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Worst RB strength of schedules for 2023 fantasy football

Which running backs have the hardest schedules against pass defenses for the 2023 NFL season? We break them down.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 08: Kenneth Walker III #9 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against the Los Angeles Rams in overtime at Lumen Field on January 08, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Despite the conversation around the value of the running back in today’s NFL, the position continues to play an important role on any fantasy football roster. The elite talents are a dime a dozen, and when looking at potential starters or even sleeper picks, a keen strategy is to assess their strength of schedule for the new season. A tough slate could severely hamper a running back’s fantasy upside for the long haul.

Here are the fantasy running backs with the toughest schedules in 2023.

Worst rushing schedules

Kenneth Walker III, Seattle Seahawks

Facing the 49ers' run defense is a hurdle in and of itself. But facing them twice? That equates to being dealt a bad hand. Walker will face their NFC West division rival twice this coming season, and San Francisco’s stellar defense naturally finished as the best against opposing fantasy running backs. In 2022, the 49ers allowed just 12.9 fantasy points per game to the position, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t put together a repeat performance in 2023.

Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns

Chubb will be one of the first fantasy running backs taken off the board, and rightfully so, but that doesn't mean the schedule ahead of him will be a cakewalk. Cleveland will face their AFC North rivals, the Bengals and Steelers, twice each this season. Both of those teams just so happen to have ranked in the bottom 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs in 2022, with the Bengals having allowed the second-fewest overall (14.6 per game).

D’Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles

Swift has an excellent chance to make a run for the Super Bowl with his new team, but there’s always a caveat. The Eagles will face their NFC East rivals twice each this season and the Cowboys, Commanders, and Giants each happen to have ranked in the bottom seven of fantasy points allowed to running backs in 2022. On average they allowed 15.7 fantasy points per game to tailbacks, but keep in mind that Swift will likely cede some carries to the newly added Rashaad Penny.

Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

Robinson sits atop a crowded running back depth chart that also includes Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier, but all three will face an NFC South division that was home to some of the best-run defenses in 2022. Against tailbacks, the Panthers and Buccaneers each ranked in the bottom eight in points allowed per game to the position, with an average of 15.9. Additionally, if Desmond Ridder can’t confidently helm the offense through the air, it could make it that much easier for defenses to stack the box to defend the run.