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RB3s With RB1 Potential (2024 Fantasy Football)

RB3s With RB1 Potential (2024 Fantasy Football)

More than any other position in fantasy football, running back is one of attrition. A starting running back missing no games is foundational for finishing in the top 12 at the position in scoring. Unfortunately, it’s a physically demanding position, and no one has a crystal ball for determining who will be injured.

Instead of viewing an RB1 through the lens of the RB12 in half-PPR total points for the season, the RB1 will be defined in this piece as the one who scored the 12th-most half-PPR points per game among running backs with at least 10 games played in the season in question.

Since 2020, the RB12 in half-PPR points per game has scored between 12.8 and 14.2, with an average of 13.6 and a median of 13.1. Which running backs in the RB25 through RB36 range in Underdog Fantasy average draft position (ADP) can finish 2024 with over 13.0 half-PPR points per game? Coincidentally, the running backs bookending that range stood out as intriguing candidates.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

RB3s With RB1 Potential

James Conner (ARI – RB): 84.2 Underdog Fantasy ADP/RB25

Conner had an excellent 2023 season on the overmatched but plucky Arizona Cardinals. Among 58 running backs with at least 70 rush attempts in the regular season, Conner was Pro Football Focus’s (PFF’s) fifth-ranked runner, second in yards after contact per attempt (3.93 YCO/A), tied for sixth in yards per attempt (5.0), tied for second in missed tackles forced (60), fourth in PFF’s elusiveness metric and third in 10-plus-yard rushes (31) despite missing three games.

Moreover, Conner was an efficient workhorse after Kyler Murray debuted in Week 10. From Murray’s debut through the end of the regular season, Conner ran 140 times for 676 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 2.6 yards before contact per attempt, 2.3 yards after contact per attempt, five rushing touchdowns and the most broken tackles (21). He handled 140 of Arizona’s backfield’s 173 rush attempts (80.9%).

Conner was also a useful receiver. Per PFF, he ran 130 routes versus 119 for his backfield mates in the final eight games, earning 22 targets for 19 receptions, 135 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Conner is a bell-cow in an era of backfield committees, and he parlayed his robust usage from Week 10 through Week 18 into the sixth-most half-PPR points per game (16.6) among running backs.

Arizona’s offense should be markedly better next season with a complete year of Murray and probable meaningful additions to that side of the ball, possibly starting with Marvin Harrison at the fourth pick in the first round of the NFL Draft. A high tide raises all ships in Arizona’s offense and would enhance Conner’s touchdown-scoring potential. Conner isn’t a flashy, young running back, but he’s a steal at his ADP, with the upside to finish as an RB1 in 2024.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Ty Chandler (MIN – RB): 125.5/RB36

Chandler has longer odds than Conner to finish as a top-12 running back. Yet, that’s baked into his ADP. Furthermore, while Najee Harris (85.7 ADP and RB26), Raheem Mostert (90.3 and RB27) and D’Andre Swift (99.5 and RB31) probably have slightly better odds than Chandler to finish as an RB1, the gap in ADP is too large, and including a second RB3 with a top-100 pick isn’t fun for this exercise.

Instead, Chandler is an intriguing choice. He overtook Alexander Mattison on the depth chart by the end of the season. After Minnesota’s bye in Week 13, Chandler had backfield-high snap shares of 56%, 81%, 65%, 57% and 53%. Mattison had snap shares of 32%, 0% (injured), 9%, 40% and 32% in that stretch. When Mattison was healthy in Week 14 and Week 16 through Week 18, Chandler had 42 of the backfield’s 66 rush attempts (63.6%) and ran 59 routes compared to 59 combined for Mattison and fullback C.J. Ham.

In the final five games of the season, Chandler had 10.9 half-PPR points per game. That would fall short of the benchmark of approximately 13.0 for an RB1. Yet, Chandler was saddled by dreadful quarterbacks. Nick Mullens (115 pass attempts), Joshua Dobbs (23) and Jaren Hall (10) were the signal-callers for the Vikings. A reunion with Kirk Cousins would be ideal for Minnesota’s offensive outlook, including Chandler.

According to Over The Cap, the Vikings are in the middle of the pack with $19.5 million in effective cap space. Still, Cousins would eat that up if they brought him back, leaving Minnesota without the luxury to add a substantial upgrade to Chandler in the backfield. The Vikings could add a running back in the NFL Draft.

Still, Chandler wasn’t inept. As Minnesota’s lead back in the last five games of the regular season, he had 294 rushing yards (58.8 per game), 4.5 yards per carry, two rushing touchdowns, 11 receptions (2.2 per game) and 76 receiving yards (15.2 per game). Chandler’s not a game-changing talent, but he’s an adequate running back and could lead the charge in Minnesota’s backfield in 2024. Finally, Chandler’s ADP is appropriate for a handcuff even if the club adds a running back in the draft. Conversely, it’s entirely too low if Chandler is the team’s starting running back, making now the time to buy the young running back.

Early 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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