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Fantasy Football: Breakout running backs for 2023

2GMKR58 Jacksonville, FL, USA. 19th Sep, 2021. Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams (33) runs with the ball during 2nd half NFL football game between the DenverBroncos and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Denver defeated Jacksonville 23-13 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fl. Romeo T Guzman/CSM/Alamy Live News

  • 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.
  • Javonte Williams should be excellent if healthy: His new head coach Sean Payton has a history of top-five fantasy running backs. Williams should get there eventually, but his health is the big question.
  • One back from the 2022 draft class: Several running backs from the 2022 class have earned starting jobs, but one, in particular, could have a huge season in 2023 after a quieter 2022.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

These breakout players are those who have an ADP between 48 and 120  on ESPN who I have ranked notably higher than their ADP, and they have a good chance of producing the best season of their career. 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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Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, August 8

Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: 77.9, From ESPN)

Akers is the Rams' unquestioned starter for the first time in his career

  • Akers made a name for himself late in his rookie season, posting a 171-yard rushing game in the regular season and a 131-yard rushing performance in a playoff win.
  • He tore his Achilles in the summer of 2021 but returned for the end of the regular season and played a limited role in the playoffs.
  • Akers and the Rams weren’t on the same page to start the 2022 season, leading to him barely playing in Week 1 and missing games in October.
  • He regained his starting job by December and ended the season with three straight 100-yard performances. He ended the year with six-straight games as a top-21 fantasy running back, including one game at the top spot.
  • Akers averaged a rushing touchdown in two out of every three starts, leading to 10.4 rushing fantasy points per start. Those two marks ranked eighth and ninth-most out of 45 running backs with at least five games over the last season.
  • He knows this is a big season for him as the unquestioned starter, and coach Sean McVay has acknowledged that Akers will be a central figure in the team’s offense.
  • Despite already having three years of NFL experience, he just recently turned 24 years old, so there is still a chance Akers can improve even more.

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