Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. That could be the motto every C.J. Anderson owner in 2016 may be saying after fantasy owners, myself included, took the “bell cow” RB as early as mid 1st round in last years drafts after the undrafted free agent finished 11th in overall scoring for owners in 2014, amassing 177 fantasy points. Anderson was unheard of until Week 10 against Oakland when he absolutely went off, amassing over 20 points in four of his first five starts including 22 against the silver and black. He took a quick backseat with a 9 fantasy point showing against the Chargers but finished 2014 going right back to where he left off with showings of 19 and 28 fantasy points versus Cincinnati and Oakland, respectively. There’s no doubt that the guy was an absolute blue chip stud. So, what happened in 2015 and will Denver match the offer sheet Miami tendered him or will he reunite with Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase?
How much do we associate a players injuries with how well he plays during the year? Do injuries always dictate the type of year a guy has? For the twenty-four year old, at least on the outside looking in, one could certainly make those types of assumptions. He started the season battling ankle and toe injuries, averaging 2.7 yards per carry through the Week 7 bye. It wasn’t until the week after their layoff against Green Bay that he broke out, compiling over 100 yards on 14 carries en route to a 16 point fantasy day; making the contingent of owners sigh in relief. For fantasy nuts such as myself, Anderson lost his spot on my team well before that. Admittedly so, I have a quick trigger finger. Like many situations though, I was right. C.J. had the juiciest of juicy match ups in week nine against an incredibly suspect Colts rush defense, but when the time came he folded under pressure, carrying the ball a pitiful seven times for 34 yards. I don’t want to hear about the score, because Denver was only down by 10 points heading into the half and coming out, Manning connected with Emmanuel Sanders on a bomb to bring them within three. After the loss in Indianapolis, the third year man went on to post double digit scoring in just three of the final eight games including a week 14 loss at home against the Raiders where he was listed as active, dressed for the game, but didn’t see a single snap. To finish the regular season, he scored 12 and 13 points against Cincinnati and San Diego. Anderson didn’t see any more than 15 carries in a single game all season long as he split time with Ronnie Hillman in a committee that left many fans shaking their heads in disbelief considering Head Coach Gary Kubiak doesn’t have a history of doing that. So what’s the difference between 2014 and 2015 for C.J. Anderson? More than you think.
In 2014 the back out of California was fed the ball up to 32 times (Week 13 v. KC) and over 20 times in another three games. One would argue that John Fox was better for Anderson than Gary Kubiak was. With that type of workload in the mid to end of 2014, there’s no doubt that John Fox’s Denver Broncos were making a more concerted effort to run the ball, especially when you look at the team rushing attempts from 2014 to 2015; 443 to 411 attempts respectively. That’s 32 rushing attempts more two years ago over the course of a 16 game schedule, only 2 per game, yet Anderson had 61 more fantasy points in 2014 and he did it in only nine games. Does a sprained ankle and injured toe really account for that much of a drop in production?
Who was the Offensive Coordinator in 2014 for the Denver Broncos? You guessed it, Adam Gase. If anyone can get anything out of C.J. Anderson in the coaching staff between both teams, it’s Gase. Last year as the OC in Chicago, Gase engineered around multiple injuries to impact players from the QB, WR, and RB positions, yet Jeremy Langford turned into a household name after a week nine breakout 22 fantasy point day against the Chargers. The week after that? A 30-point drubbing against what was thought to be a vaunted St. Louis Rams defense, including 7 catches for 109 yards and a score. My point? Some refer to Adam Gase as the “Quarterback whisperer”, but I’d argue he has an even bigger impact on the RB position. With that said, many owners in leagues all over will be staying away from CJ like a scorned lover turned enemy, quickly rattling off his 2015 statistics; it may mean good things for you. Don’t overpay for him because there’s a young, impressive back in Jay Ajayi that’s waiting in the wings should Denver let C.J. go to Miami and he not live up to expectations. And if he stays in Denver? Don’t go running to buy a ticket on the CJ Anderson train right away. Stay away from him, because Gase won’t be there to hand him the ball 32 times per game. For the sake of us all (and your salary cap) Denver, LET HIM GO!
Average Draft Position if Denver retains C.J. Anderson: 04.11
Average Draft Position if Miami signs C.J. Anderson: 03.08