Fantasy Football: 7 popular running backs to consider avoiding in 2023 drafts

We asked seven analysts to reveal which big-name running back they're avoiding in drafts for the upcoming fantasy football season — answers listed in order of current Yahoo average draft position (ADP).

[7 popular wide receivers to consider avoiding in drafts]

Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers

While a foot injury can partially be blamed, Harris undoubtedly struggled last season. Planned or not, Jaylen Warren has turned this Steeler backfield into a full-blown committee during the preseason. Warren outplayed Harris as a rookie last year (he admittedly benefitted situationally), and he’s looked even better this preseason. Warren took a 60+ yarder to the house recently, while Harris managed one carry that reached 20 yards last season!

The Steelers might have a running back situation. — Dalton Del Don

Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots

To be clear, Stevenson is an excellent back, an efficient and versatile player who's definitely headed for a productive season. But we still seem to have too many fantasy managers (and various gurus) who are in denial about Ezekiel Elliott's likely role for New England.

I am begging you to recall that Stevenson, by his own admission, was dragging in the closing weeks of 2022, a campaign in which he handled 279 touches. The Patriots certainly aren't trying to build their entire running game around a single player in the season ahead. Anyone attempting to sell you on the idea that Zeke won't take a slice of the team's most valuable backfield touches — specifically goal-line carries and receiving opportunities — is simply rejecting the available reporting from camp.

Again, I'm not trying to convince you that Stevenson is undraftable, but you can't assume he's headed for 280 touches. — Andy Behrens

Breece Hall, New York Jets

Matt Harmon and Scott Pianowski on the “Yahoo Fantasy Football Show” have talked about aiming to get off to a fast start in the coming season. That’s precisely why I’m not looking to draft Hall at his current ADP of 34.3. If I’m using a third-round pick in a fantasy draft, I want that player to have a clear path to a full-time role and be fully healthy.

Since Dalvin Cook signed with the Jets, there is no clear role available to Hall. While they’re not saying it explicitly, the Jets may also be slow-playing Hall’s opening months of the season to assure that he’s completely recovered from ACL surgery that was nearly 10 months ago.

Aaron Jones has a similar ADP to Hall. D.K. Metcalf and Jahmyr Gibbs are a few slots later. Or take a shot at Lamar Jackson’s bump in a new offense. These players are even more reason I’m fading Hall. — Jorge Martin

J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

There isn’t a single running back in the league outside of J.K. Dobbins who’s missed more time and produced less but continues to hold the trust of fantasy managers. He gets breakout buzz despite having played just eight games over the past two seasons as he’s dealt with a torn ACL and complications in his recovery, including starting this preseason on the PUP list.

As if the health concerns weren't a big enough red flag, here are five more regarding the RB fantasy managers are so confidently investing RB18 draft capital in:

  • Dobbins has had 70 or more rushing yards in eight of 29 games played. For comparison, Dameon Pierce had eight in 13 games played during his rookie year.

  • In fact, Dobbins has exceeded 70 total scrimmage yards in just 11 of 29 games. Once again, for comparison, Pierce bested this mark in all but three of his games as a rookie.

  • Dobbins has exceeded three receiving targets in a game just five times.

  • Dating back to 2020, Dobbins has scored 15 or more fantasy points just six times.

  • Dobbins’ career average of 10.31 fantasy points per game ranks 33rd among all running backs in that span.

At the cost at RB18, I’d prefer multiple backs going after him, including James Conner (RB22), Alexander Mattison (RB23) and Isaiah Pacheco (RB25). — Kate Magdziuk

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

Which version of Akers am I getting heading into the season? The guy who was abysmal for the first 12 weeks of last year? Or, the league-winning talent who had an epic run to close out the 2022 season — rumbling to 86.3 fantasy points across Weeks 13-17, finishing with the fourth-highest total among RBs over that span. I recognize he’s in for a bell-cow workload with minimal competition in the backfield, but what if this team is just bad?

The Rams' offensive line ranks in the bottom five after making no substantive upgrades this offseason. Matthew Stafford is 35 years old and is coming off a down year where he endured multiple concussions, an elbow injury and a spinal contusion. Plus, the team is actively rebuilding. I may be wrong, but drafting Akers in the fifth round is not a place I want to be. — Dan Titus

Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

For a long time, Kamara had the perfect setup: Hall of Fame quarterback, dominant offensive line, genius offensive designer. All those things are gone now, and Kamara's efficiency has dropped significantly in the last two seasons. He's set to miss three games with a suspension, and when he returns, I suspect Jamaal Williams will be the hammer at the goal line, not Kamara. I recognize Kamara's summer reports have been favorable, but as he enters his seventh pro season, I can't pay the freight on his 77.6 ADP. — Scott Pianowski

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If I'm having trouble investing in proven star receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin down there in Tampa because of my overall offensive skepticism, you can bet I'm leery of their second-year running back. White had a good preseason showing, playing every snap with starting offense. He avoided any sort of major offseason competition added to the backfield. Those are feathers in his cap but also sound like volume-based trap arguments that have led us astray in the running-back dead zone before.

White didn't really distinguish himself from (a still-unsigned Leonard Fournette) last season. He didn't impress as a runner — his 0.09 forced missed tackles per attempt ranked 41st out of 42nd running backs to register 100 carries. Most of his fantasy value came as a receiver and those patterned Tom Brady dump-offs went out the door with the Hall of Fame quarterback. With the Bucs likely taking the air out of the ball and rolling out an overall dubious quarterback situation, White has been a guy that I'm passing on, especially with the receivers going in that range (84.3 ADP) being better talent-based bets. — Matt Harmon