Could Isiah Pacheco finish as the RB1 in fantasy football in 2024?

Isiah Pacheco made a notable step in his second season, but could he end up finishing as the RB1 in fantasy football next year?

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Among a 2022 draft class that has yielded multiple contributors to back-to-back Super Bowl champions, Isiah Pacheco was a nice find in the seventh round for the Kansas City Chiefs. He rushed for 830 yards and five touchdowns as a rookie, with a notable run as RB18 in fantasy (0.5-point PPR) from Week 10-17.

This past season, Pacheco was the lead guy in the Chiefs' backfield from the get-go. He finished as the RB13 in 0.5-point PPR (through Week 17), with 935 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground in 14 games. He was rested in Week 18, and two missed games due to a shoulder injury in Week 14 and 15 were badly-timed for his fantasy owners. But he still took a nice step in his second season.

Fantasy Football 2024: Will Isiah Pacheco make a jump to finish as the RB1?

Pacheco's running style is noticeable, described by some as "like he's angry at the ground." Despite missing or sitting out three games, he was top-10 in the league among running backs in red zone rushing attempts (42) in 2023. His nine passing game targets in the red zone was also among the best in the league at his position. His 49 or 50 red zone touches, depending on the source, was a top-10 mark in the league among running backs.

That latter stat is notable, as it hints at the biggest growth area for Pacheco in 2023. After seeing just 14 targets and 13 catches as a rookie, he had 44 receptions (on 49 targets) for 244 yards and two receiving touchdowns in his second season.

The Chiefs feel sure to bolster their wide receiver room this offseason, perhaps notably so. That will impact Pacheco's target volume next season. But if the offense is better, or more consistent without wide receivers dropping passes left and right, that's good for everyone.

Skeptics might say Pacheco's aggressive running style makes him more of an injury risk than some other running backs, and he has had two surgeries on the same shoulder within the last year. But the nature of the position is inherent injury risk, and Pacheco is no greater a risk than anyone else.

A locked down high-volume, high-leverage role in a good offense, led by a great quarterback and that should be bolstered in a key spot this offseason. It would be quite a leap to finishing as the RB1 in fantasy, but it is within the range of outcomes for Pacheco in 2024.