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When the day comes that Razzball is in charge of the fantasy football universe, the first thing we should do is create a Hard Knocks-style show every preseason focusing just on skill-player position battles. Not only could we read someone’s news article or social media post about who performed better in their reps with the first team in practice, but we could actually see it for ourselves. With our unlimited Razzball budget, we would have camera crews set up at all the hot battles across training camps.

But for now, we are left to decipher uneven playing time in preseason games and beat reporter practice reports. But even though training camps might be closer to winding down, the position battles are heating up more than ever. Here are the top five running back position battles still to be determined as we inch closer to the 2023 fantasy football season.

5. Miami Dolphins – Raheem Mostert vs. Jeff Wilson vs. Devon Achane

Under new head coach Mike McDaniels, the Dolphins evolved into a passing juggernaut last season, at least until Tua Tagovailoa got pile-driven into the turf one too many times. The Dolphins passed the ball at the seventh-highest rate in the league in 2022, so the rushing pie is much smaller than other teams. But at least we don’t have to worry about Tua rushing anymore. That is probably off his play-calling sheet for the rest of his career.

The Dolphins drafted Devon Achane out of Texas A&M in the third round during the 2023 NFL Draft. After he put up a 99th percentile speed score at the combine and had back-t0-back seasons in college with 24+ catches and 10+ touchdowns, Miami sees Achane as a player who can play the role on passing downs and in a hurry-up offense.

That leaves Mostert and Wilson left to fight for everything else, including goal line carries. Finally healthy for 16 games last year, Mostert was able to rack up a career-high in carries (181) and receptions (31). But those were primarily in between the 20-yard lines. Jeff Wilson had twice as many rushing attempts inside the 10-yard line than Mostert last season.

Add it all up, and this is a backfield that gives you a headache just looking at it, much less deciphering if you can start any of them on a weekly basis.

4. Detroit Lions – Jahmyr Gibbs vs. David Montgomery

The Detroit Lions backfield is the real-life embodiment of the meme, with the guy walking next to his girlfriend and then checking out the better-looking girl walking past him. A month before the 2023 NFL Draft, David Montgomery signed a three-year, $18 million deal with Detroit after they lost D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. Without much competition, this looked like Montgomery’s backfield to lose. Then, the Lions shocked the NFL world by using the 12th overall pick on Jahmyr Gibbs from the University of Alabama. He was a do-everything back in college, so when you combine that with the draft capital, may believe Montgomery is now relegated to backup duties.

But $18 million and three years ain’t nothing. Montgomery was top-ten in both juke rate and evaded tackles last season (to go along with 9.3 yards per reception), so he has juice left in the tank. With Jameson Williams suspended for six games and Amon-Ra St. Brown dealing with a leg issue, the Lions may choose to heavily rely on the running game to start the season. But the guy who got Detroit’s management all hot and bothered on draft day is the likely guy to win the job by the end of the season.

3. Seattle Seahawks – Kenneth Walker vs. Zach Charbonnet

There were a few days of panic in Seattle when both incumbent back Kenneth Walker and second-round rookie Zach Charbonnet were battling various injuries in early August. But those fear have now mostly subsided, and what we are left with is speculation of how Pete Carroll will handle these two talented runners.

Kenneth Walker exploded onto the scene after Rashaad Penny’s injury early in 2021. His 1,051 rushing yards and 165 receiving yards earned him 13.5 fantasy points per game, even including the three weeks he was a nobody when he was backing up Penny. From Weeks 5 through the Playoffs, Walker averaged 15.6 fantasy points per game and had six games with more than 100 rushing yards.

Some answers to this backfield can be found on the depth chart. Currently, Zach Charbonnet is listed third behind Walker and DeeJay Dallas. That’s Pete Carroll for you – never been a fan of rookies. This is a majority workload that is Walker’s to lose. But I wouldn’t completely rule out the rookie Charbonnet making a big contribution in the second half.

both with injuries during camp

2. Philadelphia Eagles – Rashaad Penny vs. D’Andre Swift vs. Kenneth Gainwell

The real answer to that three-headed monster of a question is, of course, Jalen Hurts. Hurts is likely to have 600+ rushing yards and more than a handful of “tush push” touchdowns this season. But considering the Eagles were the fourth-most-run-heavy team in the league last season, there is plenty of opportunity to go around. But while there may be a lot of opportunity available, what we don’t have right now for these three capable running backs are answers.

Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift come over from the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions, respectively. They bring different skill sets (Penny, the tough and explosive runner, Swift, the pass-catching savant) but also one shared problem: injury history. Both Swift and Penny have suffered from injury the bug over the years, so the Eagles must hope that using one to spell the other will keep them fresh this year. But recent reports out of camp list Kenneth Gainwell as the primary two-minute drill back, and he has been getting more and more reps with the first team. Guess right on these guys at their ADPs (Swift: 67th, Penny: 112th, Gainwell: 152nd), and you could have yourself a league-winning roster late in the draft.

1. New York Jets – Breece Hall vs. Dalvin Cook

With Dalvin Cook officially signing with the New York Jets this week, we now have a full-blown, four-alarm running back battle on our hands for the Hard Knocks darlings. As if the Jets needed more media scrutiny, now they have the conspiracy heads out on the interwebs talking about whether or not Aaron Rodgers forced their hand to sign the back Rodgers faced in the NFC North twice a year for the last five seasons. Assuming Cook’s long-standing shoulder issues are behind him after off-season surgery, he might have the upper hand here initially. Breece Hall was just activated off the PUP list, and Rodgers has zero familiarity or rapport with him.

Hall was a beast last season, ranking number one overall among running backs in yards per touch (6.1), but Cook has over 4.4 yards per carry and more than 33 receptions in each of the last three seasons. Cook has a nose for the end zone, scoring 33 touchdowns over the last three years. Hall is certainly the future for the Jets’ rushing offense, but there is growing concern that Cook might be a large part of the present.

For more from Ryan and his Razzball content, find him on Twitter @CableBoxScore.