C.J. Anderson nearly left the Broncos this offseason after the Dolphins signed him to a four-year, $18 million offer sheet as a restricted free agent. But Denver matched the deal, and Anderson will return as the starter even though Ronnie Hillman is still on the roster and the Broncos drafted rookie Devontae Booker in the fourth round. Anderson was expected to be a dominant Fantasy running back last season, but he got off to a slow start due to ankle and toe injuries. But he closed the year on a high note, and Fantasy owners are hoping he plays at that level all season long. His final stats were 152 carries for 720 yards and five touchdowns and 25 catches for 183 yards, but he had one game with double digits in Fantasy points in a standard league in his first 10 outings. Then he closed the year with double digits in Fantasy points in three of his final five games, and he also ran well in the playoffs. We would have liked it if Hillman wasn't brought back as a free agent or Booker wasn't added, but Anderson should open the season as the starter and be the catalyst on offense with Peyton Manning now retired. We recommend drafting Anderson as a high-end No. 2 running back as early as Round 4 in the majority of leagues.
Anderson believes that the team's increased use of fullbacks this offseason portend a run-heavy offense in 2016, ESPN reports. Head coach Gary Kubiak's preference for running an offense predicated on the rushing attack has never been in doubt since his first stint in Mile High. Given the Broncos' question marks in the quarterback room, which features the ho-hum Mark Sanchez and two youngsters who have yet to attempt an NFL pass, leaning on the running game and defense seems to be a sound strategy. The question is not if Denver will run, it's who will run. Arian Foster ranked among the top six in the league in attempts three straight years under Kubiak in Houston and Anderson might see himself filling a similar role. Though Anderson might be thinner in the midsection and thicker in the wallet than in years past - he has yet to put together a complete season. Until he does, both last year's leading rusher Ronnie Hillman and fourth-round pick Devontae Booker pose threats to Anderson's bounty.
Anderson weighs just over 220 pounds early this offseason after arriving to offseason activities at 240 pounds last season, ESPN reports. The stocky running back started slow in 2015, only to become the most effective part of Denver's offense by the playoffs. A lighter, quicker Anderson could bode well for a faster start, but he'll also be facing stiffer competition. Last year's leading rusher, Ronnie Hillman, returns and fourth-round pick Devontae Booker appears perfectly made for Denver's one-cut scheme. Anderson should see more consistent production in 2016, but he is almost certain to share plenty of carries.
Devontae Booker (knee), who was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, could push Anderson and Ronnie Hillman for playing time, ESPN reports. Widely viewed as one of the three or four best running backs in his class, the 23-year-old Booker fell to Denver in the fourth round, perhaps because of concerns regarding his knee and age. Now three months removed from surgery to repair a torn meniscus, Booker should be ready for the start of training camp, where he'll likely kick things off as the third or fourth running back on the depth chart. The rookie should at least have a shot to compete for a role, but Anderson remains the clear favorite for lead-back duties, having signed a four-year, $18 million contract this offseason. Ronnie Hillman should also be in the mix for touches, as the Broncos may need to lean heavily on their running game.
The Broncos told Anderson that they are matching Miami's offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. The Broncos clearly made a mistake when they gave Anderson an original-round tender instead of a second-round tender, as the latter cost just $882,000 more and almost certainly would have dissuaded other teams from signing him to an offer sheet. Now, the Broncos will match Miami's four-year, $18 million offer, leaving little doubt that they intend for Anderson to lead the backfield in 2016. Ronnie Hillman, who split work with Anderson for the majority of 2015, is an unrestricted free agent and remains unsigned.
The Dolphins have signed Anderson to an offer sheet, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports. Anderson's offer sheet with the Dolphins is reportedly a four-year deal worth $18 million. The Broncos, who continue to take offseason personnel hits, now have five days to match Miami's offer or lose Anderson. Meanwhile, fellow running back Ronnie Hillman is eligible to leave the Broncos as an unrestricted free agent.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/02||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||15||16.88|
|6||10/14||@San Diego Chargers||30||21.50|
|8||10/30||San Diego Chargers||30||21.50|
|10||11/13||@New Orleans Saints||31||22.38|
|12||11/27||Kansas City Chiefs||4||13.44|
|15||12/18||New England Patriots||5||14.00|
|16||12/26||@Kansas City Chiefs||4||13.44|
|3 Year Avg||113||536||4||20||169||1||99|