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Don’t Eat The Cheese: 2023 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

Dont Eat the Cheese

Dont Eat the Cheese
The Don’t Eat The Cheese series is back. Who are the 2023 fantasy football running back busts that you should avoid? (Andrew Stein / Vendetta Sports)

Don’t Eat The Cheese: 2023 Fantasy Football Running Back Busts

We just finished off the quarterback list for the Don’t Eat the Cheese series for the 2023 fantasy football season. I’d argue this list is far more important. Zero RB is the way of the future and botching your early running back picks is an automatic way to lose your fantasy league.

Which highly ranked running backs should you avoid in 2023? Get ready because a lot of the heavy hitters will be on this list. Don’t be a noob or you’re asking to lose.

David Montgomery (Detroit Lions)

Not sure I understand the hype on David Montgomery. It’s easy to assume he can handle the Jamaal Williams role but I don’t buy it. On the down low, I think Montgomery stinks as an actual player. Always have. Montgomery is averaging 3.9 yards per carry for his career.

Williams also had an out of nowhere career year rushing for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his six year career. He also scored an insane 17 touchdowns.

I’d bet almost everything I have that Montgomery doesn’t replicate that. Furthermore, the Lions just picked Jahmyr Gibbs and nearly took him with the 6th pick in the draft. I’d imagine Gibbs has a pretty large role in this offense.

In 2021, Williams had 601 yards and three touchdowns. I’d bet that’s around what Montgomery will do in 2023. If that’s the case, he’s massively overvalued in fantasy. For Montgomery to live up to his current ranking, he needs to be Williams from last year. That’s a fools’ errand to bet on that.

Want more proof? How about this… David Montgomery has been in the league for four years heading into year five at a position that translates the fastest to the NFL level. Montgomery has one top ten finish in fantasy ever. His other three seasons were outside the top 20. That top ten finish came when Montgomery was the lead guy in Chicago and had 247 carries. I don’t think he’s sniffing that number in Detroit unless Gibbs goes down.

Travis Etienne (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Another player that I’ll just never buy into. Did you know Etienne had five fumbles last year? Did you know the Jags already came out and said they plan to reduce Etienne’s workload to keep him fresh? Don’t forget that Etienne missed his entire rookie season with an injury. The reduced role is probably a very real thing.

Etienne finished as RB16 last year with no competition on the roster after Jacksonville sent James Robinson to the Jets. A year later, there is more competition than ever. I think Tank Bigsby is flat-out better than Etienne and has the body to steal all of the touchdowns. Ja’Mycal Hasty, D’Ernest Johnson, and Snoop Conner exist too. Johnson was pretty good in Cleveland when called upon too.

I don’t see any chance that Etienne ends up as an RB1 this season and that’s where he’s being ranked. Much rather have Tank for free and use my bigger resources elsewhere.

Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)

There was fear that Barkley could sit out games because of the lingering contract issue. That issue has probably been taken care of with the new contract. Barkley is ranked within the top 4-8 RBs and this just isn’t a spot where you can afford to miss. Just a heads up the video that’s posted was recorded before the new contract. Just a heads up on that. Either way, I still don’t like Barkley for fantasy.

The Giants also have an insurance policy on the roster that they didn’t have before. I’m quite fond of Eric Gray and wouldn’t be surprised at all if he eats into the workload. Matt Breida is still there too but Gray is more talented than you think. I could see him eating into this job even if it’s only slightly.

Furthermore, this is a Barkley that’s starting to age. The 2020 and 2021 seasons for Barkley were total stinkers. Coming off a year where he received 352 touches and wants to be paid (even though he has been paid handsomely as a former number two overall pick) are we sure we can bank on that type of output again?

This is also a Giants team that overperformed a year ago. I still don’t know how that team won nine games outside of Brian Daboll being brilliant. This team could win six games in 2023 and nobody would be surprised. If the team’s success goes down, that means fewer rushing attempts. A mark that sat at 295 this year. Does Barkley even want that type of workload if he’s worried about his cash?

I’d avoid and choose a different route.

Josh Jacobs (Las Vegas Raiders)

Buy low, sell high. Jacobs was RB1 last year. I’ll pass on him this year.

My golden rule in fantasy has remained the same forever. 99% of the time it’s right. I don’t want running backs on bad teams. In a loaded AFC West, the Raiders feel like they’re in trouble and the health of Jimmy Garoppolo is very much in question. If Jimmy G isn’t healthy, this could be a team that guns for the first pick in the draft.

Jacobs averaged a smidge over nine fantasy points per game over the final four weeks of the season. That was the time when the Raiders season went into the toilet. If that happens this year, it’s going to affect his season long output. A year ago, this was a guy that got his 5th-year option declined. Am I supposed to pretend that didn’t happen?

Josh McDaniels also comes from New England. A system that usually features multiple running backs. Maybe Zamir White wasn’t ready as a rookie but will be or should be in year two. Again, another guy who wants a new contract coming off a season where he posted 340 carries. What if that number goes down and the Raiders stink?

I’d want no part of this.

Bijan Robinson (Atlanta Falcons)

I don’t totally hate Bijan Robinson. I get the intrigue. I just think we’re a year too soon.

The Bijan Robinson pick for fantasy breaks my number one golden rule for fantasy. The Falcons are going to suck and I just want no part of running backs on bad teams. The fewer times the team has the lead, the fewer times Bijan is getting the ball.

I like Bijan as a player but the hype has gotten out of control. He’s a good back but not a Hall of Famer. I think there is some sort of expectation that Robinson is going to come right in and light the world on fire day one. I’m not sure he’s that level of talent.

I just think people are jumping the gun a bit here. If Robinson pops, I think it will be next year when the Falcons are another step better. Let people eat the cheese this year and strike when Robinson is ranked too low next year.

Jonathan Taylor (Indianapolis Colts)

I don’t want running backs on bad teams and the Colts are a bad football team. However, there is just more to it when it comes to avoiding Taylor in fantasy.

I think we need to understand the circumstances that Taylor carries with him as he entered the league. I talked about it when Taylor was coming out during the pre-draft process. We’re talking about a player that had an insane amount of carries during his time at Wisconsin. I always thought that this was a player that was going to fall off the cliff faster than the rest of his running mates in the same draft class.

I think we have started to see those signs of decline already. Taylor was a good player in 2022 but that’s a sharp step down from the 2021 version we saw. Still, Taylor is rated as a top-tier running back in fantasy despite the fact that he finished 36th in total points and 24th in points per game last season. I’m sorry but that just doesn’t make sense.

What happens if Anthony Richardson starts to steal some of those carries? We’re also dealing with some drama here as the Colts owner and Taylor’s agent continue to act like children online. Could Taylor pull a noob move and sit out? This entire thing seems like it’s heading down a dark path and I think there is a reason why the Colts haven’t offered him an extension.

The shelf life for a running back is already short. With Taylor, it looks like it’s going to be even shorter. I’d fade this stock until it’s ranked in a responsible range. If you want Taylor, you still have to die to go get him. I’m out on that premise.

Feel free to splash those comments. Do you like the Don’t Eat The Cheese list? Who would you add or subtract?


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