Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

Isiah Pacheco Fantasy Football Outlook

Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco was an out-of-nowhere fantasy football star last year, but can he repeat his success?
Isiah Pacheco Fantasy Football

Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco was one of the biggest out-of-nowhere stars of the 2022 fantasy football season. Starting the year buried on the depth chart, the seventh-round rookie ascended the ranks and established himself as Kansas City’s best runner during their run to the Super Bowl. With the 2023 NFL Draft and free agency (mostly) over, Pacheco is currently the top running back on the best offense in football. Will the Rutgers product be able to take advantage of this situation?

More Fantasy Football Profiles

[cta id=4014 type=cta]

2023 Fantasy Football Outlook: Isiah Pacheco

Isiah Pacheco The Player

First and foremost, we need to talk about Isiah Pacheco as a football player. While running back production is largely due to the offensive line and supporting cast, players aren’t going to get on the field without talent. Pacheco came alive down the stretch last year, but that impressive play could be a fluke. We’ve seen several out-of-nowhere players explode for a few weeks before falling off the face of the Earth (Travis Fulgham, we hardly knew ye), so what are the odds Pacheco suffers a similar fate?

Isiah Pacheco was a seventh-round pick, so fantasy football owners will always have to worry about someone replacing him. Like it or not, draft capital easily the most predictive metric out there for fantasy football success, and for every Austin Ekeler, you have 100 James Robinson’s

In terms of his actual on-field play, Isiah Pacheco had a good-but-not-great rookie season. Appearing in all 17 games while making 11 starts, the Rutgers product finished his rookie season with 170 carries for 830 yards and five touchdowns to go along with 13 receptions for 130 yards on 14 targets. The advanced metrics paint a similar picture, as Pacheco finished the year as PFF’s 24th-best running back out of 60 eligible players and finished 46th in yards created per touch (2.08), 27th in breakaway run rate (4.7%), and 51st in juke rate (14.8%).

Aside from his draft capital, the biggest red flag with Pacheco is his lack of work in the receiving game. It’s no secret that not all touches are created equal in fantasy football, and Isiah Pacheco is going to have a tough time getting the valuable opportunities. Pacheco’s 14 targets are incredibly low for a high-volume passing team like Kansas City, and nothing about his college profile suggests this number will dramatically change any time soon. During his Rutgers years, Pacheco never eclipsed 20 receptions in a season and only had one year with more than 85 receiving yards.

The Offensive Fit

So, based on the above, we know that Isiah Pacheco is the type of fantasy football player that can perform when on the field, but isn’t great enough to be the focal point of the offense – especially when Patrick Mahomes is the quarterback. The Chiefs had the highest pass rate over expected last year, and as long as Mahomes is healthy, that’s never going to change.

With that in mind, Isiah Pacheco has a very limited ceiling for fantasy football unless he increases his role in the passing game. Based on his existing skill set, that isn’t very likely, and the team holds the same belief. Kansas City re-signed Jerick McKinnon to be the receiving back, and there is a chance that Clyde Edwards-Helaire would take over pass-catching duties if injuries struck the veteran.

So, barring something completely unforeseen, Isiah Pacheco is going to be an early-down runner for a team that never runs the ball. While his opportunities will be limited, there is a silver lining here. The Chiefs move the ball better than any other team, which means Pacheco will have plenty of opportunities to reach the endzone. Additionally, stacking the box against Patrick Mahomes is a death sentence, so Pacheco should have plenty of open rushing lanes any time he touches the ball.

If the season started today, Isiah Pacheco would probably finish in the RB18-24 range for fantasy football. However, we still have months until the start of the season, and there is a real chance the Chiefs add some backfield competition between now and September. While they probably won’t get Dalvin Cook, the team could add someone like Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, or Joe Mixon (if released). If this happens, Pacheco would suddenly have little to no value in fantasy football.

Isiah Pacheco Fantasy Football ADP

As of this posting, FantasyPros ADP has Isiah Pacheco going off the board with the 85th overall pick as the RB26. This puts him in the same neighborhood as guys like David Montgomery, Rachaad White, and James Conner.

If you absolutely have to take a running back at this point in your fantasy football draft, then Isiah Pacheco is a fine option considering the available talent. However, you shouldn’t be in a situation where you’re taking running backs in the middle rounds. The dead zone is real, and you’re much better off investing in any other position.

Instead of selecting a running back that is one free agent signing away from irrelevance, you could select someone like Rashod Bateman or Elijah Moore, two players with substantially more upside, or hope that Deshaun Watson rebounds in 2023. Obviously, there is some variance in every fantasy football draft, so if all the interesting players at other positions are already gone, then you can take a shot on Isiah Pacheco. However, at his current price, you’re probably better off looking for help somewhere else. After all, there are plenty of interesting fantasy football running back sleepers you can find later in the draft.

Main Photo: Mark J. Rebilas – USA Today Sports


More Posts

Send Us A Message