2023 Best Ball Football Overrated Running Backs

by Davis Peng
2023 Best Ball Football Overrated Running Backs

Welcome to my 2023 Best Ball Football Overrated Running Backs. If you have not joined Underdog yet, what are you waiting for? Join today by using this link and you'll get your first deposit matched up to $100.

I do these segments annually and cover every Underdog Best Ball Formats position. I aim to help you avoid some players who will not hold up to their current ADP value and provide solutions in their place. This doesn't mean these players won't be "good," but I believe there are better choices from a value standpoint. You can use these for other best ball leagues such as RTSports as the rationale is the same, but the ADP data is from UD.

I draft hundreds of teams every season with high advance rates and deep finishes in all the Best Ball tournaments. If you want to follow my journey and how I view Best Ball, you can do so by checking out my profile. There will be past articles from previous seasons that hit the mark, rankings, and a beginner's guide to Best Ball.

Now that has been explained, let's start with what you are here for. I will give you some over-drafted 2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Overrated Running Backs.

2023 Best Ball Football Overrated Running Backs

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Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Underdog ADP - 40.5 (RB14)

I am having a Deja Vu moment here as I wrote about Travis Etienne last season. The article hit correctly, as I recommended other players at better ADPs who provided as many usable games or an overall better season. That being said, why am I doubling down on this against Etienne again? There are many reasons; therefore, let me paint you a picture. Etienne, to me, is a trap pick waiting to happen, and he's very much so reminiscent of Antonio Gibson.

Etienne is an efficient player who didn't get as many touches as you would expect from a first-round pick. He started the season behind James Robinson, who was coming off an ACL tear (in Week 16) the year prior. Then when Robinson was shipped off, Etienne only finished the season with four total games where he went above 20+ touches. If there were a window to show that "he's our guy," this would have been the opportune time to do that. But instead, we get up and down usage from Week 6 through Week 18. For every week Etienne got 20+, you also had a game where he was under 15 touches.

Limited Touches and Efficiency Reliance

One of the major selling points of Etienne is that he is an amazing pass-catching running back that will see many receptions from the backfield. Throughout the season, there are 0 games where Etienne has more than three receptions and only two total games with more than three targets. Let's put together that we have a running back who isn't consistently accumulating many rushing attempts and not getting receptions. You are now relying on Etienne to be efficient on limited touches.

Coaching Historical Trends

Last but not least, if we go through Doug Pederson's Head Coach history, he has only had one running back ever to break 1,000 rushing yards which is Etienne in 2022. A lot of this came down to Etienne having the role to himself and the overall weapons on the team to be fairly limited. If Robinson weren't injured/traded away, he would have hindered Etienne's upside, as the season did start that way.

Pederson's coaching history from 2015 to 2020 has shown that he prefers to do running back committees. Etienne situation is reminiscent of Antonio Gibson's a few years ago. A plausible three-down back that will be hindered by coaching staff philosophy. Throw in that they used their third-round pick on Tank Bigsby and added wide receiver Calvin Ridley to the team. I find that Etienne will have less opportunity on his already questionable usage.

Alternatives to Etienne

What are the alternatives here if I am telling you to avoid Etienne?

Overall I think Etienne is a boom/bust player, which is useful in its own right, especially in Best Ball formats. My major qualm with Etienne is he's going way too close to consistent, usable weekly players. Etienne gave us four 20+ point games but, at the same time, gave us nine games under 10 points. Therefore I recommend taking Najee Harris, who has a more consistent amount of touches, and the offense improved in favor of him.

My other alternatives are to draft a more consistent running back earlier and delve into the wide receivers in his range. Players such as Jerry Jeudy, Drake London, Terry Mclaurin, and DJ Moore. They will provide better consistency to your roster while filling the needy three WR positional spots, followed up with later-round RBs such as James Conner and Damien Harris, who I expect to provide nearly the same contribution points.

Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

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Underdog ADP - 59 (RB17)

It's taken a few years, but Aaron Jones has finally made the list of someone overbought. Jones is a player who has been relatively loved by the fantasy community and is a boom-or-bust player on a week-to-week basis. This year, in particular, will be much different as he is no longer running behind future hall-of-fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and turning 29 this year, along with playing with a new quarterback who might as well be a rookie. I can't see a situation in that Jones pays off his positional ADP of RB17.

The Aaron Rodgers Effect

Let's get the low-hanging fruit out of the way. Rodgers is a HOF quarterback that knew how to read the field. Defenses had to respect his ability to throw the ball downfield at any receiving weapon. With that being said, Rodgers had the vision and very little qualms about taking what the defense gave him and would check it down to his running backs if needed. To put it in perspective, Jones and AJ Dillion combined had 115 targets on the season. They accounted for 21% of Rodger's targets in 2022. To break the stat even further down, Dillion had nearly the same amount of targets as Etienne.

The second portion of the Rodgers effect is that defenses will likely be more inclined to stack the box against the running backs with Jordan Love under center. Aaron Jones faces the second least amount of 8-man boxes at under 11% out of the entire league. How high can this number get? Just know that teams with unproven quarterbacks/receiving options, such as the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Chicago Bears, saw 8-man boxes at 24% to 40% of the time. That is approximately 140% to 270% more often.

Lack Of Upside

Over the years, we have seen Jones concede his rushing touchdowns to Dillion, along with 200+ total touches. In the past two seasons, Jones hasn't gotten to five rushing touchdowns, and with the likely occurrence, the targets will be coming down a bit. We cannot expect Jones to retain his top three at the position for receiving touchdowns like he has the past two seasons.

Alternatives to Jones

At this point in Jones's career, along with his current situation, it would be hard press to expect league-winning upside out of Jones. You're currently paying RB17 prices for Jones, and he's likely to pay off at RB24 or below. If you want a cross-comparison who is RB24, that is David Montgomery 27 picks later. I would take nearly every RB going after Jones at their price instead of Jones at the current ADP. If you're in this predicament, grab the elite TE, such as George Kittle, who is going a few spots after. This will provide you with much more upside than Jones.

Jerick McKinnon, Kansas City Chiefs

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Underdog ADP - 127.3 (RB43)

Jerick McKinnon is one of the biggest ADP changes on the season for an older player I have ever seen. Going from round 18 of last year to round 11 now. This epitomizes buying up the board and buying at the ceiling. All I have to say to the McKinnon price is, "Why?"

Why I'm Hesitant On Buying McKinnon

This is simple for me; the overall price for McKinnon is just too high. McKinnon had one of the flukiest seasons a player could have. To put it in perspective, nine receiving touchdowns are tied for third in NFL history for running backs. Marshall Faulk was the last running back to have nine receiving touchdowns, that was in 2001. It also took Faulk 83 receptions and 33% more receiving yards to get nine touchdowns.

You may wonder if nine is a specific number. What about eight or seven? Well, you're right. When you push the numbers down, you get Austin Ekeler, who had 162 receptions in those two years, followed by Marshall Faulk in 2001. McKinnon's eight touchdowns came in on 27 receptions in the last six games of the regular season. These are tough numbers to repeat on the low volume McKinnon had.

The Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers were pretty abysmal last season, with only Mecole Hardman having more than three touchdowns. I expect this to regress positively for the wide receivers as the entire receiving corps will be in their second year with Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes. If the receivers take a step forward, the heavy reliance on McKinnon will unlikely be needed. This also doesn't account for Pacheco, who will likely lead the backfield this season.

Alternatives to McKinnon

Nearly every player is going around his current rate. Lightning is unlikely to strike twice. The only time I would consider taking McKinnon is to correlate for Week 17, but other than that, he would be a near-dead roster spot for most of the season at his current rate.

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