The one position in the NFL where teams can get the most bang for their buck is at running back. The New England Patriots are arguably the best in the business at this strategy, although it hasn't helped the Patriots Super Bowl odds as of late.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen franchises shift their philosophies on how to value and pay the running back position. Instead of paying big money to a single running back, teams are using more of a committee approach and saving their cap space for other positions of need.
We are seeing Day 3 NFL Draft picks and undrafted free agents play at the running back position more than ever before. And that means some teams are getting a ton of value as they are paying running backs less than kickers, punters and long-snappers.
As you look ahead to the first full NFL season for sports betting in Massachusetts, it might be helpful to know which running backs were the most valuable on a dollar-per-yard basis in 2022.
To find out who were the most undervalued running backs in the NFL, we used Pro-Football-Reference.com to find the cap hits and all-purpose yards for every NFL running back during the 2022-2034 regular season.
After doing the math of the dollars per point share for each player in the league, we were able to determine the 10 most value driven RBs from this season. Salary and yards were included for all teams the player was on during the 2022-23 season.
In the study by BetMassachusetts.com – your source for Massachusetts betting apps – here are the results:
Most Undervalued NFL RBs of 2022-23 Season
Patriots Running Back Tops List
What is notable from this chart is that of the 10 running backs listed, nine of them were players on rookie contracts. The only veteran to make the list was Latavius Murray, who signed a veteran minimum contract during the 2022 season. It’s also notable that of the nine players on a rookie contract, seven of them were selected on Day 3 of the NFL Draft or weren’t picked at all. Of those seven players, four totaled more than 1,100 yards during the 2022 season. That is remarkable.
The top player on this list is Rhamondre Stevenson, who was a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in the 2021 NFL Draft. Stevenson became the starting running back down the stretch for the Patriots this year and was their leading rusher. Going into 2023, he is the unquestioned starter for the Patriots and should see even more work this season.
The Patriots will need a lot of help from Stevenson, as they are picked to finish last in the loaded AFC East by BetMGM Massachusetts and other sportsbooks in the Commonwealth.
Tony Pollard was also a fourth-round pick by the Cowboys in 2019 and led the team in rushing yards during the 2022 season. Pollard was named to the Pro Bowl last year and the Cowboys placed the franchise tag on the former Memphis running back. After being one of the league’s best values in 2022, he will be among the highest-paid running backs in the league during the 2023 season ($10.9 million).
Finding cheap running back production has never been easier for NFL GMs. And with the price of franchise quarterbacks, wide receivers, and pass rushers exploding over the last few years, don’t expect there to be a big boom in the running back market anytime soon. Instead, expect GMs to continue to search for bargains like Rhamondre Stevenson, Tony Pollard, and Dameon Pierce on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
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