• March 10The newsroom is closed for summer!
The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

The student news site of Brimmer and May School | Chestnut Hill, MA

The Gator

Fantasy Football’s Best Running Back Hasn’t Played a Snap Yet

Fantasy football players: watch out for an elite rookie running back.
Wikimedia Commons
Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson poses for a promotional video after being drafted in the 2023 NFL Draft with the Texas Longhorns logo superposed in the background. Design by Evan Michaeli. Photos Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Fantasy football players: The best running back prospect in years is taking snaps in the National Football League (NFL) and ready to terrorize defenses. I am talking about Atlanta Falcons rookie running back Bijan Robinson. It is time to get ahead of the game before Robinson drops 30 points on your fantasy football team.

Robinson has zero NFL touches, thus fantasy owners are afraid of the unknown. That’s simple psychology and why people allow him to fall to the second round of fantasy drafts this year.

Even though Robinson is a rookie in the NFL, he is no stranger to success. After averaging a ludicrous 17.7 yards per carry as a senior in high school, he walked into the University of Texas as a five-star recruit and the country’s highest-ranked running back of 2020. It’s safe to say that expectations were high for the Arizona native. Nonetheless, Robinson did not disappoint.

Robinson shared a backfield with two future NFL running backs, but still dominated in his first season. He broke onto the scene as a true freshman, playing nine games, recording 899 yards, 8.2 yards per carry, and six touchdowns.

Despite not leading the team in rushing attempts, he finished with the most yards on the team by 285 and was Texas’ most efficient back by three yards per carry. He made the Big 12 conference look like Pee Wee football.

After a fantastic freshman season, Robinson cemented his job as the Longhorns’ workhorse and never looked back. Given full access to the offense, Robinson exhibited that he could handle a gargantuan workload. The most remarkable showing was a 37-touch, 232-yard performance against TCU.

Even with an elbow injury at the end of the season, Robinson played in ten games, rushed for 1,422 yards, averaged 5.8 yards per carry, and scored 15 touchdowns, leading to a nomination for All-Big 12.

Being draft-eligible in 2023, Robinson came into his junior season with high expectations. Like his freshman year, he blew them out of the water with a season that made scouts drool.

Robinson played 12 games and finished with 1,894 yards, 6.1 yards per carry, and 20 touchdowns. Subsequently, he was unanimously named an All-American and received the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back.


Video Courtesy of PSC Highlights, ESPN, and the NCAA.


No one could bring down Robinson, as he became the first running back–since Pro Football Focus (PFF) tracking–to break over 100 tackles in a season. Robinson’s receiving chops were also on display, as he averaged 16.5 yards per reception, a mark higher than Christian McCaffrey ever hit in college.

Robinson walked onto the 2023 NFL draft red carpet as the best-rated running back prospect since Saquon Barkley in 2018. Eight picks in, Robinson was selected by the Atlanta Falcons.

It might seem like the Falcons are an unfortunate landing spot after they finished last in the NFC South last season. However, a closer look reveals how the Falcons are an ideal match for Robinson.

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith was the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans before his current job. In his last season with the Titans, Smith organized the offense that saw Derrick Henry win Offensive Player of the Year and become the eighth running back in NFL history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season.

After leading the league in rushing attempts and with uncertainty at quarterback, the Falcons will heavily rely on the ground game again this season. In 2022, the Falcons’ best running back was a fifth-round rookie, Tyler Allgeier, who ran for over 1,000 yards.

If a fifth-round rookie succeeded with this offense last year, imagine what Robinson, a top-ten pick can do. Additionally, after keeping their offensive line together, PFF projects the Falcons to have a top-ten group for Robinson to run behind.

I’ve heard the argument that drafting Robinson in the first round is a poor choice because he hasn’t played a snap in the NFL yet. However, on the contrary, Robinson’s youth makes him enticing.

Would you rather draft a player who has endured over 1,000 hits in the NFL or one who has yet to wash his jersey? Six of the eight running backs regularly drafted in the first two rounds have more than 1,200 career touches. Excluding Robinson, each of these backs suffered from significant injuries during their careers.

Along with an increased injury risk, regression is a concern for veteran running backs. Over the last five years, only three running backs older than 27 were top 12 running backs. None were top three options. This season, rankings include four running backs above the age of 27 in the top 12. Why should we expect this year’s running backs to break this trend?

Furthermore, rookie running backs can produce effectively. For example, Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker III were top 15 running backs in points per game last year. In 2021, Najee Harris was the fourth-best running back. In 2020, Jonathan Taylor and James Robinson finished as the sixth and seventh-best running backs respectively. All of these running backs were significantly worse prospects than Robinson.

Historically, running backs selected in the top ten perform even better. Case in point, Barkley’s rookie season in 2018, when he finished as the top running back. In 2017, McCaffrey finished as a top-15 running back despite being in a timeshare and placing third on his team in rushing attempts. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliot was the second-best running back. Robinson’s ceiling is not capped by his rookie status.

There are no questions about Robinson’s talent or situation. He has a low risk of injury and will not regress. Moreover, rookie running backs can be top options immediately.

So, don’t be surprised when a random rookie with a fun name takes the league by storm.

View Comments (1)

Comments (1)

The Gator does not accept anonymous comments to any of its social media feeds or posts.
All The Gator Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Evan MichaeliSep 6, 2023 at 5:05 pm

    Great article, Drew. Love seeing you take up articles. You did a fantastic job.