The Dynasty Age Apex: Running Back Strategy for Dynasty Fantasy Leagues

by Aditya Fuldeore · Dynasty Leagues

Fantasy football from a Dynasty lens consists of evaluating players, talent, and situations from a multi-year perspective. With managers putting together teams via trades, waivers, and rookie drafts in Dynasty off-seasons, maximizing player windows becomes critical. The key to maximizing player production windows is understanding age apexes.

An age apex is the age range in which a player’s fantasy production and opportunity are maximized. Identifying these ranges gives fantasy managers an idea of what to expect from their top players. So sit back, relax, and join me as I delve into the data (Point-per-Reception format) behind age apexes for running backs. The age apex is real and can be optimized for Dynasty.

Age Apex Running Back Production

Top-12 RBs from each of the last five seasons in fantasy points per game

Looking at RB1 performances from the past five seasons, Christian McCaffrey marks the highest point of the age apex. The plot above shows that the top-12 RB seasons are bunched together under the age of 27, with a sparser number of top-12 seasons over 27.

Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, and Alvin Kamara are also notably at the top of running back production. The average age among the 60 top-12 running back seasons of the last five years was 25.6. Breaking that down further, only two seasons are from RBs over 30 and seven are from RBs over 28. Older running back outliers, like Raheem Mostert in 2023, Mark Ingram in 2019, and Derrick Henry from 2021-22 bring up the average age, with the bulk of fantasy production coming from RBs in their mid-twenties.

Half of the 60 top-12 RB fantasy seasons (in points per game) were from players between 24.3 and 26.9 years old. All the RBs that averaged over 20 Fantasy Points per Game (red line on the plot) were between 23 to 28 years old.

Diving deeper into top-24 finishes over the last five seasons, half of the 120 top-24 finishes were from RBs between 23.9 to 27 years old.

Distribution of RB Ages

The boxplot of ages from RB1/2 finishers shows that Dynasty managers can expect elite production from their running backs primarily in their mid-twenties (purple range). There are fewer optimal finishes from running backs outside the mid-twenties age range.

Age Apex Running Back Opportunity

Opportunity also indicates RB production. As fantasy managers, we love seeing players get more chances, as it leads to more production.

Top-12 RBs from each of the last five seasons in opportunity share

Half of the 60 top-12 RB Opportunity Share seasons were from RBs between 23.9 to 27 years old. Nearly all RBs seeing an Opportunity Share over 80-percent were under 27. Derrick Henry‘s age 28 and 29 seasons are the sole outliers. Higher volume gives running backs a better chance at fantasy production, and younger backs have a greater chance of getting elite volume.

Derrick Henry and Elijah Mitchell are also the only running backs in the 80-percent or higher range (red line on the plot) to have Target Shares under 10-percent. Out of the 60 total top-12 opportunity seasons, 42 had Target Shares over 10-percent.

So, you want to target RBs involved in the passing game or Derrick Henry types. He has been the outlier bending the age apex for opportunity the last couple seasons. Mitchell was the other outlier, receiving 207 carries in 11 games as a rookie at age 23 on the 49ers. However, his sixth-round draft capital wasn’t enough for the 49ers to keep him as the lead back. The arrival of Christian McCaffrey, along with injuries, prevented Mitchell from his trajectory.

Dynasty managers will need to target RBs set to receive elite roles earlier in their careers. Running backs on rookie deals with high draft capital (Jonathan Taylor, Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley) are easy early targets. Backs with a clear pass-catching prowess, like Kyren Williams (2023) and Kenyan Drake (2019) can also provide peak value throughout their age apex. Dare I say it, they make great Zero RB targets in fantasy drafts. Running backs get their largest roles during the age apex.

The Age Apex as Defined by the Last Five Seasons

By looking at the past five seasons of running back production, we can see an ideal age apex window for Dynasty managers to invest in running backs. The majority of RBs in the top tiers of opportunity and production are from 23 to 27 years old. A star is rising at 23, and in the last optimal year of his production at 27. Ideally, you want your running backs to be 24-26 years old, buying rising stars at 23 or younger, while selling your productive backs at 27 years old as they play on second contracts after rookie deals conclude.

A recent example of the age apex hitting is Austin Ekeler being a sell in 2023 at 28-years-old. Ekeler was a top-10 back from 24 to 27-years-old, hitting on the later ends of the age apex, but reaching a decline to 13.2 (No. 21) Fantasy Points per Game in 2023, with 3.3 (No. 62) True Yards per Carry.

The last five seasons of RB finishes have shown that Derrick Henry breaks the age apex, while CMC is at the peak of it. The mid-twenties are the years to bank on long-term production or gamble on a breakout RB for a shorter period. The age apex is where opportunity and production reach its heights.

Optimizing the Age Apex Moving Forward

Dynasty managers can use the running back age apex to make roster decisions. Looking ahead, the 2023 season’s results can help identify RBs to trade for or hold in Dynasty if you roster them. As always, any rookies with a high draft capital from the 2024 NFL Draft are good targets in rookie drafts.

Kyren Williams, Travis Etienne, Rachaad White, and Breece Hall are all running backs under 26 who finished in the top-12 for both Opportunity Share and Fantasy Points per Game in 2023 (among backs playing in at least seven games). They were all great buys throughout the season with the indicators to continue through the age apex window. Out of the group, Williams is the riskiest to continue producing throughout his age apex as his draft capital may take him the Elijah Mitchell route.


Isiah Pacheco, James Cook, and Brian Robinson are examples of RBs in the midst of the age apex, at under-25, set to have multiple more seasons of high opportunity and production. If they are on your roster, you can afford to hold onto them, while they are good buys if you don’t have them.

Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs will not be cheap and shouldn’t be cheap in Dynasty leagues. Both have the draft capital, just missed elite roles in 2023, and are entering the age apex. De’Von Achane is another back who has seen a large passing role and great efficiency. He would be another candidate to buy into his age apex since that will be the range of his career he is most likely to see high opportunity. One last Year 2 RB buy is Tyjae Spears, who was involved in the Titans’ passing game and is set to get a bigger role with Derrick Henry’s impending departure.


James Conner and Alvin Kamara are 28 and at the end of their age apex. Their roles potentially afford them another season of good production, but the likelihood of a top-24 season decreases. If you can deal them for productive players in the age apex, like Pacheco, Cook, or Robinson, it would help extend your contending window (It would likely cost Conner or Kamara plus something extra to tier up to Pacheco, Cook, or Robinson). Or you can grab some picks for a rebuild.


The age apex for running backs can be optimized by identifying running backs with draft capital, opportunity, and a proven role for production. They tend to hit their peaks between the ages of 23-27, mostly on their rookie contracts. Pass-catching running backs in the age apex are optimal choices to produce, especially for the PPR format. Listen to the green and red lights of the age apex to optimize your Dynasty roster. Building your team to compete and knowing when to make trades with this information can win you your league.