears entrenched in front of Abanikanda, but he seems to have the inside track for RB3 duties in front of Zonovan Knight. If it looks like Hall will miss multiple weeks, both Carter and Abanikanda are worth speculative late-round adds in redraft leagues. With a talent like Breece Hall in front of him, it’s hard to imagine Abanikanda having much dynasty value.
Chase Brown – Cincinnati Bengals
Round 5, Pick 28
This might be the best marriage between prospect and landing spot. Brown has good size at 5’10” and 209 lbs plus a 4.43 40-yard-dash speed. Every draft contains an RB that isn’t flashy but consistently does the sort of things that make for a successful NFL RB. Brown dragged an average Illinois offense to a good season while gaining those tough “NFL yards” against superior teams. Incredibly, Brown had at least 20 touches in every game his senior season, which he turned into 1,883 rushing/receiving yards and 13 TDs.
Joe Mixon appears on track to be the RB to own in Cincinnati as of now, but his hold on the position is tenuous with huge cap hits coming up. With Samaje Perine gone, the primary RB role appears susceptible this year and open for the taking after this season. If anything happens to Mixon, Chase Brown should become a “no matter what” add to redraft teams. Even with Mixon in the picture, Brown should be considered as an insurance policy. If Mixon gets out of the picture for any reason, I would consider Brown right after Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jahir Gibbs in dynasty rookie drafts. Enjoy the discount if you can get him in the mid-second of dynasty drafts.
Eric Gray – New York Giants
Round 5, Pick 37
Gray finds himself jammed deep on the depth chart with Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell ahead of him. Oh yeah, and then there’s that Saquon Barkley guy still in town. At best, he becomes insurance in case the depth in front of him clears out.
Evan Hall – Indianapolis Colts
Round 5, Pick 41
Like Gray above, Hall lands in an Indianapolis backfield with star RB Jonathan Taylor as well as Zack Moss and Deon Jackson. Hall looks and moves like a fullback, but he’s more than capable of getting tough yards and has good hands. Fantasy interest in him may be more scorn for the points he takes away from Taylor than his viability as a fantasy asset.
Chris Rodriguez Jr. – Washington Commanders
Round 6, Pick 16
Rodriguez is a one-dimensional battering ram without much to add receiving-wise. He lands in a Washington backfield with four capable backs: Brian Robinson Jr, Antonio Gibson, Jaret Patterson, and Jonathan Williams. It’ll be an upward climb to make the team, much less get enough work to make him worth a look in fantasy.
Deuce Vaughn – Dallas Cowboys
Round 6, Pick 35
Deuce Vaughn’s own dad, who works for the Dallas organization, was the one who made the call to let him know he was drafted. The video clip went viral immediately with Chris Vaughn asking “You want to come and work with me next week?” Chef’s kiss.
It’s an amazing story, but Tony Pollard, Malik Davis, and Ronald Jones appear ahead of him on the depth chart. There’s also the possibility Ezekiel Elliott comes back to Dallas. Vaughn stands 5’5″ and 179 lbs, which creates questions about his ability to handle a workload in the NFL. If he makes the team, he may only appear for a few snaps each game. There likely is no scenario where he becomes a regular fantasy producer, but he could be great as a change-of-pace player for Dallas.
Zach Evans – Los Angeles Rams
Round 6, Pick 38
Evans has been plagued by injuries, which may at least partially explain getting drafted this late. He is worthy of fantasy conversation slotting in behind Cam Akers and Kyren Williams. This is a backfield with a lot of fluidity. Evans is one injury away from fantasy relevance and could also straight win the job through the course of the year.
DeWayne McBride – Minnesota Vikings
Round 7, Pick 5
McBride is a fluid runner with some fun moves to avoid tackles, but he offers almost nothing as a receiver. He is sitting third on the depth chart, but he’s behind Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison. Things will have to go just right for him to become fantasy-relevant, and ball security issues plus his one-dimensionality may derail him.
Lew Nichols III – Green Bay Packers
Round 7, Pick 18
Maybe Green Bay wanted someone to challenge Quadzilla (AJ Dillon)? Nichols III stands 5’10”, but is 220 lbs of muscle. He has some receiving chops for a big man but lacks short area burst. He’s buried in the Green Bay backfield behind Aaron Jones, the aforementioned AJ Dillon, and Patrick Taylor. He may struggle to make the team this year and the backfield is highly unlikely to open up enough for him to be on fantasy radars anytime soon.
Kenny McIntosh – Seattle Seahawks
Round 7, Pick 20
Why Seattle, just why?! McIntosh is lanky at 6’0″ and 204 lbs. He tends to look for the big play and struggles at times between the tackles. He is, however, really good as a receiver out of the backfield. Unfortunately, he lands on a team with Kenny Walker III, Zach Charbonnet who was drafted in the second round, and DeeJay Dallas. This is shaping up to be a cannibalism story the likes of which we haven’t seen since the movie Hannibal came out.