Running backs typically account for two spots on a starting fantasy football roster. Therefore, there is reason to look into the volatility of running back twos (RB2), considering the wide receiver twos (WR2) got their episode.
Established in the running back one (RB1) episode, we know there is a ton of change amongst the top ranks of the position. That said, there is reason to believe the same will be true of the RB2 slots. The data will likely tell a story of how volatile the players are.
Who was a running back two in 2022?
However, before jumping into that, as always, the field of players needs to be determined before going any further. The 2022 RB2s were: Jamaal Williams, Najee Harris, Miles Sanders, Alvin Kamara, Travis Etienne, Kenneth Walker, James Conner, Jerick McKinnon, D’Andre Swift, Ezekiel Elliott, Devin Singletary and David Montgomery.
Although the wide receiver and running back positions are vastly different, their secondary standing episodes share a common similarity. This episode has the potential to be a happier episode than that of the RB1 one. That is due to RB2s having the added possibility of moving up on the rankings next season.
So, much like the WR2 episode, this one will feature three different data sets. One will cover the risers, the fallers and the people who remain an RB2 in the following season.
With that in mind, we will once again look at the last 10 fantasy seasons to extrapolate from for last season’s RB2s.
Running backs who rose to RB1:
Compared to the players in the same WR2 spots, RB2s tend to move up to the top-12 less. As a matter of fact, there weren’t any zeroes in this category for WR2s.
The upward movement for RB2s caps off at 17% if rounded up, over the last decade of fantasy football. That isn’t much. However, one spot, in particular, stands out above the rest.
The player in the 15 spot tends to move to the ranks of RB1 a hair under half the time at 40%. That said, Sanders has the best odds of being in the top-12 when all is said and done next season.
The rest of the field has, at best, a 30% chance to accomplish this feat based on the statistics.
Running backs who fell out of RB2:
Like the rest of the volatility episodes, falling out of a particular group reigns supreme. RB2s have the same percentage of dropping as RB1s at 62.5%.
However, there are some clear danger zones for running backs. The hot spots are 19, 20 and 22. These are statistically the worst odds for an RB2 to go against at an 80% drop rate.
The players up against these long-shot chances are: Conner, McKinnon and Elliott. That isn’t to say that this running back trio is guaranteed to fall out of the top-24, but the optics look the worst for them based on their finish last season.
Although those running backs have a bad chance of staying in the top-24 at the position next season, there are more running backs with bad odds. These players are: Kamara, Etienne, Walker, Singletary and Montgomery.
Meanwhile, there are some good spots for RB2s to finish in. Harris and Sanders have, at worst, a 40% chance of falling from the graces of the top-24.
Running backs who remained an RB2:
Now, the number of players who stayed as an RB2 is way higher than the WR2 episode. For starters, there isn’t a single zero in this category, which is great to see. In total, the odds for remaining an RB2 land at around 20%, which is much better than the 15% in the WR2 episode.
Another observation is that the players in the 18 and 21 spots have the best statistical chance of staying in this category. This means Walker and Swift have a 40% chance to be right back in the RB2 range next season.
However, there are a few spots that are still up in the air in terms of their outlook for 2023. For that, let’s look at each data set again.
What about the rest of the field?
What does the future look like for the running backs in the 14, 15 and 21 spots?
Sanders and Swift were discussed earlier. However, looking at each dataset creates a clearer picture of their 2023 outlook.
Sanders has the best odds of the entire RB2 field to thrive next season. He has a 70% chance to at least remain an RB2.
The next best outlook for a running back to succeed next season belongs to Harris. Similarly to Sanders, he is more likely than predicting a coin flip to return as an RB2 or better with a 60% chance of that happening per the percentages.
Speaking of a coin flip, those are Swift’s odds to remain in the top-24 come next year. Everyone else has a less than 40% chance to return to at least this spot next season.
Although the RB2 optics look better than WR2s, volatility is ever-present in fantasy football for better or worse.
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