The 2023 NFL draft class will be stacked with talent at the running back position. This class will reset the landscape for dynasty fantasy football. There’s a good chance we see multiple running backs sneak into the top 25 of average draft position in the next two years.
Zach Charbonnet was considered one of the running backs in college football. If you stayed awake to watch Pac-12 after dark on Saturday nights, you are aware of his talents. He’s a physical runner who is looking to enter the NFL as the next three-down back to help fantasy gamers get their teams to the next level.
Charbonnet received a four-star rating coming out of high school. He was ranked as the fourth-best running back in the 2019 recruiting class. During his high school career at Oaks Christian in Westlake Village, California, he rushed for 3,819 yards and 36 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons.
During the recruiting process, we saw Charbonnet receive offers from 25 different collegiate programs. His scouting report mentions being a big physical runner who can pound it between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. Back then he was projected to develop into a first-round-caliber prospect.
Courtesy of Sports Reference.
Charbonnet started his career off with a bang, being the first Michigan player to rush for ten touchdowns during their first season. Before he set the record, Tyrone Wheatley and Mike Hart shared the record with nine touchdowns. He had two 100-yard games before finishing his season rushing for 84 yards against Alabama in the Citrus Bowl.
He only appeared in five games during his sophomore season. It was an odd season that led to him rushing for just 124 yards and one touchdown. 70 of those yards came on a touchdown run against Minnesota.
The following off-season Charbonnet pulled a Biggie Smalls and went back to Cali to play for UCLA. He initially took over rushing for 106 yards and three touchdowns against Hawaii in his first game with the Bruins. He took asserted his dominance, rushing for 100 yards in seven games while capping off the year by running over both USC and Cal for a total of 320 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
The decision to come back to UCLA for his senior season surprised a lot of people, but it worked out for him. We saw him improve, rushing for 1,350 yards and 14 touchdowns. He increased his usage in the passing game by catching 37 balls for 321 yards. This time he posted nine 100-yard games. Charbonnet was also very efficient, averaging 4.15 yards after contact per attempt and seven yards per carry.
- Runs with a lot of power
- Excellent contact balance
- Finishes his runs
- Has good vision
- Has the prototypical NFL size
- Can be a three-down back who can pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield
- Short yardage and goal-line situations will not be a problem
- Productive with two different collegiate programs
- Lacks elite speed
- Not a homerun-hitting threat
- Can be indecisive at times during his approach to the line of scrimmage
Courtesy of Mock Draft Database.
Charbonnet is considered one of the top running back prospects in this year’s draft class. On average, he is being selected in the second round at around 58th overall in mock drafts. Considering he’s falling to the back half of the second round, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that he falls to the third round.
We could see some good running back prospects fall to the third round if NFL teams decide to play chicken with these running backs since they will have a wealth of talent on the draft board. Typically, in a class that is deep at a certain position, you will see a dilution of value to some players, causing them to be a tremendous value in the draft.
There’s absolutely no chance he get drafted in the first round as the only lock in this draft is Bijan Robinson. It’s not likely that he will fall to day three, but considering the devaluation of the running back position and the stable of talented running backs in this year’s class, anything can happen. I just wouldn’t bet on it. He seems poised to be a day-two pick. If he falls on his face during the combine, then we might have to change the discussion.
Just from gauging some mock drafts that were posted on social media, it appears Charbonnet is going to be valued as a mid to early second-round pick in rookie drafts. There’s a very good chance he gets bumped into the first round if he lands in a good spot in the draft.
Typically, a productive three-down back who catches the ball out of the backfield tends to find their way in the first round of rookie drafts if they can get drafted on day two or earlier. Since he likely gets drafted on day two, consider him a discount if he falls to you in the second round of rookie drafts.
When forecasting his career for the long term. He should compete early for touches. Don’t be surprised if he’s productive as a rookie. At the very least he will get the opportunity to be the lead back on his new NFL team within the first couple of years of his career.
If he looks good on the field and reels off at least a few games of production during his rookie season, his dynasty value should skyrocket. The rookie draft will be the cheapest way to get him. The downside is that he doesn’t fire early in his career. Considering the production, how he wins on the field, and potential draft capital, he’s worth the risk at his current price tag in rookie drafts.
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