Buy Low Fantasy Football – 2023 Fantasy Bounce Backs I Running Backs

by Connor Donald · Best Ball Plays & Strategy

Which running backs are buy low fantasy football candidates? These players are due for a bounce back season!

2022 Letdowns

It is time for part two of the four part series looking into bounce back candidates who let you down in 2022. This time, it is four running backs who finished with high negatives Expected Fantasy Points Per Game differentials last season. Who is looking to outperform their output from last season? Lets dive in!

Bounce Back Candidates

Jonathan Taylor

EFPG Differential: -1.6

EFPG: 14.91

2023 FantasyPros Expert Platform ranks: RB2

Let’s get the boring one out of the way first. There is no other player I expect to have a bigger bounce back than Jonathan Taylor next season. Taylor finished 2022 with only 13.3 points per game, somehow good for RB17. A major disappointment when considering his 21.9 point per game, RB1 season in 2021.

One reason for such a poor 2022 season for Jonathan Taylor was his multiple injuries to the same ankle. In Week 4 he rolled his ankle, which forced him to miss three games. Some injury analysts say his return was likely rushed, leaving him at less than 100-percent for at least the first two games back. Then in week 15, just as fantasy playoffs started, he suffered a high ankle sprain that ended his season. 

Despite this, when healthy, he managed 92 total yards per game on 21.1 opportunities per game. The workload was a slight decline from 2021 where he averaged 22.6 total opportunities per game. The problem was the efficiency took a step back from his 2021 total of 127 yards per game. Additionally, after ranking top 15 in back-to-back seasons in True Yards per Carry, which discounts rushes of 10+ yards, and yards per touch, Taylor ranked outside the top 30 in both in 2022.

Positive Regression

The second reason I see him bouncing back is a positive regression for his touchdown numbers. After putting up 12 touchdowns in 2020 and 20 touchdowns in 2021, Taylor managed only four touchdowns in 2022 across 11 games. Extrapolated across 17 games, still would only have netted Taylor around six touchdowns. This correlation goes hand in hand with a major decline in the total offense between 2021 and last season.

Just how bad was it? While the Indianapolis Colts ran 64.9 plays per game, an increase of three plays per game over 2021. The Colts ranked No. 30 in scoring per game at 17.0 points per game, a massive 9.5 point per game decline versus 2021. The Colts also ranked No. 27 in yards per game with 311.6. This turned out to be a significant decline of 35.5 yards per game.

Insert Anthony Richardson, the quarterback expected to be the Indianapolis Colts franchise quarterback. Additionally, Jonathan Taylor is fully healthy. Taylor will also likely settle his dispute with the Colts before the season starts, so taking the discount on him now may pay huge dividends especially in best ball tournaments. The offense will turn around and Taylor will regain his efficiency and bounce back. 

Antonio Gibson

EFPG Differential: -1.45

EFPG: 12.51

2023 FantasyPros Expert Platform ranks: RB38

It is clear that Antonio Gibson is becoming a 2023 fantasy darling on social media. Yet, the experts rankings and early average draft positions don’t match who we have seen early in his career.

Gibson has been an RB30 or better in points per game all three seasons so far in his career. This includes top 20 in his first two seasons, with last season being his worst. 

He did see significant decreases in his work in the rushing game last year with the arrival of Brian Robinson. However, he has seen increases to his receiving game each of the last two years. In 2023, the ceiling for his receiving game looks to be at its peak with JD McKissic out of the picture. Before Robinson got healthy, Gibson was sharing work with McKissic who commanded five targets per game in the first eight weeks of the season.

Based on what we saw last season in splits between Robinson and Gibson towards the end of the season, Gibson should command the lion share of receiving work and a healthy sprinkle of carries to give him a continued safe floor. If he can stay healthy, plus see his targets get to give or six per game, he’d be sitting at minimum 75 targets next season. Gibson may not finish as a top 12 RB. However, his floor is far safer than most running backs currently ranked ahead of him. Plus, the receiving work gives him a superior weighted opportunity and chance for better fantasy points per opportunity.

Cam Akers

EFPG Differential: -0.43

EFPG: 9.85

2023 FantasyPros Expert Platform ranks: RB22

Cam Akers first season off his 2021 Achilles tear wasn’t bad. A slow return to form was more than expected given the severity of the injury. As the season wore on, managers got to see him begin returning to the form that had his average draft position skyrocketing in the 2021 offseason. 

He finished as a top 30 running back once in the first 12 weeks. Then, from Week 13 onward he finished outside the top 20 once and he was still the RB25 that week. The six week stretch from Week 13 to 18 was good enough to make him the RB5 in points per game during that time with 17.7 points.

Better yet, his usage grew massively during that stretch. After playing 50-percent of snaps only once in the first 12 weeks. He played less than 50-percent of snaps only once in the last six weeks of the season.

Cam Akers is now a year removed from a major injury. He started out slowly, as expected. But he was able to regain his form late in the season. Throw in a lack of established talent behind him and now we are cooking up a great recipe for a bounce back!

Zamir White

EFPG Differential: -0.13

EFPG: 0.63

2023 FantasyPros Expert Platform ranks: RB66

My final bounce back running back candidate is a real dart throw. With the current Las Vegas Raiders situation with Josh Jacobs, Zamir White could see touches early on as the RB1 in Las Vegas. The reports from training camp are glowing. White is impressing with his skill and tough, powerful run style. The situation is a bonus.

White had an expected fantasy points per game of 0.63 and is ranking out as the RB66 in the FantasyPros expert platform. It won’t hurt you to take him in that range. Jacobs ranked as the No. 1 running back in opportunity share at 83.7-percent. Jacobs hadn’t managed to eclipse a 70-percent opportunity share in his first three seasons in the NFL.

White also boasts an impressive athletic profile for being 6 feet tall and 214 pounds. You will be hard pressed to find many running backs in the NFL today at that size with a 96th percentile speed score and 4.40 40 yard dash. Statistically, however, when looking at last season, there really isn’t much to say to get you on White’s side as a bounce back candidate. 

What stands out? Fourth round draft capital isn’t bad. Situation, with or without Jacobs, isn’t that bad considering he’s the clearcut RB2 on the team looking at the current competition. The athletic profile is intriguing. At his current ranking and ADP, there are free agents going ahead of him.

The Bounce Back

Every year managers are left with players who let them down. While the above players may have been on the list in 2022. It is time to turn the page on last season.

Jonathan Taylor is just a mere year removed from being the No.1 running back for fantasy. Barring anything crazy with his situation between the team owner and himself in Indianapolis, there is no reason to believe he can’t return to the top of the mountain. Antonio Gibson is just too cheap not to buy. Cam Akers is in that all important second year post major injury and many of these types of running backs have major bounce backs. Zamir White is a screaming opportunity no matter what happens with Josh Jacobs.