As we wrap up Week 4 of the NFL season, our attention is drawn towards the top-performing rookie players across the country. The rookie running back group of 2023 has been showcasing impressive stats in the early stages of the season. As we approach Week 5, we have compiled a list of the best rookie rushers for fantasy football in the upcoming slate.
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Who Are the Best Rookie RBs for Fantasy This Week?
Our NFL Week 5 dynasty running back rankings are courtesy of the PFN Consensus Fantasy Rankings.
1) Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
Tied as the NFL’s third-leading rusher, it’s unsurprising that Bijan Robinson is still atop our rookie rankings. Despite a strong push from De’Von Achane, Robinson remains one of the safest fantasy plays possible, thanks to his blend of consistency, explosiveness, and opportunity.
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Robinson has 318 yards on an incredible six yards per carry. We’re still waiting for his first rushing touchdown, which might be coming against the Houston Texans this week.
2) De’Von Achane, Miami Dolphins
Everyone knew Achane was an explosive fireball of a presence, and adding him to the Miami Dolphins’ high-octane offense has produced a best-case scenario. Achane had only one carry and one reception entering Week 3, meaning that his 304 rushing yards, 49 receiving yards, and six total touchdowns have come across two weeks.
It’s hard not to consider Achane a must-play at this point. The Dolphins pivoted to Achane more in the second half against Buffalo as Raheem Mostert fumbled twice. More touches for Achane are coming, and there’s no reason to think he’ll suddenly become less of a big-play threat and red-zone weapon.
3) Jahmyr Gibbs, Detroit Lions
While David Montgomery is a solid running back, Detroit’s usage of first-round pick Jahmyr Gibbs remains confounding. Gibbs has only 39 carries and 70 receiving yards on the season. He’s only 83 rushing yards behind Montgomery despite carrying the ball 30 fewer times.
Gibbs isn’t likely to overtake Montgomery as the lead back this season, but his increase in workload since Week 1 is meaningful. It feels like we’re one big play away from Gibbs’ stock getting back to where it should be for a recent first-rounder. Week 5 would be a good time for it to happen against a woeful Carolina Panthers run defense.
4) Roschon Johnson, Chicago Bears
There were fears that Roschon Johnson would be buried a bit on the Chicago Bears’ rushing attack — that has been the case thus far. Despite averaging an impressive 4.9 yards per touch, Johnson is still looking for work behind Khalil Herbert and Justin Fields. He has only 22 carries for 103 yards on the ground and 11 catches for 58 yards through the air.
Johnson’s value will leap if Herbert misses time or loses his starting job, but there’s no reason to think Johnson is on the precipice of becoming the RB1 in Chicago soon.
5) Jaleel McLaughlin, Denver Broncos
It couldn’t be a more unlikely statement that a 5’7″ running back from Youngstown State is a top-five rookie at running back for Week 5. But here we are after Jaleel McLaughlin produced 72 yards on seven carries in Week 4. With Javonte Williams dealing with a hip injury, McLaughlin has a clear role alongside Samaje Perine.
McLaughlin will be put into position for explosive plays as the Broncos keep him out of pass-blocking and short-yardage gains. Starting him right now is a risk with upcoming matchups against the Jets and Chiefs looming.
6) Tyjae Spears, Tennessee Titans
As long as Derrick Henry is healthy and in town, he’s at little risk of ceding a significant share of touches to anyone else. Although Henry is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry compared to Tyjae Spears’ 6.1-yard mark, Henry’s incredible durability and ability to contribute all three downs is a factor in playing time. Spears has only 20 rushing attempts and 10 receptions through four games.
7) Tank Bigsby, Jacksonville Jaguars
Most expected the Jaguars to split their backfield touches between Travis Etienne and rookie Tank Bigsby, but we’ve seen no indication of this backfield being a platoon. Bigsby has terrific natural athleticism and a low center of gravity, but it hasn’t earned him playing time yet.
Etienne has 69 rushes and 14 receptions, leaving Bigsby in the dust. With Buffalo on tap next, there’s no reason to have Bigsby anywhere but on the bench for Week 5.
8) Kendre Miller, New Orleans Saints
After dealing with a hamstring issue at the end of the preseason and over the first two weeks of action, it’s as if Kendre Miller missed his window to be a major contributor for the New Orleans Saints this season. Alvin Kamara is back, and as Miller earned only 12 touches in two games, he now has a huge mountain to climb to get more.
Miller is buried behind Kamara and, to some extent, Taysom Hill. Jamaal Williams (injured) and Tony Jones (special teams) did not play offense on Sunday but could press him for snaps later this season.
9) Deuce Vaughn, Dallas Cowboys
While everyone loves Deuce Vaughn and it’s undeniable he’s talented, it’s also a tell for defenses when he’s in the game. He’s created 1.33 yards per carry in two of the three games he’s earned a touch, averaging 1.94 yards on 17 carries this season.
MORE: 2023 Dynasty RB Rankings
In general, the Cowboys’ rushing attack has been underwhelming. But this is clearly Tony Pollard’s year, as Dallas wears him out while he’s on the franchise tag. Vaughn is also behind Rico Dowdle on the depth chart.
10) Emari Demercado, Arizona Cardinals
With only four carries for three yards on the season, Emari Demercado is more of a name to watch as the Cardinals’ season unfolds.
The former TCU back could earn a bigger share of the workload if the Cardinals continue losing and open playing time for youngsters.
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