There's No Need to Panic About Zach Charbonnet's Fit in Seattle
The Seahawks used second-round capital on a running back for the second consecutive year, selecting UCLA RB Zach Charbonnet with the 52nd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Last year’s selection Ken Walker, ran for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns and ended 2022 as the RB15 in half-PPR points per game. Here’s a look at what this startling pick could mean for the Seattle backfield in 2023 when it comes to fantasy football.
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Zach Charbonnet as a Prospect
The UCLA product was most NFL Draft analysts' RB3 in this class, but some even had him above Jahmyr Gibss after Bijan Robinson. Charbonnet led the Pac-12 in rushing, laying 1,359 ground yards and 14 touchdowns with an impressive 7.0 yards per carry, plus the addition of 37 catches for 321 yards.
He projects as a complete back with solid vision, cutback skills, and plenty of power. Charbonnet comes into the NFL with the receiving chops and the ability to grind through tackles, making for a juicy fantasy prospect.
Charbonnet’s Fit with Seattle
What we do know is that Pete Carroll loves to establish the run and will do it often. The addition of another high-end RB might seem surprising and frustrating for fantasy managers, but in reality, it could be a good thing overall for this offense. Seattle also added former UGA RB Kenny McIntosh in the seventh round, further deepening their backfield room for 2023.
Charbonnet’s receiving chops are what the team was after and in an interview with Seattle Sports 710, Carroll stated “He’s so versatile. He just will fit in and be a great addition. And really, we’re gonna find out how far he can take it in terms of the receiving part of it. We know he’s really good at it. But so is Kenneth [Walker], so those guys will be battling. And we also went all the way down to get Kenny McIntosh because of his versatility. There’s so many positives about these guys.”
While Walker did produce for the fantasy crowd last year, he struggled as a pass catcher, posting the eighth-worst yards per route run (.85) among RBs with at least 15 targets. Charbonnet can come in on those crucial third downs and goal-line situations and produce solid numbers for both real and fantasy football.
Carroll loves himself a 1A-1B situation in his RB rooms and while Charbonnet may start as the RB3 behind DeeJay Dallas, he has the chops to move up to Walker’s 1B or even leapfrog the sophomore at some point. However, this offense won’t have a clear alpha RB, it's just not set up that way. A Javonte Williams/Melvin Gordon situation in Denver from 2021 is highly possible, where they split the workload pretty evenly and ended the season as RB17 and RB18 respectively in total half-PPR points.
What we have seen in the past though, is that the Seattle backs seem to have trouble staying healthy so all RBs are in play and draftable at the start of every fantasy season. Whether it was Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, and even Walker last season, the establishment of the run takes its toll on Seattle’s backfield. Right now, Walker’s ADP has fallen to RB14 at pick 40, while Charbonnet is being drafted as the RB31 in the ninth round. McIntosh has jumped above Dallas as RB97, with Dallas coming off boards as RB120.
Seattle’s Look for Fantasy Football
One person Charbonnet’s presence helps is QB Geno Smith. Not only does he gain a new weapon in first-round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but the addition of yet another body with pass-catching prowess will only help his fantasy value in 2023. Right now Smith’s ADP is depressed as QB16 as an early-ninth rounder, but he has fantasy QB1 potential if he plays at the same level as last year’s QB5 performance enhanced by two talented new additions.
The backfield itself isn’t ideal for fantasy purposes, but as mentioned above, we could see dual fantasy RB2 performances from Walker and Charbonnet a la Denver’s RB room from 2021. Williams and Gordon saw nearly identical touches per game that season with 14.5 for the rookie and 14.4 for Gordon, and they both ended the season in RB2 range with just 5.2 half-PPR points separating them.
Before the NFL Draft, Walker was the sixth RB off boards in the second round but has fallen a near round and a half down to pick 39.5 as RB14. Charbonnet is still in an affordable range as RB31, which will likely climb after we see how the work is being handed out at training camp.
We can’t forget about McIntosh and Dallas in those best ball formats, as they could provide some spike weeks, and if anything were to happen to Walker, Charbonnet, or both, they each can slide in and garner legitimate volume.
The Bottom Line
- Zach Charbonnet was profiled as one of the most complete backs in this year’s draft class, possessing power, speed, and solid hands.
- The landing spot isn’t ideal for fantasy purposes, but the way the Seattle offense relies on their RBs, their entire depth chart at the position is always in play for fantasy drafts.
- Consider Ken Walker and Charbonnet 1A and 1B in the Seahawks backfield, with both possessing the potential for a fantasy RB2 output. For my fake money, my preference is Charbonnet based on his current ADP (101.2).
- Geno Smith gets a bump with another pass catcher on the roster and as QB16, and he makes for a great stacking option with DK Metcalf (ADP:29.7), rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba (ADP:59.3), and/or Charbonnet.
- Both Kenny McIntosh and DeeJay Dallas are draftable as late-round best ball darts and currently boast 18th-round ADPs.