A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. Value is available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. To point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
Our staff came up with 27 total undervalued running backs. We sifted those names down to the seven value backs we love.
Here are the players who received the most votes:
And here are all of the players mentioned and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 7 Votes
J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
Gary Davenport: Not too long ago, Dobbins was set to be a fantasy superstar, achieving over 900 total yards and an average of six yards per carry. However, an ACL tear erased his entire 2021 season, and another knee procedure led to him missing nine games the following year. Despite this, Dobbins began to resemble his impressive rookie form towards the end of the 2022 season, recording at least 90 rushing yards in three out of his last four regular-season games. If he maintains his health this year, a top-20 fantasy option seems to be his minimum, while a top-10 finish isn't out of the question.
Christian Williams: Despite hobbling throughout 2022, Dobbins managed to average over five yards per carry. In 2023, with hopes of a healthier season and while the Ravens are expected to run the ball less, Dobbins' efficiency could reach a career-high. Given his excellent receiving skills and the offensive strategy of Todd Monken, he should see a substantial workload. At RB21, managers are getting a high-value player with a possible top-ten return.
Matt Waldman: Following a second surgery in 2022, Dobbins displayed the explosive ability that made him a standout rookie. Equipped with a similar level of talent as Jonathan Taylor and arguably superior receiving skills, Dobbins could become a central feature in Todd Monken's offensive scheme. Drafted as a fantasy RB2, his floor value is a promising indicator for this year.
Kevin Coleman: Dobbins could emerge as the breakout running back that every fantasy manager seeks. His skill set aligns perfectly with new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s system, which emphasizes RPOs, zone reads, and screens. Given Monken’s history of using running backs in the passing game, Dobbins may see a significant increase in passing game usage, potentially raising his PPR ceiling.
Daniel Harms: With Todd Monken's appointment as offensive coordinator, a healthy Dobbins is poised to reap the benefits. He closed the 2022 season strong, with significant yards both on the ground and through the air. He was seventh in breakaway percentage and gained most of his yards after contact. Given Monken's offense, Dobbins may see an increase in targets as well.
Andy Hicks: Dobbins has displayed an impressive finish in the last two seasons he has played. After overcoming a devastating knee injury, he managed to maintain a high yards-per-carry rate. The talent is evident, and in 2023, we should finally see the anticipated results.
Jeff Bell: Dobbins has yet to deliver a full high-level season due to injury. However, when healthy, his potential is clear. The Ravens are expected to rely heavily on him, especially given Lamar Jackson's substantial contract extension and a possible desire to reduce his rushing. At RB21, Dobbins has a vast scope to outperform his ADP.
Player Receiving 6 Votes
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
Phil Alexander: Mixon ended 2022 as the RB6 per game. He remains with the Bengals, who are set to keep a similar offense that ranked in the top 10 last season. And with Samaje Perine's departure, Mixon's ADP doesn't accurately reflect his role as the Bengals' clear starter. He merits a top-10 spot and will likely achieve it by August. Now is the perfect time to draft him at a value.
Dan Hindery: Mixon played at least half the snaps in 13 games last season, averaging 17.7 fantasy points per game in those starts. Now with Perine in Denver, Mixon should have an even larger role in the Bengals' high-powered offense. He is a fantastic value going several rounds behind other similar talents.
Daniel Harms: The Bengals are aligning their scheme with Mixon's strengths, especially with the addition of a new gap scheme left tackle. Without Perine and having had his best receiving season, Mixon stands to see a substantial amount of volume in 2023.
Sam Wagman: It seems unlikely that the Bengals will trade or cut Mixon, which is great for his fantasy value. He achieved a career-high target share last year, and with Perine gone, his main competitor for targets has disappeared. Expect Mixon to maintain a significant role in one of the NFL's best offenses.
Ryan Weisse: Mixon remains undervalued despite a strong role in the Bengals' backfield. With just 14 games last year, he finished as a top-10 running back and also had his best year as a receiver. If he maintains this performance and sees an increase in touchdowns, he could potentially be a top-five fantasy back in 2023.
Jeff Bell: Despite a dip to RB13 in 2022, Mixon has demonstrated his potential with an overall RB3 finish in the past. The likelihood of him staying with the Bengals and being the primary option in the backfield offers great value at his current ADP and the potential for a top-five finish.
Players Receiving 5 Votes
Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
Jason Wood: At his current draft position, Akers offers excellent value. Normally, running backs at his average draft position (ADP) deliver around 1,000 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns, equating to roughly 175 fantasy points (in half PPR). Importantly, Akers displayed a stunning rate of 1,630 yards and 16 touchdowns late last season after regaining his starting position following an uncertain start. Although it's risky to project a player's peak performance across an entire year, Akers' ADP suggests he'll fall short of that pace by over 60%. Given the team's makeup, this discount seems excessive.
Dave Kluge: Similar to Najee Harris, Akers' full-season performance needs some context regarding injuries. He began the season just over a year out from an Achilles tear and seemed off his game. Through Week 9, he averaged just 9.8 carries and 30.4 rushing yards per game, never playing more than 50% of the offensive snaps in any game. After Week 10, he played more than 70% of the team's snaps in all but one game, averaging 17.3 carries and 85.3 rushing yards per game. A fit Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp should jump-start the offense in 2023, and as Sean McVay’s main back, Akers could benefit hugely.
Gary Davenport: Understandably, excitement about the Rams offense this year mostly revolves around Cooper Kupp. While Akers’ overall RB34 finish in PPR points last year was uninspiring, it's noteworthy that he was recovering from a torn Achilles, and he significantly improved towards the end of the season, exceeding 100 rushing yards in the team’s last three games. As the clear lead back, Akers makes a solid target for fantasy managers who focus on WR early.
Matt Waldman: I came away impressed with Akers after studying the film of his stretch run with an injured and subpar supporting cast. He's confident on his rehabilitated foot and ankle and has become more efficient as a decision-maker. Consequently, Akers is showcasing patience, power, and the ability to finish runs with the strength he frequently demonstrated at FSU. The Rams lack a robust distribution of offensive talent and will likely heavily rely on Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee in the passing game. They should also depend on Akers, a strong receiving option. If the Rams lean on Akers, he could finish in the top five for fantasy RBs. If they don't, watch rookie Zach Evans.
Drew Davenport: It's understandable to worry about Akers because players often struggle when returning from Achilles injuries. However, this concern may be overly affecting fantasy drafters. The Rams and Akers had a somewhat peculiar 2022 season due to an unusual in-season fallout that kept him sidelined for a while. But when he came back, he achieved PPR RB4 numbers, averaging over 18 points per game in his final five full-time games. This included almost 17 carries per game and crucial goal-line work. The Rams did little to address a weak running back depth chart, and with the return of Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford, the offensive firepower and the workhorse role make Akers a fantastic buy right now.
David Montgomery, Detroit Lions
Jason Wood: Montgomery's current average draft position (ADP) seems mistakenly undervalued across all positions, a misstep likely to be rectified during training camp and preseason. Despite the Lions' decision to use a high draft pick on Jahmyr Gibbs, they've also parted ways with both D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. Williams, who ended last year as RB13 with a remarkable 17 rushing touchdowns, had minimal involvement in the passing game. Conversely, Montgomery arrives in Detroit from Chicago with an outstanding pedigree, a considerable guaranteed contract, and a more varied skill set. Even when facing congested defensive lines, Montgomery remained a dynamic player for the Bears. With the Lions' balanced offensive strategy, Montgomery stands ready for more opportunities to display his prowess. Gibbs' potential shouldn't eclipse Montgomery's expected significant fantasy contribution.
Matt Waldman: The Lions managed a successful pairing of D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams last season. However, Detroit traded Swift due to his lack of versatility which goes against popular perception. Swift's poor decision-making between the tackles limited his usability, making the Lions' gameplay predictable to opponents. Although Williams is a versatile back with power, he lacks the top speed that teams desire in a feature back. This year, the Lions have improved their roster with Jahmyr Gibbs and arguably made a parallel move from Williams to Montgomery. Despite Gibbs being superior to Swift between the tackles, thus enabling Detroit to be less predictable, I expect Montgomery to inherit Williams' role, including red-zone opportunities behind a robust offensive line. Similar to Williams, Montgomery excels as a receiver and is likely to receive a larger share of targets than most anticipate.
Daniel Harms: The Bears possessed one of the weakest offensive lines in the NFL last season, paired with a quarterback that recorded 160 rushing attempts. Now, Montgomery joins a top-five offensive line and a quarterback, Jared Goff, who only rushed 29 times in 2022. Although Montgomery had a career-low in touchdowns, we saw how Jamaal Williams accumulated scores last season. The Lions signed Montgomery with the intent of incorporating him substantially into the offense. He’s a superior pass catcher and a more efficient runner than Williams. Expect Montgomery to recover his form in Detroit and surpass his RB27 ADP on MFL.
Drew Davenport: Last year, the Lions showcased successful rushing behind a sturdy offensive line, then decided to replace their top two running backs with a rookie and Montgomery. This switch presents a massive upgrade for Montgomery's prospects, yet his draft stock seems to be sliding. Jahmyr Gibbs will undoubtedly receive substantial touches given Detroit's investment in him, but there are plenty of opportunities available and a crucial goal-line role is up for grabs. Montgomery has the talent to seize those scoring opportunities, carve out a substantial share of the backfield, and produce comparable—if not better—numbers than his tenure with Chicago. His current ADP seems to reflect his floor, leaving room for significant upside on a robust offense.
Ryan Weisse: Montgomery's move to Detroit to replace Jamaal Williams has marked him as an underrated player. Last season, Detroit running backs accounted for 59 carries inside the 10-yard line, which significantly contributed to Williams' 17-touchdown season. This number was also 39 more carries than the Bears' running backs had last year. Although expecting Montgomery to duplicate Williams' numbers is improbable, a boost from his five touchdowns in 2022 is a reasonable expectation. Currently ranked outside the top 20, Montgomery is set to outperform predictions in 2023.
Player Receiving 4 Votes
Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders
Sigmund Bloom: Gibson has received considerable praise from head coach Ron Rivera this spring, who emphasized Gibson's "tremendous growth" and his wide receiver background. Rivera voiced the team's excitement about Gibson's potential, and Gibson himself expressed enthusiasm about the offensive strategy of new coordinator Eric Bieniemy, not just for his own role but for the team. According to Rivera, Gibson fits perfectly into Bieniemy's offensive plans, which bodes well for the dynamic player who may have been miscast as an early-down running back. If Gibson becomes a primary receiving option with more space to operate, he could significantly exceed his ADP in PPR leagues.
Christian Williams: Eric Bieniemy has a fondness for receiving backs, and Antonio Gibson is undoubtedly the best among the Commanders' ranks. Despite Gibson's inefficiency in 2022, the revitalized offense under new quarterback Sam Howell (or Jacoby Brissett) and coordinator Bieniemy is poised to rectify that. Gibson's 58 targets in 2022 placed him 13th in the NFL. Who was ahead of him? Jerick McKinnon, the Chiefs' primary passing-down back under Bieniemy's direction. Gibson might share carries with Brian Robinson, but it's plausible he'll see a target share of more than 10%. That workload alone makes him a steal at RB38.
Kevin Coleman: Prior to 2022, Gibson posted back-to-back RB12 finishes, averaging over 1,100 yards and ten touchdowns in both seasons. Unfortunately, underutilization by the coaching staff saw his role gradually diminish when Brian Robinson Jr returned. Despite this, Gibson exhibited moments of brilliance, producing two top-15 finishes last year. He remains one of the best PPR options at his current ADP. With Sam Howell—famed for his check-downs to Javonte Williams and Michael Carter in college—potentially starting at quarterback, Gibson could become that safety net. Coupled with the addition of offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who skillfully utilizes backs with elite receiving upside (see Jerick Mckinnon), Gibson could significantly outperform his current ADP.
Jeff Bell: Over the final ten games of 2022 for Kansas City, Jerick McKinnon averaged 5.4 targets per game—a full-season rate of 92. That number rose to 5.8 over the last five games, a period during which McKinnon's efficiency pushed him to RB2 overall. Now, with McKinnon's former offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in Washington and a young quarterback at the helm, Gibson should emerge as a primary receiving option. At RB38, any risk of remaining in Ron Rivera's doghouse seems mitigated.
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