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RB3s with RB1 Potential (2024 Fantasy Football)

RB3s with RB1 Potential (2024 Fantasy Football)

An RB3, defined in the context of pre-draft analysis, is a running back ranked in the third tier of 12 (if that’s the number of teams in your league). Below, we’ll break down the current RB3s who have the potential to break out and perform as RB1s in 2024 for fantasy football managers.

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In a 12-team league, RB3s are running backs ranked between 25-36. In 10-teamers, 21-30, etc.

I may stray from that range slightly in this piece, but that’s the general parameter.

First, let’s look at which running backs were drafted as ~RB3s last season and finished as ~RB1s.

Each of these players showcased talent. More than that, though, let’s look at the circumstances surrounding their explosions.

Two (Cook and Pacheco) took on larger roles on good teams/offenses. The other two (White and Kamara) were on near-average teams and displayed impressive pass-catching acumen.

This dichotomy is important to note when looking for diamond-in-the-rough RBs. A good offense means longer drives and more opportunities to touch the ball, especially close to the end zone.

Reliable pass-catching usually means a nice percentage of their team’s targets, which, for running backs, is as good as gold. When running backs catch a pass, there’s usually more space around them compared to when they take a carry. That space can lead to big yardage chunks and other fantasy-friendly outcomes.

Below are four players currently going in roughly the RB3 range who could become top-12 RBs next January.

We’ll use FantasyPros’ expert consensus rankings (ECR) to gauge where players are currently ranked.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

RB3s with RB1 Potential

Tyjae Spears (RB – TEN) | ECR: RB2

Tyjae Spears falls into the Rachaad White and Alvin Kamara category of potential RB1s. Nobody is expecting the Tennessee Titans to be good. However, last season in Spears’ rookie season he lined up as a receiver 83 times.

Among running backs targeted at least 20 times in 2023, Spears received the eighth-highest receiving grade, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF).

He’s plenty explosive, as well, ripping off plays such as this and this last season. Tony Pollard will throw a wrench into Spears’ initial workload but Spears finished as the 2023 RB34 on only 152 touches. The Titans would be foolish to not feed a blossoming playmaker.

Nick Chubb (RB – CLE) | ECR: RB27

Nick Chubb tore ligaments in his knee in Week 2, ending his season. He required multiple surgeries, including one as recently as November.

Before this injury, Chubb’s previous four fantasy finishes were:

  • 2022: RB8
  • 2021: RB11
  • 2020: RB13
  • 2019: RB6

By all accounts, Chubb is a professional’s professional. I wouldn’t be shocked if his recovery is squarely on the early side of whatever timetables will be reported in the coming months.

The Browns are also hinting at this by not bringing in a pricey, big-name running back and instead opting for D’Onta Foreman and Nyheim Hines in free agency.

Unless we hear damning reports about Chubb’s recovery hitting a snag or his looking less explosive, I’ll eagerly draft Chubb at his current average draft position (ADP).

Raheem Mostert (RB – MIA) | ECR: RB32

Do I normally recommend drafting a 32-year-old running back with a spotty injury history? No.

Will Mostert lead all running backs in touchdowns again next season? Based on precedent it’s highly unlikely.

Alas, here we are.

Raheem Mostert’s situation is the exception of all exceptions.

Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel loves Mostert. He coached Mostert in San Francisco from 2017-2021. What did McDaniel do when he got the Miami job? He brought in Raheem Mostert. As long as Mostert is healthy, Mostert will be on the field. From a running back perspective, I’m not sure there’s a better place to play.

Miami’s explosive receiving weapons keep defenses on their toes. McDaniel’s zone-blocking run schemes are often a thing of beauty. The efficiency at which this offense operates means there’s no shortage of near-goal-line opportunities to take a pass or carry into the endzone.

2023 rookie De’Von Achane will certainly play a bigger role next season. That’s why Mostert’s ADP is this low. However, Achane isn’t built (5-foot-9, 188 pounds) like a workhorse running back and sustained a few injuries last season.

Chase Brown (RB – CIN) | ECR: RB39

Joe Mixon is a Houston Texan, leaving the door wide open for a new RB1 behind a (hopefully) healthy Joe Burrow in 2024.

Coming into the 2023 NFL Draft, Chase Brown projected as a home run threat. We got a small taste last season as evidenced by this touchdown reception. His 4.43 40-yard dash time translates on the field.

Brown never received consistent playing time because Mixon was healthy for 17 games. He needs to improve his pass blocking to secure valuable passing-down snaps — he received a dismal 26.7 PFF grade on his eight pass-blocking assignments last season.

He’s shown explosive play potential. He’s not built like a low-volume gadget guy either, packing 215 pounds into his 5-foot-9 frame.

A healthy Joe Burrow, a winning Cincinnati Bengals team and a fair crack at a big role could be the elixir that propels Brown into RB1 territory.

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