Fantasy Outlook, Value, Projections, and Rankings

With the 2023 NFL Draft in the rearview mirror, fantasy football managers — particularly those in dynasty leagues — are trying to size up rookie values. The Cincinnati Bengals attempted to fill a small-yet-meaningful hole in their backfield, selecting RB Chase Brown in the fifth round. What might dynasty managers expect from him?

Chase Brown Dynasty Outlook and Value

Joe Mixon‘s off-the-field issues are well documented. They contributed to his stock falling ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft, where the Bengals finally selected him with the No. 48 overall pick. A criminal charge filed against Mixon for an alleged incident in early February — soon thereafter dismissed, and then refiled in April — loom over this franchise.

For now, Cincinnati is expected to roll with Mixon in 2023. Of course, anything can happen these next few months, and the team’s decision to draft a running back this year reinforces the premise that they’re hoping Mixon is legally cleared, while simultaneously preparing for other scenarios.

With a firm eye toward another run at a Super Bowl, Cincinnati beefed up their defense with their first three picks in the opening three rounds. After snagging a wideout in the fourth, the Bengals opted for Brown in the fifth.

It was an interesting move for a team that just lost reliable backup/spot starter, Samaje Perine. With only Trayveon Williams and Chris Evans rostered behind Mixon, this is a decidedly thin backfield. It’s essentially Mixon-or-bust.

Or is it? Presumably, Cincy would have to draft an NFL-ready running back. That they landed Brown on Day 3 suggests he’ll be stuck in a depth-chart battle with Williams and Evans, which wouldn’t do much to elevate the Bengals’ title hopes if Mixon gets hurt, is suspended, or is released.

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My theory is that the Bengals are genuinely thrilled to have landed Brown — that they desperately needed a running back, bided their time, and then snagged their target at the ideal time. Perhaps Brown’s age scared some GMs (he’s already 23), while his 328 carries for Illinois last year could impact his rookie-year efficiency/durability.

But on paper, Brown is an ideal fit for a franchise with realistic Super Bowl ambitions and an otherwise capable RB1 facing what might be troublesome legal ordeal. Brown was a cheap get — a bell cow-ready RB with the speed and size to carry the load in an offensively charged system.

His draft position is normally reserved for one of two purposes: filling an immediate need, or developing into a long-term RB starter.

For now, Brown fits into the former. He’s an insurance policy for Mixon. This team will have plenty of opportunities to find RB help in 2024 and 2025, if needed. This makes Brown (sadly) expendable as a win-now option if Mixon can’t play.

For dynasty purposes, it leaves Brown’s value very much up in the air. Because if the 26-year-old Mixon is legally cleared, then Brown might be no more than a glorified Perine — a 1B back spending his prime years as a fantasy non-entity.

Chase Brown Fantasy Ranking

PFN’s Tommy Garrett ranks Brown No. 38 in his rookie dynasty mock draft, sandwiched between Steelers TE Darnell Washington and Packers TE Luke Musgrave. As we know, rankings are largely subjective, because they hinge not only on objective truths about players but also perceptions of how they’ll be utilized, as well as personal fantasy preferences.

For example, you might be the kind of manager who loads up on 1B running backs (“complementary” RBs like AJ Dillon) and RB handcuffs, knowing that you can get massive upside at relatively little expense.

Or you might be a best-in-class manager who targets elite positional-skill players whenever possible, followed by filling positional gaps. Why take a running back who gets you 6-8 points when you can snag a wide receiver who averages 8-10?

MORE: FREE 2024 NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades!

I fall into the former camp, which means I’m normally biased toward guys like Brown, despite his current standing as a what-if option. For example, I wouldn’t recommend drafting a tight end ahead of him, except perhaps Dalton Kincaid or Sam LaPorta, if you’re a TE-desperate dynasty manager.

Brown might end up posting top-20 RB numbers if Mixon misses the entire season. Of course, anything is possible, including Brown finishing outside the top 50. The same is true for 2024, 2025, and beyond.

As alluded to above, Cincinnati might decide Brown is “good,” but not good enough to be their 1A back in a post-Mixon world. Or, Brown might become the next Elijah Mitchell (the healthier version).

Brown is the consummate fantasy dice role. If he weren’t so talented — if he were simply in the right place at the right time — I wouldn’t be as bullish about taking a chance on a boom-bust fantasy prospect. But his size and talent draw me in. And the possibility of a monster season or two in the next couple years would lead me to take him in dynasty drafts at least a round early.

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