2023 Free Agent Rankings: Running Backs

Rankings the top ball carriers of the 2023 NFL free agent class

Saquon Barkley
File-New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

As you know, there is no real off-season for fantasy football fanatics. While the NFL playoffs are still in progress, it’s never a bad idea to be prepared for the next season. FullTime Fantasy‘s 2023 Free Agent Rankings: Running Backs previews the top veteran rushers available this spring.

There are some stud backs available on the open market. Also, the rise in salary cap should help a handful of these RBs secure lucrative long-term deals.

Also, check out our 2023 free-agent QB rankings.

Three-Down Studs

PLAYER TEAM AGE YDS TD REC YDS REC TD
Josh Jacobs LVR 25 1653 12 400 0
Saquon Barkley NYG 26 1312 10 338 0
Tony Pollard DAL 26 1007 9 371 3
David Montgomery CHI 26 801 5 316 1

The Raiders declined to extend Josh Jacobs last season. As a result, Jacobs is now set to cash in big time after leading the league with 1,653 rushing yards. Jacobs showed feature-back skills, also. He set a career-best mark of 400 receiving yards and a dozen scores. Expect Jacobs to attract plenty of attention, perhaps commanding north of $50 million over 4 years.

Similar to Jacobs, Saquon Barkley‘s fifth-year option was declined and Barkley finally stayed healthy. The fifth-year veteran rusher posted a career-high 1,312 rushing yards and topped 50 receptions for the third time. New York is fresh off a Wild-Card playoff spot. However, both Barkley and QB Daniel Jones are unrestricted free agents. Of the two, Barkley is more likely to be franchise tagged. But, if he is able to test the market, Barkley could earn between $12 and $15 million annually.

The Cowboys are in a difficult predicament. Tony Pollard was the team’s best running back all season. However, the club still owes Ezekiel Elliott over $50 million guaranteed. Elliott is a declining player while Pollard displayed top-5 upside and explosiveness. Elliott has reportedly been open to a restricted deal. That may be the only way Pollard could return to Big D. Should Pollard hit the open market, he’ll have no shortage of suitors as a potential top-tier starter.

David Montgomery had the fewest rushing attempts of his career despite playing 16 games. With Khalil Herbert in the fold, Montgomery might be allowed to test the market. The 25-year-old veteran is a dependable receiver and has a 1,000-yard rushing campaign on his resume.

Solid Contributors

PLAYER TEAM AGE YDS TD REC YDS REC TD
Miles Sanders PHI 26 1269 11 78 0
Jamaal Williams DET 28 1066 17 73 0
Damien Harris NE 26 462 3 97 0
Devin Singletary BUF 26 819 5 280 1
Alexander Mattison MIN 25 283 5 91 1
Kareem Hunt CLE 28 455 3 195 1
D’Onta Foreman CAR 27 914 3 26 0
Rashaad Penny SEA 27 346 2 16 0
Samaje Perine CIN 28 394 2 287 4
Jerick McKinnon KC 31 291 1 512 9

A year after (in)famously being shut out of the end zone, Miles Sanders punched in 11 scores and posted a career-high 1,263 rushing yards. Although Sanders snagged 50 balls as a rookie, the Eagles haven’t involved him much as a receiver since. That could impact his ability to attract a deal with the top tier of available rushers.

Jamaal Williams was one of the best fantasy values from 2022. Williams led the NFL with 17 touchdowns and also surpassed 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career. Williams should be able to parlay that into a decent raise in 2023. However, he most likely finds himself in another timeshare with the Lions or elsewhere.

Alexander Mattison has always attracted fantasy attention as the direct handcuff to Dalvin Cook. And when given the chance to shine, Mattison has had some big outings. Now, Mattison will get the chance to see if another NFL team views him in the same light as #ZERORB drafters do. The dream fantasy scenario- re-signing with the Vikings if Cook is a cap casualty.

The surprising Christian McCaffrey trade allowed D’Onta Foreman to showcase his potential as a starter. Foreman posted five games with 100-plus rushing yards. In all, the fifth-year pro ran for 914 yards despite having just 12 carries in Carolina’s first six games. Foreman will draw interest from multiple teams but a return to the Panthers would make him an excellent late-round fantasy value.

Be cautious with Jerick McKinnon. The aging back easily had his best numbers as a cleverly-deployed red-zone outlet. But, any other destination than a return to Kansas City would be a huge step back.

Change-of-Pace Options

PLAYER TEAM AGE YDS TD REC YDS REC TD
Jeff Wilson MIA 28 860 5 185 1
Raheem Mostert MIA 31 820 3 212 2
Kenyan Drake BAL 29 482 4 89 1
Ronald Jones KC 26 70 1 22 0
Matt Breida NYG 28 220 1 118 0
Dontrelle Hilliard TEN 28 145 0 177 4
Darrel Williams ARZ 28 102 1 9 0
Boston Scott PHI 28 217 3 15 0
Justin Jackson DET 27 170 1 101 1
Justice Hill BAL 26 262 0 58 0

The Dolphins used both of their veteran packs interchangeably. Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert should have no trouble finding work. However, neither back will draw interest as a lead dog. With ties to San Francisco, keep an eye on the Texans as potential fits for both veteran ball carriers.

Darrel Williams was limited to just six games in 2022. However, he looked solid in the only contest in which he got double-digit touches. He’ll draw interest as a dependable veteran change-of-pace option. Depending on where he lands, Williams offers some late-round interest as an insurance policy.

Boston Scott has averaged over 4 yards per carry in each of his four seasons as Philly’s RB2/3. Scott also has shown a solid nose for the end zone and was solid as a receiver in his first two campaigns.

Best of the Rest

PLAYER TEAM AGE YDS TD REC YDS REC TD
Ty Johnson NYJ 26 148 1 75 0
Benny Snell PIT 25 90 1 17 0
Marlon Mack DEN 27 84 1 99 1
Royce Freeman HOU 27 102 0 31 0
D’Ernest Johnson CLE 27 17 0 7 0
Mike Boone DEN 28 102 0 96 0
Latavius Murray DEN 33 760 6 132 0
Myles Gaskin MIA 26 26 0 28 0
Travis Homer SEA 25 74 0 157 1
Trayveon Williams CIN 26 30 0 30 0
Ameer Abdullah LVR 30 20 0 211 1
Malcolm Brown LAR 30 81 1 37 0
Jonathan Williams WAS 29 152 0 40 0
David Johnson NO 31 24 0 47 0
Giovani Bernard TB 32 28 0 -1 0
Rex Burkhead HOU 33 80 1 203 1
Mark Ingram NO 34 233 1 68 0
Taiwan Jones BUF 35 0 0 0 0

Some of these veteran backs will land jobs as depth but their days of being fantasy relevant are in the past. These running backs should only be targeted in the deepest of leagues.


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About Jody Smith 477 Articles
With over a decade of winning experience, Jody is a well-known fixture in the fantasy football community. He was named Fantasy Pros’ **Most Accurate Ranker** previously and was the site’s Top NFL over/under totals picker with a record 65% accuracy in 2020, while also ranking 5th in the country with a 55% against-the-spread hit rate. Jody has written for many sites over the years including Pro Football Focus, FantasyPros, CBS Sportsline, FantasyData, and is a regular contributor to the Fantasy Index magazine expert’s poll, draft, and auction. Jody’s experience ranking and projecting player performance will help prepare the Fulltime Fam for their big draft days as well as answers they can trust on Sunday for those ever crucial Who Do I Start questions.