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In this article series, we look back at an individual player from 2014, and try to re-watch every play they were involved in. Using this isolation with a fresh perspective, I am re-charting plays, making notes, and trying to get a feel for if we are missing or confirming a potential Fantasy star in the making…or we try to confirm whether our fading memories, hype, and surface numbers from last season are leading to a twisted perception?
Today’s study: RB C.J. Anderson, Denver
For this ‘Rewind’ study, I did not fully watch every carry or target from C.J. Anderson in 2014. I didn’t need to. I stopped about 2/3rds of the way in. Every play appears the same (more on that in a second). I don’t even need my usual 10,000 words to make my scouting case. This is all pretty simple and straight forward.
Allow me to begin with this question: How many reading this are truly qualified to make a judgement call on C.J. Anderson?
It’s a loaded question. We think we ‘know’, but history says we don’t.
First, the history that many ‘didn’t know’, in hindsight:
When Peyton Manning arrived to Denver in 2012 whirlwind, starting RB Willis McGahee was pumped up in ADP…logically. However, McGahee had just an ‘OK’ (at best) FF-run with Peyton in 2012…and then got hurt mid-season, and Knowshon Morenotook over mid-2012. Moreno had a better performance with Peyton than did McGahee. Looking back on it, people overbought McGahee (compared to what he produced)…and they also missed out on Knowshon being a ‘player’, but most everyone did. Many were 0-fer-2 on their Denver RB judgment calls for Fantasy 2012.
In 2013, most lusted for shiny new rookie Montee Ball. His ADP skyrocketed post-NFL Draft as the assumed franchise RB. Some of you took nibbles at Ronnie Hillman just in case. In reality, Knowshon Moreno was the one to get in 2013. You were wrong on Ball’s immediate takeover, because you were wrong on ignoring Moreno’s ability or organizational status. Most all were 0-fer-2 on the Denver RB judgment calls for Fantasy 2013.
In 2014, most were pretty sure Montee Ball was the right play this time. Wrong. Most thought Ronnie Hillman was FF-dead, and believed C.J. Anderson was the Montee handcuff. Wrong. Most were likely 0-fer-2 on the Denver RB judgment calls for Fantasy 2014 before Anderson was forced into the lineup Week-9 due to the mass injuries Denver took at the position.
During the Peyton era, starting with the overvaluing of Peyton’s impact on McGahee in 2012, and before the Week-9 push of C.J. Anderson in 2015…most people, and for sure all national Fantasy analysts, were never right even once about any of the Denver RB situations for Fantasy. Many were ‘0-fer-6’ on their three years of Denver RB ‘calls’ in the Peyton era (unless you were with FFM and rode our anti-establishment call on Knowshon Moreno in the 2013 preseason. You’re welcome).
In 2015, now most Fantasy analysts and GMs are VERY SURE C.J. Anderson is ‘it’. Pardon me, if I see the 0-fer-6 track record here–and am a skeptic.
You’re probably due.
Like losing six hands of blackjack in-a-row. You’re bound to win the next hand, cosmically speaking.
In all seriousness, all of you pro-C.J. Anderson people…you are probably right in 2015. It’s not a crazy bet. He’s there. He’s solid. He’s at least 33% likely to be ‘the one’ in 2015…with Montee at 33% and Hillman 33%.
We can probably all agree—whomever among us that gets the Denver RB situation right in 2015, is going to FF-prosper…
Moreno FF-delivered in 2013.
Hillman FF-delivered in 2014, until he was hurt and C.J. Anderson FF-delivered post-Ball/Hillman injury.
It’s usually FF-good to be with Peyton.
**Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics IDP Dynasty (three-year) projections now exist on the Fantasy Football Management technology: “The Machine.” See “The Machine” here (link): The Machine via FFM
Anderson might be the right FF-call for 2015, but can we all agree C.J. Anderson is an average/solid/nice/dime-a-dozen RB talent who gets a rocket boost from playing with Peyton Manning? He’s not ‘special’. You wouldn’t really care a ton about C.J. Anderson, Tennessee Titans starter, but calling CJA right as the Denver starter in 2015 could win you a Fantasy title.
I just watched a chunk of Anderson’s 2014. He runs off-tackle like a bull…like a thousand other ‘big’ RBs who are 220+ pounds and run a 4.5-4.6+ 40-time. He blasts through open holes, and doesn’t do as much if he has to shift his body east-west when behind the line of scrimmage. In addition to being a semi-limited, bulldog of a runner, he has ‘good’ hands for the passing game. He’s reliable in the passing game. He’s Carlos Hyde 2.0 (only the 49ers paid dearly for it). I would say that most reasonably talented, 4.5-4.6+ speed, bigger RBs are pretty bankable when holes are open, and Peyton tends to give the running game room to operate. Just like he did for Knowshon Moreno…and the smaller Ronnie Hillman…and Montee Ball…and Juwan Thompson.
Anderson is bowling ball-esque. He is hard to wrap up. What he lacks in his feet, he makes up for in power. He will work just fine in the NFL…and really fine with Peyton. Anderson ‘works’, but please don’t think he’s ‘special’.
What? You think he’s ‘special’ because of his 2014?
Anderson had two games against Oakland within his eight game, late-season splash as the main guy in 2014—they were both blowout-jokes of a game…and CJA posted 6.8 yards per carry against them. In his other six games as a ‘starter’, he had a very human 4.3 yards per carry.
He blew up the lowly ranked Kansas City run defense, and produced wonderfully against other ‘top-10 most rush yards allowed teams’ from 2014: Miami and San Diego. He averaged 140.0 yards per game rushing against this bottom-10 run defense trio (and 4.7 ypc). He also took a whopping 29.3 carries per game against them.
Here’s a bold prediction: I GUARANTEE…if C.J. Anderson averages 29+ carries per game in a full-season for 2015, he will lead the league in rushing and be a #1 Fantasy RB.
…unless the 29+ carries are against tougher run defenses.
When CJA ran into the stronger run defenses like the Rams and Bills last year: 15.0 carries for 43.5 yards rushing (2.9 yards per carry).
C.J. Anderson accomplished, late last season, kinda what Knowshon Moreno did in 2013, and kinda what Montee Ball would do if given the chance, or kinda what Ronnie Hillman did in 2014 with his chance…or what most every decent starting or backup RB in the NFL would do if given the same workload opportunity behind Peyton. Anderson pounded weaker defenses, and struggled some against tougher ones. He got a ton of carries in some of his games, racked numbers on the ground and in the air in a Peyton-led offense, got a lot of juicy PPR screen passes, struggled running the ball some against tougher defenses, but got the FF-lucrative short-TD carries. C.J. Anderson hit the perfect storm…just like Knowshon Moreno did in 2013.
There is no arguing Anderson ‘belongs’ in the NFL. The argument is—will he be the exclusive RB for Denver in 2015 over the highly drafted Montee Ball, and differently talented Ronnie Hillman?
If you are wondering whether C.J. Anderson has the goods to be a Fantasy star after I watched a bunch of his 2014 touches…I say: “Yes.” He’s a solid NFL talent in a FF-beautiful situation.
If you are wondering whether CJA is worth drafting highly for Fantasy 2015? I can give you my opinion, but I don’t know the touch-count any more than you. I was right about Knowshon Moreno in 2013, but I may be wrong here. I could see Anderson as the #1 RB, I could see him as the #3 RB coming out of training camp. You have three talented RBs in Denver—pick one. If you’re right, it will be FF-awesome.
To me, for the FF-redraft price—I say, “Why invite this controversy and consternation with Anderson?” You’ve seen it a bunch of times in the NFL. Let’s say Anderson starts the season, and he fumbles on his 1st or 2nd series in a key spot, and they send in Ball to take some carries, and he does what McGahee…Moreno…Hillman…Anderson have all done behind Peyton, and Montee has a great performance spurt. What then? The coaches go right back to Anderson because he’s a Denver institution now?
The Broncos had CJA behind Juwan Thompson last year in the 1st-half of the 2014 season. There were rumors CJA might get cut at various points of 2014. Now, he’s an untouchable RB like Adrian Peterson? If Adrian Peterson fumbles 2-3 times on his opening-day touches in 2015…he’ll get another raise. If C.J. Anderson fumbles during the first drive on opening day…he might be 2015’sStevan Ridley. I’m not saying he will, I’m just noting that Anderson doesn’t have that ‘status’ or elite talent-level that matches his current ADP, to me…he’s not an institution, and he has very talented RBs right behind him. There is risk here.
If Anderson takes 250+ carries and sees 80+ targets in 2015, he’ll be a Fantasy-god. I saw the tape. He’s fine. Peyton boosts. It works. The question is: “Will he get those touches?”–and how much are you willing to bet on it?
Talent-wise, after this study, C.J. Anderson could start for any NFL team in need…or be their multi-year backup.