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Fantasy Football: Sleeper running backs for 2023

2R3G7AN Seattle Seahawks running back Zach Charbonnet (26) holds the football during drills Monday, May 22, 2023, at the team's NFL football training facility in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

• Take a chance on rookie running backs: There are plenty of running backs who could be considered sleepers, but some highly drafted backs also have low ADPs.

Rashaad Penny lands in the ideal spot: Penny has been excellent when healthy and will now be running behind the NFL's best offensive line.

Jaylen Warren is the second-year back on the rise: The Pittsburgh Steelers slowly but surely got Warren more involved in their offense last year, and they could eventually decide to give their most effective back the starting role.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

These sleepers are five players with a 120-plus ADP on ESPN that I have ranked notably higher. Some of these players will have a top-120 ADP at other sources where a higher percentage of users are experts, but a variety of players were picked so at least some players could be considered a sleeper at any site.

Rankings: PPR | Half-PPR | Best Ball

Dynasty Rankings: PPR | Superflex | Rookie | Superflex Rookie

Position Rankings: QB | RB

Sleepers: WR | TE

Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Thursday, July 13

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Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 135.3, From ESPN)

Charbonnet landed with a team that loves to use running backs but also spent a second-round pick on a running back last season in Kenneth Walker III.

  • The second-round rookie has the best vision in the class and is also the class' best short-yardage back.
  • Seattle has been the home of several fantasy starters when a player has been given opportunities.
  • Walker was RB9 from Week 6 until the end of the 2022 season once he became the starter.
  • Rashaad Penny was the top running back over the last six weeks of 2021 once he began seeing significant playing time, including four games with 130 or more yards and at least one touchdown.
  • Chris Carson was a top-20 fantasy running back in each season from 2018-2020.
  • The problem is Walker and Charbonnet will likely share the workload as long as both players are healthy.
  • We could see an ugly three-man rotation to begin Charbonnet’s career, as head coach Pete Carroll mentioned DeeJay Dallas early on when discussing his new running back room.
  • This is similar to the running back rotation Seattle used to begin last season, with Penny, Walker and Dallas.
  • Charbonnet ranked higher on PFF's big board this season (50) than Walker did last season (55). There is certainly a chance Charbonnet becomes the starter at some point.
  • Charbonnet would also be a clear fantasy starter if Walker suffers an injury. Even if he never gets the starting role, there is a chance he can have stand-alone value as the backup.

Rashaad Penny, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 133.3)

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