Fantasy Football 2023 Rankings: An early look at the top-12 running backs from the Fantasy Football Today team

The 2022 season isn’t over yet with the NFL playoffs about to begin, but we’re already looking ahead to next year. We want to make sure you’re more than ready for the 2023 Fantasy Football campaign.

With that in mind, here’s an early look at our top 12 Fantasy running backs for 2023 in PPR, and it’s very much subject to change. We know a lot is going to happen between now and the start of training camp — coaching changes, free agency, the NFL Draft, etc. — and we will adjust our rankings accordingly.

But for now, here’s the first look at the top 12 running backs for 2023 from Adam Aizer, Heath Cummings, Dave Richard, Chris Towers and myself. Start your prep work now — and hopefully win a championship this season.

Adam Aizer

1. Christian McCaffrey

2. Austin Ekeler

3. Jonathan Taylor

4. Saquon Barkley

5. Joe Mixon

6. Derrick Henry

7. Travis Etienne

8. Kenneth Walker III

9. Josh Jacobs

10. D’Andre Swift

11. Breece Hall

12. Javonte Williams

Heath Cummings

1. Christian McCaffrey

2. Saquon Barkley

3. Jonathan Taylor

4. Austin Ekeler

5. Joe Mixon

6. Kenneth Walker III

7. Travis Etienne

8. Josh Jacobs

9. Derrick Henry

10. Breece Hall

11. Nick Chubb

12. Dalvin Cook

Jamie Eisenberg

1. Christian McCaffrey

2. Austin Ekeler

3. Jonathan Taylor

4. Saquon Barkley

5. Kenneth Walker III

6. Travis Etienne

7. Joe Mixon

8. Josh Jacobs

9. Derrick Henry

10. Breece Hall

11. Tony Pollard

12. Rhamondre Stevenson

Dave Richard

1. Christian McCaffrey

2. Austin Ekeler

3. Jonathan Taylor

4. Saquon Barkley

5. Kenneth Walker

6. Derrick Henry

7. Josh Jacobs

8. Najee Harris

9. Breece Hall

10. Joe Mixon

11. Nick Chubb

12. Travis Etienne

Chris Towers

1. Austin Ekeler

2. Christian McCaffrey

3. Jonathan Taylor

4. Saquon Barkley

5. Josh Jacobs

6. Derrick Henry

7. Breece Hall

8. Joe Mixon

9. Nick Chubb

10. Tony Pollard

11. Dalvin Cook

12. Rhamondre Stevenson

Welcome back, Christian McCaffrey. For the past two seasons, we’ve been waiting to see what McCaffrey could do when healthy, and he showed us in 2022 — with two different teams. For the season, McCaffrey averaged 21.1 PPR points per game, which was second behind only Ekeler (21.9). But McCaffrey was amazing with the 49ers, which gives us hope for another strong campaign in 2023.

He averaged 22.2 PPR points per game in his final 10 games in San Francisco, including five outings with at least 25 PPR points. He also had 50 catches over that span. While he might share touches with Elijah Mitchell next season, McCaffrey should get plenty of work to justify drafting him as the No. 1 running back in all leagues and the potential No. 1 overall pick.

Now, Chris has Ekeler as the No. 1 running back — he’s No. 2 for Adam, Dave and me and No. 4 for Heath — and Ekeler should once again be awesome. This is now the second year in a row he averaged at least 21.5 PPR points per game, and hopefully, that continues in 2023. The only concern might be his age (28 in May), and a potential decline could be coming. The counter to that is he wasn’t a featured running back until 2021, so hopefully he doesn’t have much wear and tear on his body.

Taylor is the consensus no. 3 running back for all of us, and hopefully he will bounce back in 2023 after a down year in 2022. The No. 1 running back in 2021 at 21.9 PPR points per game, Taylor battled injuries and a disastrous situation around him this season and averaged just 13.3 PPR points per game. He’s only 24, and we expect the Colts to upgrade at coach, quarterback and offensive line this offseason, which is why we’re all in again on Taylor.

Barkley is a top-four running back for all of us (he’s No. 2 for Heath), and it was great to see him rebound in 2022 after two down seasons. He averaged 17.8 PPR points per game, which was his best season since 2019. Barkley is headed into free agency this offseason, so his Fantasy value could change dramatically if he leaves the Giants. But if he stays, which is ideal, he’ll be with a great coach in Brian Daboll and an offensive line on the rise. He’ll also be just 26, so another season of standout production is well within reach.

When we get to No. 5 is when things start to change in our rankings. Adam and Heath have Mixon there, me and Dave have Walker and Chris has Jacobs.

Let’s start with Mixon, who averaged 17.1 PPR points per game for the season but went over 17 PPR points just twice, including a 54-point outing in Week 9. The positives for Mixon are he had career highs in targets (75), catches (60) and receiving yards (441) in only 14 games. But he went from 16 total touchdowns in 2021 to just nine in 2022, and his yards per carry dropped to 3.9. I expect Mixon’s touchdowns to rebound in 2023 because he plays in an explosive offense, and if his receiving totals stay in this range then he’s worth drafting as the No. 5 running backs.

I’ll take Walker ahead of Mixon, and I love what Walker did as a rookie. He only averaged 13.5 PPR points per game for the season, but in his final 11 healthy games, he averaged 17.2 PPR points per game. The Seahawks have plenty of draft capital to improve their offensive line, which should be a strength in 2023, and Walker will get plenty of work under coach Pete Carroll. I’m surprised Chris doesn’t have him in the top 12.

For Chris, he’s going with Jacobs at No. 5, and he just led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,653. He also averaged 19.3 PPR points per game and was exceptional. He’s a free agent this offseason, so we’ll see where he ends up, and his Fantasy outlook could change dramatically with a new team. We also have to see who ends up at quarterback for the Raiders, and there’s a lot to monitor with Jacobs over the next few months.

Adam, Dave and Chris have Henry at No. 6, and he had another standout season in 2022 at 19.0 PPR points per game. That’s now four seasons in a row at 19.0 PPR points per game or better, and we’ll see if he can do it again in 2023. It’s hard to bet against Henry, but he’s 29 and Father Time is coming. He also has a bad offensive line, a questionable quarterback situation and the Titans fired their offensive coordinator in Todd Downing this week. Heath and I are the most concerned about Henry, who is ranked No. 9 for both of us.

I’d prefer to gamble on the upside of Etienne over Henry, and Etienne could be a star in 2023 with the Jaguars on the rise. He only averaged 12.1 PPR points per game, but he had four games with at least 18 PPR points over his final 10 healthy outings after James Robinson was traded to the Jets. We’ll see what Jacksonville does to supplement Etienne next season, but he’s ascending on a potentially explosive team, making him someone to covet in Round 2.

The last consensus running back for all of us is Hall, and I will move him up if he’s ready for Week 1. He suffered a torn ACL in Week 7, but he was a star before getting hurt, averaging 16.4 PPR points per game. That includes scoring 13 PPR points in the game he was injured in Denver when he only had four carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. I’m hopeful his rehab goes well and we get positive reports all offseason.

Adam has Swift and Williams ranked in his top 12, and I hope Williams is ready for Week 1 coming off a torn ACL in Week 4. Prior to getting hurt, he only had one game with more than nine PPR points, but he has plenty of potential if he can return to full strength at the beginning of the season. And Swift could be a star if the Lions made him their featured running back. He had three games in 2022 with double digits in carries and scored at least 20 PPR points in all of them. Jamaal Williams is a free agent this offseason, so maybe Swift will finally have a breakout campaign in 2023.

Heath and Chris have Chubb and Cook in their top 12, and Dave has Chubb at No. 11. Chubb had another standout season in 2022 at 16.6 PPR points per game, and he might get a boost in value if Kareem Hunt leaves as a free agent. Chubb is just outside the top 12 for me. I’m more concerned about Cook, who will be 28 and just had a down season in 2022 at 14.0 PPR points per game. That’s his worst season since 2018, and it’s hard to count on him rebounding to a much higher level in 2023.

For me and Chris, we both have Pollard and Stevenson in our top 12. I have them ranked that high based on a few contingencies. With Pollard, who just averaged a career-high 15.6 PPR points per game, I’m hoping he re-signs with Dallas as a free agent and the Cowboys move on from Ezekiel Elliott. If that happens then Pollard has top-five upside in all leagues. And Stevenson could benefit in a big way if Damien Harris leaves New England as a free agent. Stevenson had a breakout season in 2022 at 14.7 PPR points per game, and he could be even better if the Patriots upgrade their offense this offseason.

The final difference for any of us is Dave with Harris at No. 8. He was a bust for the season, going from 17.7 PPR points per game in 2021 to 13.2, but he closed the year on a high note with four outings in a row with at least 14 PPR points. The biggest difference for Harris from his rookie season was his role in the passing game, which cratered, going from 74 catches on 94 targets to 41 catches on 53 targets. I’m not sure his receptions will rebound in 2023, which is why he’s outside the top 12 for me.

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