With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fantasy football managers — particularly those in dynasty leagues — are trying to size up rookie values. And few rookie running backs have a wider realistic range of outcomes in 2023 and beyond than the Seattle Seahawks‘ Zach Charbonnet. What might dynasty managers expect from him?
Zach Charbonnet Dynasty Outlook and Value
Few teams have had a larger collection of terrific running backs in recent years than the Seahawks. Likewise, few teams have had worse RB fortune. This franchise invested a second-round pick on Christine Michael in 2013, likely with an eye toward a post-Marshawn Lynch backfield by 2015 or 2016. As many fantasy managers know all too well, Michael didn’t pan out.
In fact, the next few years featured Lynch, as well as a rotating cast of starters that included Robert Turbin, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, Eddie Lacy, Mike Davis, Chris Carson, and J.D. McKissic. And that only gets us to 2017.
You know the rest. Rashaad Penny couldn’t stay healthy, and Seattle — in what was supposed to be a rebuilding 2022 campaign — snagged Kenneth Walker III with the No. 41 overall pick in last year’s draft. He was the second RB selected, only five spots after presumptive No. 1 college-eligible RB Breece Hall.
And when Penny got hurt, Walker stepped in as the bell cow. The rookie totaled an impressive 228-1,050-9 rushing line while reeling in 27 receptions. It appeared that the 22-year-old Walker would be a dynasty gold mine for at least the next three years.
But in this year’s draft, the Seahawks had other plans. Despite still needing to fill other holes, they opted to grab Charbonnet with the No. 52 overall pick. A bold move? Absolutely. Of course, Seattle doesn’t care about our fantasy teams; they care about challenging the 49ers in the NFC West. As one of the top running backs in the draft, Charbonnet apparently helps meet that need.
This context is critically important as we try to quantify Charbonnet’s dynasty value. The Seahawks used second-round draft capital on both him and Walker. The latter did as well or better this past season than most people realistically could have expected. The former still has much to prove but could get the chance to prove it on Day 1.
Because we don’t yet know if Walker will be used as a bell cow, or if Charbonnet’s presence signals a commitment to “sharing the load” — that dreaded term for fantasy managers around the globe. We don’t like people who share. We want high-usage talents who can net us 25+ points in any given week.
But Walker and Charbonnet are not the same type of runner. For starters, Walker is smaller (or really, more compact) and quicker. He fits the mold of a two- or three-down back. Of course, so did Charbonnet at the college level. But we can only speculate about how his skills will translate at the NFL level.
For now, it’s Walker’s job, and I don’t anticipate Charbonnet taking it from him. The likeliest scenario might find Walker and Charbonnet tag-teaming like Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon in Green Bay, but with a heavier dose of Walker. Perhaps 225-250 touches for Walker and 100-125 for Charbonnet in 2023, with a gradual narrowing in 2024 and 2025, assuming both guys remain healthy.
Keep an eye on Charbonnet’s PPR value. He caught 61 passes in two campaigns with UCLA. Walker wasn’t a gifted pass catcher when he graduated from Michigan State last year; he had to learn more on the job. But Charbonnet is a more natural fit as a third-down back on Day 1, provided he shows well in camp.
Zach Charbonnet Fantasy Ranking
PFN’s Tommy Garrett ranked Charbonnet 16th in his rookie dynasty mock draft, sandwiched between Packers WR Jayden Reed and Lions TE Sam LaPorta. Now, rankings are largely subjective, because they hinge not only on objective truths about players but also perceptions of how they’ll be utilized, as well as personal fantasy preferences.
For example, you might be the kind of manager who loads up on 1B running backs (“complementary” RBs like Dillon) and RB handcuffs, knowing that you can get massive upside at relatively little expense.
Or you might be a best-in-class manager who targets elite positional-skill players whenever possible, followed by filling positional gaps. Why take a running back who gets you 6-8 points when you can snag a wide receiver who averages 8-10?
I fall into the former camp, which means I’m biased toward guys like Charbonnet — bell-cow-capable RBs who might not get a heavy workload anytime soon, but who could win you your week if called upon to spot-start.
I’m not as interested in, say, Bills TE Dalton Kincaid at No. 13, because why burn a rookie dynasty pick on a tight end in a crowded receiving corps (and crowded TE corps) when you could take a potential future bell cow? The same goes with Reed and even the Titans’ Will Levis (No. 11).
If you’re like me and want a roughly 25%-35% chance of locking in an occasional bell cow in Year 1, and a slightly higher chance of securing an RB starter beginning around 2025 or 2026, then I’d lock in Charbonnet no later than the end of the first round of a 12-team rookie dynasty draft.
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast
Listen to the PFN Fantasy Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Fantasy Podcast on our Fantasy YouTube channel.