If you search the top 35 in my updated Dynasty running back rankings below, you'll see a handful of running backs who may not be 100% to start the year. We have J.K. Dobbins more than a year removed from a torn ACL, Cam Akers coming off a torn Achilles, Ken Walker recovering from a hernia, while both Elijah Mitchell and Miles Sanders have missed a large chunk of camp due to hamstring issues. While all of these have upside beyond where they're being ranked, Dobbins is the only one who I could reasonably see inside my top five by the end of the year. But he's going to have to get on the field first.
As of Wednesday morning, Dobbins is still uncertain for Week 1 and there's a good chance he won't see a full workload even if he is active. Expect him to split with Kenyan Drake and Mike Davis, and if that's the case, Dobbins would be a boom/bust flex who likely needs a touchdown to be worth starting. But we don't play Fantasy Football for Week 1 results, and Dobbins has elite upside as soon as he's 100%. And he's still just 23 years old.
The first place you can look for that upside is back in 2020. As a rookie, he averaged 6.0 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns on 134 carries. Eight of those 134 carries went for more than 20 yards. He scored six times in his final five games and averaged 85 yards rushing per game despite just 12 carries per game.
Last offseason the Ravens spoke often of including Dobbins more in the passing game, and even though he was hurt before the season, that plan was evident when Devonta Freeman took over the job midseason and averaged more than four targets per game from Week 7 through Week 14. Dobbins himself led Ravens running backs with 18 catches as a rookie and caught 20 or more passes all three years at Ohio State.
If, as I expect, we get 15 carries and three or four targets a game from Dobbins in the second half, he absolutely has the potential to win people championships. Then he'll head into 2023 as a 24-year-old running back emerging as a true No. 1 option. He may just enter 2023 in the top five of these rankings as well.
If Dobbins is ruled out for Week 1 or struggles early, I will be making trade offers to see what I can get. It's not often you get the chance to buy low on a running back of his caliber at this stage of his career.
Here are my updated Dynasty running back rankings: