Dynasty League Football


2023 Dynasty Rookie Early Look: Chase Brown, RB Illinois

We examine one of the most productive running backs in college football before he enters the NFL Draft.

Chase Brown

Only four running backs in this class have accrued over 3,500 rushing yards in college, and one of them is Chase Brown. Now entering the NFL as a 23-year-old, he was the lead running back for Illinois for the past two years, demonstrating a three-down skill set. According to CBS, he is the third-highest lead rusher in the nation.

Is Brown a compiler over the course of a longer-than-average career, or who someone who could work out as a steal in your rookie draft this year?

Let’s take our first look at his career so far and try and understand where he fits into the class and start getting an idea of his range of outcomes in the NFL.


Chase Brown was a lower-level prospect out of St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School. He was a two-star ranked recruit for Rivals and a three star for ESPN. Ultimately, he committed to Western Michigan before ending up in Illinois, elevating from the MAC conference to the Big Ten for his final three years.

Courtesy of 247 Sports.


It’s not a surprise to find three of the four running backs with over 3,500 rushing yards have played in college for four or more years. However, running backs are more limited in production based on opportunity as teams rarely have multiple players on the field at the same time – or at least not in a way that one player can earn or compete for more touches than the other.

Running backs can be judged on their best year, though it’s worth noting that later prospects have more limited expectations in their career length and most fantasy-relevant running backs with multiple top 12 seasons declare before their fourth year in college.

Calendar Description automatically generated

Courtesy of Sports Reference.

Brown had a very strong couple of years to round out his time in college, and was used as a three-down workhorse at the ages of 21 and 22. Notably, of the few running backs Illinois has sent to the NFL of late – all as undrafted free agents – none had as high a monopoly of touches and opportunity as Brown in his final year.

In fact, you must go back to 2008, Rashard Mendenhall (drafted 23rd overall in 2008) to find a drafted running back with nearly as much opportunity. Although Pierre Thomas (undrafted into the NFL in 2007, who had multiple top 24 seasons for fantasy, was also close.

What’s more, Brown had a clear and consistent role in the receiving game even in his first year and the role expanded throughout college.

While not a third-down specialist, he certainly seems to have been involved enough with 41 receptions over his final two seasons.


Without the Scouting Combine we are left to speculate about his main athletic testing. However, he is listed as weighing between 200-205 lbs and standing 5’11” tall, which would be a BMI of around 28. While he is slightly below the average of running backs with a top 12 seasons (BMI 30), it’s well within range and hard to pin down right down until the official measurements take place.

In other words, he seems likely to fill out a uniform just find, presuming a 40-yard dash time of around 4.5 seconds.


As well as a decent size profile, Brown has a final season that easily crosses the threshold of “workhorse.”

This combined with an adequate history of receiving production means he could well find a very fantasy-friendly role in the NFL in the right situation.

While his average breakaway percentage (36%) is lower than average (45%), his yards after contact per attempt (3.5 YCO/Att) is close (average 3.6) and his peak numbers (45% breakaway and 4.1 YCO/Att) are similar to the peak numbers of hits with top 12 seasons since 2015.


Brown is currently projected for third-round draft capital, though there has been a lot of change in that projection over time, especially in November.

However, given some of the best prospects at the position this year are likely to weigh in as smaller, part-time players at the NFL level, a highly productive running back of moderate NFL size could well find a decent landing spot in April.

Courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database.


If Chase Brown gets his minimum expected draft capital, I think he’s going to be someone we should look to add in rookie drafts in the second round.

A lot depends on the draft, but even if he falls, a running back with his skill set can easily find a path to touches in the NFL and provide valuable fantasy starts, and perhaps the upside of a breakout player with lower draft capital as we’ve seen over the last few years like Elijah Mitchell, James Robinson, and Tyler Allgeier.

Peter Howard
Follow me
2023 Dynasty Rookie Early Look: Chase Brown, RB Illinois
Click to comment
2.7 3 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
To Top