Dynasty Debate: Achane, Charbonnet, or Abanikanda
By Kyle Highfill
In fantasy football, the running back position can either make or break your team. It is important to have at least one running back that can help carry your team week in and week out. There are a ton of rookie prospects that are solidifying themselves as solid RB options for the NFL draft. Where they end up though may determine how fantasy relevant they will be. It is clear that Bijan Robinson out of Texas and Jahmyr Gibbs from Alabama are the top 2 running backs based on talent. No matter where they get drafted, it feels like they will be inside the top 3 position players drafted in almost every rookie draft this offseason, with wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba mixing in between them. There are 3-5 running backs that follow Robinson and Gibbs in my rankings, but it seems like nobody can really agree on where they rank. Today, we are going to look at Devon Achane, Zach Charbonnet, and Israel Abanikanda and see where they should rank amongst rookie RB rankings.
Age: 21 (October 13)
Height: 5’8 ft
Weight: 188 lbs
Devon Achane has been making noise in the draft process this past week at the NFL Combine. We all knew he was fast, but did you know he posted the 4th fastest 40 time of all time by a running back with a 4.32? This speed has allowed Achane to really excel at the collegiate level putting up over 2,000 rushing yards and 17 rushing TDs on 216 attempts, during the past 2 years at Texas A&M. Achane was also able to add 60 receptions for 457 yards and 4 TDs through the air in those 2 years. Achane has the speed and explosiveness to make defenders miss, but most importantly get downhill quickly. The biggest issue for him though is his weight. The fantasy community wants to see that 200 pound number, and Achane isn’t there yet. He is a hard runner inside the box, but how many big hits will he be able to withstand throughout the year? I think Achane needs to go somewhere to inherit a role like Aaron Jones. This way he can get the carries he deserves inside the tackles, but can also display his skills in the slot and get 3-4 receptions a game.
Age: 22 (January 8th)
Height: 6’1 ft
Weight: 220 lbs
One of the most impressive running backs that has not been able to get enough hype this offseason. Over the past two years, Charbonnet has carried the ball 398 times for 2,511 yards and 27 touchdowns. He has truly been a workhorse back for UCLA and is looking forward to doing the same thing in the NFL. If Zach had that breakaway speed, he would be very comparable to a guy like Nick Chubb. He still put up a solid 4.53 40 time and has shown his ability to move the chains consistently. Charbonnet might be lacking in quickness, but his patient running style allows him to find a hole and hit the ground running straight through it. He is going to be an issue tackling for corners and linebackers because of his size which is why I think he should be going higher than some analysts are ranking him. I think he is currently my clear cut RB3 in rookie drafts and I am really hoping he goes to an empty backfield where he can fully take over in the 2023 season.
Age: 20 (October 5th)
Height: 5’11 ft (unofficial)
Weight: 215 lbs (unofficial)
Abanikanda has not gotten the credit he deserves and his name is currently going downhill due to not participating in the NFL Combine. Apparently, he suffered a minor injury last month and decided it would be safer for him to wait to perform until the pro day. Israel is currently one of the youngest running backs in the NFL draft, which gives him one or two more years to perform than other rookies. Abonikanda had a solid sophomore season but truly broke out last year with a blistering 1,431 yards and 20 touchdowns on 239 carries. He has shown that his body can withstand a true workhorse load, and hopefully he can get the opportunity to do so in the NFL. His age does show some whenever he is impatient while hitting his gaps, but he is able to use his elusiveness to jump ship and hit other gaps if need be. I think Abonikanda has the potential to be the RB4-5 in this class if he can perform well in his pro day.
There is so much talent in the running back field this year, which is making it really fun to debate on where guys should be ranked. I am rankings will be fluctuating daily and will shift a lot after the NFL draft.