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4 Running Back Lottery Tickets to Draft (2023 Fantasy Football)

4 Running Back Lottery Tickets to Draft (2023 Fantasy Football)

While it’s important to stay focused throughout your fantasy football draft, mining upside late is a great way to put your team over the top on its way to a championship. I’m looking for potential tier jumpers at the running back position. Here are players you should consider drafting late as lottery tickets at the running back position.

Running Backs with Upside to Draft With Your Final Picks

Here are running backs to target late in fantasy football drafts that carry upside into 2023.

Damien Harris (BUF)

The Buffalo Bills signed Damien Harris (RB42 ADP) to a one-year contract to fill the void left by Devin Singletary. Bills general manager Brandon Beane stated earlier this offseason that the team wanted to add another back with more “size” to compliment smaller running backs like James Cook and Nyheim Hines. Harris, at 216 pounds, fits the mold of the bigger back that Beane was after, so it’s not a shock to see this deal completed.

Last season, the former Patriots running back was plagued by injuries, playing in just 11 contests – two of which he left early. And in his nine healthy games, Harris averaged just 8.8 fantasy points, 11 carries, and 49 rushing yards per game. He took a major backseat to the surging Rhamondre Stevenson, who operated as the RB1 in the backfield for the majority of the season.

Now with Buffalo, Harris’ best fantasy prospects are for him to land the Bills’ red-zone back role. He scored just as many times as Stevenson from inside the ten-yard line last season (thrice) despite being out-carried in that area of the field 19 to six.

In 2022, former Bills RB Devin Singletary totaled just four rushing TDs inside the 10-yard on 16 carries. QB Josh Allen is frequently deployed as a goal-line rusher which might limit Harris’ touchdown totals in 2023. However, we have seen quarterbacks run less at the goal line as they get older, so there’s still a chance that Harris flirts with double-digit scores should his arrival mean the team leans on him more as their preferred rusher near the pylon to protect their franchise quarterback in the long term.

Jaylen Warren (PIT)

Former undrafted 2022 free agent, Jaylen Warren shined with every opportunity he got in the Steelers backfield last season. After earning the No. 2 role behind Najee Harris, Warren finished third in rushing success rate (45.5%) and second in the 2022 RB class in yards per route run behind just Breece Hall. Warren’s efficient play suggests he will continue to see snaps alongside Najee Harris. But further baked into his upside case is that should Harris miss anytime, the 215-pound Warren would inherit bell-cow duties without any other Steelers RBs behind him yearning for touches.

Kendre Miller (NO)

Kendre Miller spent his first two seasons in a two-way platoon with Zach Evans before the latter transferred to Mississippi. Miller flashed talent in limited sample size, leading the FBS in yards after contact per attempt (5.06) in 2021. But with Evans gone in 2022, Miller was thrust into the RB1 role for the Horned Frogs, where he posted a career-high 23 percent dominator rating. The bell cow rushed for nearly 1400 yards at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds (identical to Bijan Robinson), and his size is enticing in addition to the efficiency he displayed on a per-play basis at the college level. Miller’s career of 3.14 yards per play ranks fourth best in the class. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands, as indicated by his 21 rushes of 15-plus yards last year (tied for the fifth-highest in the class).

Per Sports Info Solutions, Miller also posted the 4th-lowest bust run rate (percentage of plays that resulted in EPA below -1) and finished first in his class in broken tackles per 100 touches (18).

Miller did not test at all during the pre-draft process (recovering from post-season knee surgery), but that didn’t stop the New Orleans Saints from investing a third-round pick in him during the 2023 NFL Draft. Miller is an ideal home-run hitter and 1-2 punch fit with veteran Jamaal Williams.

Chuba Hubbard (CAR)

Chuba Hubbard finished the 2022 season as PFF’s 21st-highest-graded rusher averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He also flashed efficiency in the receiving game ending the year tied for 6th in yards per route run (1.55) with Austin Ekeler. After the team traded Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers, Hubbard’s role increased from Week 7 onward as he was able to carve out a 1B role in the backfield alongside D’Onta Foreman. With a three-down skillset, Hubbard has massive fantasy football appeal as a handcuff to Miles Sanders in 2023. Hubbard also has a chance to capture the main RB receiving role in the Panthers backfield.

 

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