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Every year, there are huge changes in ADP based on where rookie RBs are drafted. Last year, De’Von Achane skyrocketed up draft boards when he was selected by the Miami Dolphins, a team with a creative run scheme and relatively wide-open depth chart. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Israel Abanikanda plummeted down draft boards because he was taken later than expected, and landed in a crowded RB room behind Breece Hall and Michael Carter in New York.

When evaluating landing spots, there are broadly three important things to consider: offensive environment, touch competition, and draft capital.

Offensive environment is a proxy for how many fantasy points we expect the overall backfield to generate, taking into account factors like implied team totals, run-to-pass splits, QB scrambling rates, and QB checkdown rates. There is some complexity here, as even super high-powered offenses, like the Philadelphia Eagles, are not particularly attractive for RBs because we expect the QB to steal a huge portion of the goal-line looks, and choose to scramble instead of checking down to RBs.

Touch competition considers how strong the existing RBs in the backfield are, including whether there’s a “wedge” for a rookie RB to earn playing time. If the RB has the ability to wedge himself onto the field for specialized looks (e.g., third down, goal line, pass protection, short yardage), he can use that to springboard into a larger role if he proves effective. Additionally, it’s important to evaluate not only how strong the starting RB is, but how deep the overall RB room is. The Denver Broncos are an example of a backfield that is not particularly strong when you look at the starter (Javonte Williams), but when you consider the depth (Jaleel McLaughlin and Samaje Perine), it’s relatively competitive for a rookie RB to find touches.

Draft capital is also an important factor to consider as a signal of the team’s intentions with a given player. A team that spends a first- or second-round pick on an RB is highly likely to view them as an immediate starter. On the other hand, if an RB gets just fourth- or fifth-round draft capital, it’s possible the team views them purely as a depth piece behind their existing rotation.

These three factors play together in a complex way that makes a linear set of rankings for RB landing spots challenging. For instance, some landing spots are extremely exciting for a Round 2-3 pick, but not exciting at all for a Round 4-5 pick, once you consider the team strength and touch competition. Take the Bengals as an example. For a RB like Jonathan Brooks in Round 2, it’s hard to imagine many better landing spots than the Bengals. A Round 2 pick would signal the Bengals view Brooks as a 1A back in their system, and that system has generated tons of fantasy points for lesser-skilled RBs like Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. On the other hand, for a potential Round 5-6 RB like Dylan Laube, the Bengals are far from an ideal landing spot. Both Chase Brown and Zack Moss block him on the depth chart, and he would be highly unlikely to see much playing time as a rookie without injury. For Laube, a landing spot like the Giants, Buccaneers, or Colts, where he’d have a much clearer path to becoming the RB2 on his team, would be a much better outcome for his fantasy value. For Brooks, however, you’d much prefer that he land on the Bengals than those other teams.

Given this complexity, I’ve opted to make these landing spot rankings for projected Round 2-4 RBs (there are no RBs projected in Round 1). Based on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, that would include all RBs from Jonathan Brooks at No. 59 to Will Shipley at No. 119 (note that these rankings are constantly shifting). Obviously, there is still a difference in how good relative landing spots are for Round 2 RBs vs. Round 4, but it is roughly similar. In other words, these rankings can be viewed as “if a random draw Round 2-4 rookie lands on Team X, how good of a landing spot is it?”

Post-draft, I will update this article with additional context based on where RBs actually land. Without further ado, here are the landing spot rankings:


Tier 1: Empty Depth Chart on Elite Offense


1. Dallas Cowboys

Round 2-4 Picks: 56, 87

Current RB Depth Chart: Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: High

After letting Tony Pollard walk in free agency, the Cowboys’ current top two RBs (Dowdle and Vaughn) have just 119 career carries over a combined five NFL seasons. This is one of the few rosters where even a Round 4-5 rookie could immediately stake his claim as the RB1 if the cards fall his way.

Bolstering the Cowboys’ case, we’ve seen fantasy RBs have massive success for Dallas under Dak Prescott‘s leadership over the past several seasons. Though Pollard had a bit of a down year in 2023, he still finished as an RB2, and we saw several top-five RB seasons from Ezekiel Elliott throughout his career. In 2024, Dallas once again sets up to be an RB-friendly fantasy environment, projecting to have one of the highest implied team totals on a team without a QB vulturing rushing scores at the goal line.

The combination of a wide-open depth chart on one of the NFL’s best offenses makes the Cowboys not only the top rookie RB landing spot, but in a tier of their own at the top. Any RB selected in Rounds 2-3 will immediately jump to the top ~75 picks in fantasy drafts. Even RBs selected on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) for the Cowboys would become intriguing later-round fantasy selections. 


Tier 2: Wide-Open Depth Chart on Run-Heavy Offense


2. Los Angeles Chargers

Round 2-4 Picks: 37, 69, 105, 110

Current RB Depth Chart: Gus Edwards, Isaiah Spiller

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Very High

The Chargers let Austin Ekeler walk to sign Gus Edwards to a deal that amounts to a 1-year contract with $3.2M guaranteed, with a team option for a second year at a similar cost. Aside from Edwards, third-year underachiever Isaiah Spiller (career 2.5 YPC on 55 carries) is the only other RB on the roster of note. While Edwards is an effective between-the-tackles grinder, there is not significant commitment to any RB on the current roster.

Enter Jim Harbaugh. The former Michigan HC has promised to build a strong run game to complement Justin Herbert, leading to speculation that the Chargers’ offense will be a run-first attack. A RB that lands in Los Angeles, particularly one with a pass-catching skill set to capitalize on checkdowns from Herbert, could immediately become a fantasy difference-maker. Over the course of his career, Edwards has proved he is incapable of taking on a large passing-down role, opening up a clear wedge for a rookie RB to see playing time.


Tier 3A: Somewhat Crowded Depth Charts on Elite Offenses


3. Kansas City Chiefs

Round 2-4 Picks: 64, 95, 131

Current RB Depth Chart: Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

In some ways, you could fairly argue that the Chiefs are too high on this list. Isiah Pacheco has performed admirably as a top-20 NFL RB through two seasons, albeit closer to RB15-20 than RB1-5. Furthermore, the Chiefs gave Clyde Edwards-Helaire $1.3M guaranteed to stick around KC, presumably as a backup.

That said, if the Chiefs decide to commit a Day 2 pick to an RB, it would signal they believe they can upgrade on the RB position. While Pacheco is serviceable, not many would argue he’s a true difference-maker at the RB position. An RB with more talent as a route runner or pass catcher, for instance, could steal work from Pacheco and emerge as the RB1 by season’s end. Furthermore, while not a foregone conclusion, beating out Edwards-Helaire for the RB2 role should prove relatively easy for a rookie RB with any talent.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a high-variance landing spot. A Round 2-3 rookie could immediately compete with Pacheco for starting duties by the end of 2024, while a Round 4-5 rookie could easily find themselves buried on the depth chart at RB3. There are certainly safer landing spots for RB prospects, but it’s hard to argue there are many with higher reachable ceilings.


4. Cincinnati Bengals

Round 2-4 Picks: 49, 80, 97, 115

Current RB Depth Chart: Zack Moss, Chase Brown

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

The Bengals’ current backfield competition is truly in the eye of the beholder. On one hand, you can claim that Zack Moss, who outperformed former teammate Jonathan Taylor across many advanced rushing metrics last year, and Chase Brown, who flashed tantalizing explosive-play ability, are significant obstacles to a rookie RB seeing playing time. On the other hand, you can argue that Moss, who was widely regarded as a Bills draft day bust prior to last season, and Brown, who slipped all the way to the fifth round and played behind Trayveon Williams for the majority of the season, are merely minor speed bumps on the road to a rookie emerging as the RB1 for the Bengals.

Ultimately, this is an extremely volatile landing spot. The Bengals have very little money committed to their current backfield, so it’s not unthinkable that they look for an RB upgrade during the draft. The question is when they do so. If they select a back in Round 2, for example, I would immediately expect that RB to surpass Moss and Brown for RB1 duties. An RB with lower draft capital, say Round 4-6, may quickly get buried as an RB3, potentially being inactive on game days.

While there is extreme volatility in the Bengals landing spot, the offensive environment creates the upside to justify this high of a ranking. Throughout his career in Cincinnati, Joe Mixon routinely ranked near the top of all RBs in expected fantasy points, thanks to plentiful scoring opportunities and tons of checkdowns from Joe Burrow. At the end of the day, the depth chart is just ambiguous enough that a talented rookie could grab the reins of this fantasy-friendly situation and never look back.


Tier 3B: Weak Depth Charts on Poor Offenses


5. Las Vegas Raiders

Round 2-4 Picks: 44, 77, 112

Current RB Depth Chart: Zamir White, Alexander Mattison

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

The Raiders’ current depth chart is one of the weakest in the league, rivaled only by the Cowboys, Chargers, Panthers, and Giants. Zamir White was admittedly impressive on a limited sample in 2023, but he has less than 140 touches across two NFL seasons, only getting significant playing time as a result of Josh Jacobs’ injury. Alexander Mattison completely flamed out in Minnesota, fumbling and bumbling his way to 3.9 YPC before being benched for Ty Chandler, and eventually released.

However, it’s difficult to get too excited about the Raiders’ offensive environment in 2024. Though the trio of Gardner Minshew, Davante Adams, and Jakobi Meyers provides some semblance of stability, this team is likely turning to a rookie QB down the stretch. Here at ETR, we project them to be one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the NFL in 2024, capping the upside for an incoming rookie RB.

Regardless, a bet on a rookie RB in Las Vegas is a bet on touches. There are few spots in the NFL where a Round 3+ RB would immediately project for a sizable chunk of the team’s RB touches. As a result, the Raiders remain a plus landing spot for a rookie RB.


6. Carolina Panthers

Round 2-4 Picks: 33, 39, 65, 101

Current RB Depth Chart: Chuba Hubbard, Miles Sanders

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

The Panthers’ offseason “plan” to sign Miles Sanders to a big contract immediately backfired, as he was soundly outproduced by former fourth-round pick Chuba Hubbard and subsequently benched midseason. After Sanders’ relegation, Hubbard performed at close to replacement level, pitifully one of the “bright spots” of the 2023 Carolina Panthers. Ultimately, this is one of the weakest depth charts, with a failed FA acquisition (Sanders) and former Day 3 pick (Hubbard) leading the charge.

While the depth chart is wide open for a potential Round 2-4 rookie RB, the offensive environment is far from appealing. Bryce Young ranked as one of the worst rookie QBs of the last decade, making it difficult to project a significant Year 2 leap for the offense. However, there is perhaps some untapped upside if the pass-catcher improvements (Diontae Johnson and likely a Round 2-3 WR) allow Bryce to thrive like he did at Alabama.

Similar to the Raiders, the Panthers are a “high-floor, low-ceiling” landing spot for a rookie RB. The immediate projectable volume on a weak depth chart will be attractive, but the weak offensive efficiency will keep the ceiling relatively capped.


7. New York Giants

Round 2-4 Picks: 47, 70, 107

Current RB Depth Chart: Devin Singletary, Eric Gray

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-Low

The Giants gave Devin Singletary what amounts to a 2-year, $9.5M guaranteed contract (~$5M per year). That puts Singletary firmly in the middle class of veteran RB contracts — a sizable, but not irreversible, commitment from the Giants. Singletary profiles as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none RB who can effectively eat up lots of touches, but lacks the traits to be a true difference-maker.

Singletary’s mediocrity combined with the complete lack of RB2 depth opens up avenues to a rookie RB earning a significant role in New York. I would expect a Round 2-4 rookie to immediately supplant Eric Gray for RB2 duties, with potential to usurp Singletary for starting duties by the end of the year if things break right. Unfortunately, the Giants’ offense projects as one of the league’s worst in terms of offensive scoring.

Overall, I find the Giants landing spot solid if unsexy: immediate paths to the RB2 spot with solid odds for a starting role, but in an unappealing offense.


Tier 4: Clear RB2 Roles on Exciting Offenses


In Tier 4, we are getting into territory where I wouldn’t expect any rookie RB to overtake the current starter as the RB1. While it’s not impossible, the current starters are fairly solidified atop the depth charts, either due to draft capital, performance, or committed money. However, each of the Tier 4 teams have two things that make them attractive landing spots. First, they are each projected to be high-scoring NFL offenses with strong quarterback play. Second, their RB2 spots are completely wide open due to lack of commitment or severe underperformance.

For any rookie RB landing in these spots, the thesis is more or less the same. The rookie should, in all likelihood, fairly easily win the RB2 role. Then, if the starter unfortunately gets injured or significantly underperforms, then the rookie would be in line for huge fantasy upside. In best ball particularly, drafting clear-cut RB2s in the later rounds is a critical component to success.

Some quick notes on each of these teams:


8. Arizona Cardinals

Round 2-4 Picks: 35, 66, 71, 90, 104

Current RB Depth Chart: James Conner, Michael Carter

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-High

James Conner was incredible by most advanced metrics last year, but he will be 29 when the season starts, prompting “age cliff” concerns…after being discarded by the Jets, Michael Carter was sparingly used in 2023…Kyler Murray’s scrambling tendencies and inefficient passing the past two years pose some question marks for the Cardinals’ offense, but the ceiling is certainly there.


9. Houston Texans

Round 2-4 Picks: 42, 59, 86, 123, 127

Current RB Depth Chart: Joe Mixon, Dameon Pierce

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

Joe Mixon is frustratingly inefficient for fantasy purposes, but coaches and NFL GMs truly value his do-it-all skill set, evidenced by the $13M in guarantees he received from the Texans…Dameon Pierce flopped majorly in a starting role last year, and was competing for RB2 duties with Dare Ogunbowale by season’s end…if it clicks, the Texans’ offensive attack could be the most potent in the NFL, leading to tons of scoring opportunities for an RB that can capitalize at the goal line and catch wide-open checkdowns from C.J. Stroud.


10. Jacksonville Jaguars

Round 2-4 Picks: 48, 96, 114, 116

Current RB Depth Chart: Travis Etienne, Tank Bigsby

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

The Jaguars have made public their intent to add a complement to Travis Etienne, a former first-round pick who has been effective but not truly difference-making over the course of his NFL career…Tank Bigsby turned almost all of his rookie-year touches into fumbles or drops, clearing the way for anyone with a pulse to earn RB2 duties…despite the negative media attention, the Jaguars still project to be a top-15 NFL offense in terms of scoring.


11. Buffalo Bills

Round 2-4 Picks: 60, 128, 133

Current RB Depth Chart: James Cook, Ty Johnson

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-Low

James Cook is one of the most explosive RBs in the NFL, but at 190 pounds, the Bills have continuously sought to find a bruiser-back complement for short yardage and pass protection…Ty Johnson beat out Latavius Murray (currently a FA) for RB2 duties by the NFL playoffs, and is back on the Bills with just ~$700K in guaranteed money…Josh Allen will vulture goal-line TDs, but the Bills’ offense still remains a high-scoring one that we want pieces of in fantasy — maybe someday they will attempt to limit Allen’s rushing to preserve his health, but I don’t think that happens in 2024.


12. Los Angeles Rams 

Round 2-4 Picks: 52, 83, 89

Current RB Depth Chart: Kyren Williams, Ronnie Rivers

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

Sean McVay’s history of preferring a workhorse RB continued in 2023 with Kyren Williams, who handled all of the touches in an efficient manner…when healthy, McVay trusted Ronnie Rivers with RB2 duties, but he has just ~50 career NFL touches…Williams’ lack of draft capital and true difference-making traits leave the door slightly ajar for a rookie RB with pedigree to steal the starting job…QB Matthew Stafford should lead a fantasy-friendly environment for RBs, with plenty of checkdowns and red-zone opportunities so long as he remains healthy.


Tier 4: Slightly Ambiguous Depth Charts on Middling Offenses


13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Round 2-4 Picks: 57, 89, 92, 125

Current RB Depth Chart: Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

If there is a wedge in Tampa Bay for a rookie RB to earn immediate playing time, it’s in early-down rushing and short yardage. While Rachaad White was a valuable fantasy asset last year due to his receiving (64 receptions for 549 yards), he was extremely inefficient as a rusher for the second year in a row. He ranked sixth worst amongst 49 qualifying backs in rush yards over expected per attempt, after ranking eighth worst as a rookie. The Buccaneers’ complete lack of depth behind White (Chase Edmonds and Sean Tucker) increases the odds of a rookie RB immediately finding a role in Tampa Bay.

If the offensive environment were slightly better, I would be comfortable bumping up this landing spot into Tier 4. Unfortunately, despite Baker’s strong performance in 2023, it’s very possible he regresses closer to his career average in efficiency. The Buccaneers should be fine in 2024, but I’m not expecting them to be a top-10 NFL scoring offense (they were 18th in 2023).

A rookie RB entering Tampa Bay finds himself in a league-average offense on a depth chart where the RB1 has a clear flaw: rushing the football. This is an underrated landing spot for a rookie RB.


14. New Orleans Saints

Round 2-4 Picks: 45

Current RB Depth Chart: Alvin Kamara, Kendre Miller

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Very Low

I’ll be quick here, because the odds of the Saints investing in an RB are very low. After spending on Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Williams, while drafting Kendre Miller on Day 2, it would be completely illogical for the Saints to spend their only (!) Round 2-4 pick, pick 45, on an RB.

If they did, I think the landing spot is fine. Derek Carr should lead a fine offense. The existing RB room is crowded, but lacks top-end talent. Kamara and Williams are quickly aging out of the NFL, while Miller wasn’t trusted to see the field as a rookie.

It’s not going to happen, but if the Saints do somehow use a Round 2-4 pick on an RB, it’s a fine landing spot.


15. Cleveland Browns 

Round 2-4 Picks: 54, 85

Current RB Depth Chart: Nick Chubb, Jerome Ford

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

Your view on the RB touch competition in the Browns’ backfield hinges almost entirely on how well you think Nick Chubb can return from a scary, double-surgery, multi-ligament ACL tear. By restructuring his contract, the Browns are offering up mixed signals about their own belief in Chubb’s recovery. On the one hand, making Chubb take a pay cut signals they don’t believe he’ll return to the player he was pre-injury. On the other hand, they could have outright released Chubb, and chose not to, indicating there’s some hope he can eventually make a full recovery.

Overall, I’m skeptical on Chubb’s outlook, but I do believe he will be a factor in the offense by the end of the season. Additionally, both Jerome Ford and D’Onta Foreman, solid depth RBs, are around to compete for touches if Chubb isn’t available to start the year. For a rookie RB to succeed, you need Chubb to fail to return to form, and for the rookie to outcompete both Ford and Foreman.

Ultimately, while I think it’s extremely unlikely the Browns allocate Round 2-4 draft capital to an RB, it would be an okay landing spot if they did given the lack of high-end RB talent on the current roster, and the likely high-volume rushing attack. Our ETR projections view Cleveland as one of the run-heaviest teams in the NFL in 2024.


Tier 5: Slightly Ambiguous Depth Charts on Bad Offenses


16. Denver Broncos

Round 2-4 Picks: 76, 121

Current RB Depth Chart: Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin 

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

With all the needs on the Broncos’ roster, it feels extremely unlikely they’d invest one of their two Day 2 picks on an RB. If they did, however, I think it would be a fine landing spot. While their RB room is deep (Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin, and Samaje Perine), none of them have proven to be effective high-volume backs at the NFL level. While Williams could improve in Year 2 post-ACL surgery, he was an inefficient rusher in 2023, finishing 41st out of 49 qualifying backs in rush yards over expected per attempt.

Denver’s offense projects to be one of the lowest-scoring units in the league. The only positive note is that throughout his career, Sean Payton has consistently schemed up RBs in the passing game (e.g., Alvin Kamara). I expect the Broncos’ offense to be far from potent, but perhaps one that could have surprisingly good fantasy production for RBs.


17. Minnesota Vikings

Round 2-4 Picks: 108, 129

Current RB Depth Chart: Aaron Jones, Ty Chandler

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

First off, it’s worth noting the odds of the Vikings drafting an RB in Rounds 2-4 are very low. The Vikings have just two picks in Rounds 2-4 and are a prime trade-up candidate, meaning, when it’s all said and done, they may have even fewer picks.

The RB touch competition in Minnesota is fairly strong, but not insurmountable. Aaron Jones showed he still has it when healthy, but he will turn 30 in December. Ty Chandler was solid on limited touches in 2023 but is a largely unproven, former Day 3 pick. If the Vikings somehow maneuver the draft to make a surprise Round 2-3 selection at RB, I think the rookie would have a solid opportunity to earn a 1A/1B role, particularly if Jones’ age-based decline in health or performance accelerates.

The outlook for an RB is worsened by Minnesota’s offensive environment. The QB, whether it’s Sam Darnold or a rookie, may struggle to keep the offense on track. Overall, Minnesota is far more likely to be bottom 10 in scoring than top 10. As a result, I’m not overly excited about the Vikings landing spot for a rookie RB.


18. Washington Commanders

Round 2-4 Picks: 36, 40, 67, 78, 100

Current RB Depth Chart: Austin Ekeler, Brian Robinson

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-Low

The Commanders have two solid RBs atop their depth chart, though neither are insurmountable obstacles to a rookie RB seeing playing time. Austin Ekeler regressed massively in 2023, likely at least in part due to a high ankle sprain. Entering his age-29 season, it’s possible Ekeler fails to regain his early-career form despite his clear strengths as a pass catcher. Brian Robinson flashes as an underrated do-it-all RB by both rushing and receiving metrics, but he has not been trusted to run a high volume of routes early in his career.

In terms of offensive environment, the Commanders project to be one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL in 2024. If Jayden Daniels, who is widely mocked to the Commanders at pick 2, becomes the starting QB, the offense could fail to generate many scoring opportunities for RBs. A low-scoring offense with a QB that scrambles and vultures goal-line TDs is a recipe for disaster for RB fantasy scoring.

Overall, the Commanders’ depth chart is weak enough that I’m not overly panicking if a Round 2-3 RB lands here. However, the lack of upside in the offensive environment would lead me to be somewhat bearish on the odds of the rookie becoming a true difference-maker in fantasy.


19. New England Patriots

Round 2-4 Picks: 34, 68, 103

Current RB Depth Chart: Rhamondre Stevenson, Antonio Gibson

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

On a relative basis, the Patriots’ RB room is a strength, which says more about the overall weakness of their roster than the overwhelming talent of their RB room. Rhamondre Stevenson flashed exciting workhorse potential as a Year 2 back, but regressed in Year 3 as the Patriots’ offense collapsed. Antonio Gibson is best served in a specialized pass-catching role, but he has the size to run between the tackles if necessary. The Patriots have not made big monetary or draft capital commitments to either player, so it wouldn’t be impossible for them to be relegated by a Round 2-3 rookie.

New England’s offensive environment, however, is likely to be a disaster. When the season starts, Vegas will consistently project them to have one of the lowest team totals on the slate, until their rookie QB (Drake Maye? Jayden Daniels?) proves them wrong. The one saving grace is that the lack of WR talent could result in numerous checkdowns for the starting RB.

Overall, the Patriots’ backfield is somewhat crowded on an offense that should project to be one of the lowest-scoring units in the league. It will be hard for me to get overly excited about an RB landing in New England.


Tier 6: Handcuffs for Workhorses in Plus Fantasy Situations


The difference between Tier 6 and Tier 4 (“Clear RB2 Roles on Exciting Offenses”) is that Tier 6 backfields have clear projectable workhorse backs, whereas Tier 4 backfields have just starting backs. Additionally, I’d argue that the Tier 6 backfields have slightly more competition for the RB2 role with relatively entrenched veterans (A.J. Dillon and Elijah Mitchell) and exciting rookies (Israel Abanikanda).


20. Green Bay Packers

Round 2-4 Picks: 41, 58, 88, 91, 126

Current RB Depth Chart: Josh Jacobs, A.J. Dillon 

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

The offensive environment in Green Bay is undeniably good. Assuming Jordan Love can continue to build off his stellar end to the 2023 season, it’s easy to project the Packers to be a top-12 NFL team in offensive scoring. Furthermore, Love, while mobile, isn’t a massive threat in the rushing game, meaning the RBs should handle most of the goal-line work and receive checkdowns in the passing game. 92% of Green Bay’s dropbacks ended in a pass attempt last year, the third-highest rate in the league behind only the Saints and Lions.

The touch competition, however, is quite crowded. Josh Jacobs’ contract, and the decision to cut Jones to pay Jacobs even more, suggests he should have near-workhorse usage when healthy. Additionally, A.J. Dillon is likely to be back on a team-friendly deal — though if the Packers find an upgrade in the draft, he could be released with just ~$150K in dead cap.

If the Packers have a rookie RB high on their board on Day 2, it’s possible they pull the trigger. Jacobs’ contract is more or less a 1-year deal with several team options beyond 2024, meaning their eyes could be looking toward the future. Still, for 2024, it’s highly unlikely a rookie RB can unseat Jacobs, and they may have challenges supplanting existing depth (Dillon and Emanuel Wilson). As a result, the Packers landing spot is pretty clearly a negative one, albeit with some outs if the rookie is talented enough.


21. New York Jets

Round 2-4 Picks: 72, 111, 134

Current RB Depth Chart: Breece Hall, Israel Abanikanda

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-Low

In an unspeakably bad, Zach Wilson-induced environment, Breece Hall absolutely dominated down the fantasy stretch run, proving he belongs in a tier of two with Christian McCaffrey as the most talented all-around RBs in the NFL. As a result, it’s nearly impossible that any rookie RB could pass Breece, but RB2 duties are up for grabs. The lightly-used Israel Abanikanda has exciting athletic measurables, but he is largely a black box after receiving just 29 touches during his rookie season.

The Jets’ offensive environment hinges on the left Achilles tendon of Aaron Rodgers. The general consensus is that Rodgers should be okay on his return to the NFL field. If that holds true, the Jets’ offense should support lots of fantasy scoring for RBs, as Rodgers is effective at avoiding sacks, meaning more checkdowns, and he does not pose any threat as a goal-line vulture.

A rookie RB landing on the Jets has the potential to become a trendy handcuff pick in the later rounds of best ball drafts, assuming they can beat out Abanikanda. While it’s a pure contingent play, it could be a relatively exciting one given the theoretical strength of the Jets’ offense under Rodgers.


22. San Francisco 49ers

Round 2-4 Picks: 63, 94, 124, 132, 135

Current RB Depth Chart: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-High

Similar to the Jets, the 49ers are a pure handcuff play for a potential rookie RB. I won’t insult the reader by explaining how good Christian McCaffrey is, or how efficient the 49ers’ rushing offense will likely be.

The true question for a rookie RB landing with the 49ers is the team’s commitment to Elijah Mitchell. While the team embraced Mitchell as a rookie, when he earned the starting role and became a zero RB cult hero, the results have been mixed ever since. He continuously struggled to stay on the field, leading the team to at times relegate him to RB3 duties behind Jordan Mason, though Mitchell eventually regained RB2 duties.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the 49ers, frustrated with Mitchell’s inconsistent availability, decide to draft an RB with one of their five picks in Rounds 2-4. From that point, it would be a fascinating camp battle to watch between the rookie, Mitchell, and Mason. Whoever wins that battle would become one of the most valuable handcuff assets in fantasy football.


Tier 7: Handcuffs for Workhorses in Questionable Fantasy Situations


What relegates Tier 7 teams below that of Tier 6 is the presence of an elite scrambling and goal-line threat at QB. This, in effect, limits RB scoring through reduced checkdowns (the QB scrambles instead) and goal-line opportunities (Saquon Barkley, get ready to learn the tush-push, buddy). Still, the RB2 roles are relatively up for grabs for these teams, preventing them from being truly bottom-tier landing spots.

Below, I provided some quick-hit thoughts on these teams, acknowledging their environments are relatively similar:


23. Indianapolis Colts

Round 2-4 Picks: 46, 82, 117

Current RB Depth Chart: Jonathan Taylor, Evan Hull

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium

Jonathan Taylor surprisingly served in a committee with Zack Moss in 2023, but I expect him to return to a near-workhorse role after a healthy, non-holdout offseason…the Colts might have the least RB2 depth in the NFL, with just Trey Sermon and Evan Hull around to “compete” for touches.


24. Philadelphia Eagles

Round 2-4 Picks: 50, 53, 120

Current RB Depth Chart: Saquon Barkley, Kenneth Gainwell

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-Low

Given Saquon Barkley’s contract, it would be relatively shocking if he wasn’t used as a workhorse back…the Eagles love Kenneth Gainwell, but it’s hard to find a rushing stat that doesn’t show him as one of the worst rushers in the NFL (58th of 59 qualifying rushers in PFF run grade, ahead of only Dalvin Cook in 2024)…Boston Scott is now a free agent, meaning I think it’s somewhat likely the Eagles add RB depth in the draft — I just think it’s more likely to be in Rounds 5-7 than Rounds 2-4 given their spending on Barkley.


25. Baltimore Ravens

Round 2-4 Picks: 62, 93, 113, 130

Current RB Depth Chart: Derrick Henry, Keaton Mitchell

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Medium-Low

Derrick Henry, for seemingly the 10th year in a row (don’t fact-check me), led the NFL in rushing attempts with 280 — I expect him to have a huge share of the RB rushing attempts in Baltimore…Keaton Mitchell (coming off a torn ACL) and Justice Hill are the complement “lightning” backs to Henry’s “thunder”, but neither are guaranteed RB2 roles due to health (Mitchell) and lack of performance (Hill)…compared to Jalen Hurts and Anthony Richardson, Lamar Jackson doesn’t steal as many goal-line rushing attempts given his more slender size. Still, the lack of receptions has historically been a fantasy problem for RBs playing with Lamar.


Tier 8: Get Ready to Learn RB3, Buddy


In Tier 8, we are dealing with teams that not only have entrenched starters, but fairly clear-cut RB2s that have proven themselves at a high level in the NFL. Any rookie RB that lands in these situations will struggle to earn playing time even as an RB2, and they have almost no shot to assume RB1 duties.

Some quick notes on the RB depth and team environment for the Tier 8 teams:


26. Chicago Bears

Round 2-4 Picks: 75, 122

Current RB Depth Chart: D’Andre Swift, Roschon Johnson 

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Very Low

Compared to other teams in this tier, the Bears’ starting RB (D’Andre Swift) is relatively weak, but the Bears just gave him $14M guaranteed, signaling they trust him as a starter…Roschon Johnson and Khalil Herbert are overqualified RB2/3s…Travis Homer exists…Caleb Williams creates ceiling for the offensive environment, but this situation is just far too crowded for any rookie RB to see the field significantly.


27. Atlanta Falcons

Round 2-4 Picks: 43, 74, 79, 109

Current RB Depth Chart: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

Bijan Robinson should be used as a workhorse with McVay disciple Zac Robinson at OC, despite frustratingly light usage in 2023…Tyler Allgeier remains one of the most talented backup RBs in the NFL given what he showed on tape his rookie season…Kirk Cousins should provide a plus offensive environment, but a rookie RB is very likely to be the RB3 at best.


28. Miami Dolphins

Round 2-4 Picks: 55

Current RB Depth Chart: De’Von Achane, Raheem Mostert

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Very Low

I would be more interested in a rookie RB3 on Miami than most teams, since De’Von Achane (small) and Raheem Mostert (old) present unique injury risks…trusted veterans Jeff Wilson Jr., Salvon Ahmed, and Chris Brooks are still lurking around as RB depth, however, making a rookie RB’s task of making the game-day roster uniquely challenging.


29. Tennessee Titans

Round 2-4 Picks: 38, 106

Current RB Depth Chart: Tony Pollard, Tyjae Spears 

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Very Low

After committing $10.5M guaranteed to Tony Pollard and spending a Day 2 pick on the explosive Tyjae Spears, there is almost no room for a rookie RB to get touches in Tennessee…Will Levis is a huge question mark at QB, introducing uncertainty about the overall scoring environment.


30. Seattle Seahawks

Round 2-4 Picks: 81, 102, 118

Current RB Depth Chart: Kenneth Walker, Zach Charbonnet

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

Admittedly, it would be a “funny bit” if the Seahawks continued to draft RBs in Round 2, but I think it finally stops in 2024..the pairing of Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet is talented enough that it would be really hard for a rookie RB to carve a niche in the offense in 2024.


31. Detroit Lions

Round 2-4 Picks: 61, 73

Current RB Depth Chart: Jahmyr Gibbs, David Montgomery 

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Very Low

Aside from perhaps Achane and Mostert, Gibbs and Montgomery are the best RB duo in the NFL with complementary skill sets…the RB3 in Detroit, the best-case scenario for a rookie RB, is someone worth monitoring on the waiver wire, but they’re not worth drafting in most redraft or best ball leagues.


32. Pittsburgh Steelers

Round 2-4 Picks: 51, 84, 98, 119

Current RB Depth Chart: Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren

Odds of taking an RB in Rounds 2-4: Low

Najee Harris has his haters, but he’s a capable NFL RB with high draft capital and the ability to absorb a huge amount of touches…Jaylen Warren has flashed elite efficiency numbers as perhaps the most overqualified RB2 in the NFL…a rookie RB would still have to beat out Cordarrelle Patterson for RB3 duties, who should make the roster as a special teams contributor and one of Arthur Smith’s “guys”.


Tiers Summary