The Denver Broncos running back room entered the preseason with a handful of question marks as a result of injuries and turnover. However, through two games of preseason action, we’re beginning to get a feel of how this unit is shaping up to be, in regard to the leading tailback and potential change-of-pace options for Sean Payton’s new team.
Below is how Denver’s running back room is beginning to take shape, and exactly why it’s important for your respective fantasy football season.
Broncos RB depth chart
Early-down back: Javonte Williams
Third-down back: Javonte Williams
Goal-line back: Javonte Williams or Samaje Perine
Change-of-pace back: Samaje Perine or Jaleel McLaughlin
What has preseason usage told us about Broncos’ backfield?
Williams has only played in Denver’s Week 2 contest, but his three carries for 12 yards serve as a reminder of why he’s the bonafide RB1 for the Broncos. Perine has had solid back-to-back outings with his new team, logging six carries for 26 yards in Week 1 and three carries for 22 yards in Week 2 with his longest gain of nine yards.
Perine has a similar type of build as Williams and his decisiveness in choosing when to get upfield speaks to why he’s the perfect backup to Williams. As the new kid on the block, Jaleel McLaughlin could prove to be a sleeper option in the backfield for Denver. He tallied 20 yards on just four carries in Week 1 and finished tied for a team-high 45 rushing yards and a touchdown in Week 2 against the 49ers.
How might RB touches in 2023 be distributed?
Given that Williams will continue to work his way back into the speed of the game following ACL surgery, I expect him and Perine to at least split carries to begin the season. While Williams is the clear RB1 with greater upside, Perine has shown he’s capable of handling the starting reps through his time with the Bengals. Williams averaged 11.8 attempts per game in 2022, and he should be equipped to ramp up to that total by midseason.
Perine will likely start out the season with an average of double-digit carries on a per-game basis, but could easily take a step back closer to his 5.9 average last season. If McLaughlin proves to be a potential change-of-pace back, he should warrant some consideration for roughly five or so carries per game while also being targeted in the passing game.