C.J. Anderson signed with Detroit this offseason, and he's expected to share touches with Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick. Based on Riddick's role in the passing game, Anderson will likely be No. 2 on the depth chart behind Johnson. Now, which Anderson should you expect to see this season? The one who failed to make an impact with Carolina at the start of last year, which eventually led to his release? Or the one who starred with the Rams at the end of last season, including a combined 47 PPR points in two games without Todd Gurley in the regular season? Johnson should lead the Lions in touches, but he missed the final six games of the season last year with a knee injury. Anderson should have the chance for a decent amount of work, and he's worth a late-round pick in all formats.
Anderson promised he will be in better shape for 2019 with the Lions, Marlowe Atler of The Detroit Free Press reports. Anderson admits he played at around 235 pounds late last season with the Rams, but the extra weight didn't prevent him from piling up 488 rushing yards and four touchdowns in five games (including playoffs). He did slow down during the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl, averaging just 2.9 yards on 23 carries. Signed to a one-year contract Monday, the 28-year-old likely will return to his listed weight of 225 pounds in preparation for a full season in the Detroit backfield alongside Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner. While Johnson is a clear favorite to handle the lead role, coach Matt Patricia has left no doubt about his preference for using a committee. There's been some chatter that Riddick could be released to clear out $3.7 million in cap space and leave more snaps for Johnson/Anderson.
Anderson signed a one-year contract with the Lions on Monday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Anderson began the 2018 season in Carolina, where he rushed for only 104 yards in nine games before he was released. His stock quickly rose once the Rams signed him in December as a replacement for Malcolm Brown (clavicle). With Todd Gurley tending to a knee injury, Anderson took 43 carries for 299 yards (7.0 YPC) and two touchdowns in two regular-season games, and 46 carries for 189 yards (4.1 YPC) and two touchdowns in three playoff games. The exact terms of Anderson's deal with the Lions haven't been disclosed, but he'll get a chance to produce in 2019 and hit free agency once again next offseason. The Lions likely intend to take a committee approach to the backfield, with Kerryon Johnson leading the way while Anderson, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner compete for snaps. There is some chance Riddick could be released in a move that would clear out $3.7 million in 2019 cap space (per overthecap.com).
Anderson suggested Friday on Twitter that he doesn't expect to re-sign with the Rams. While it isn't clear the two events are related, Anderson's tweet was posted about an hour after Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Rams will match Detroit's two-year, $3.25 million offer sheet for running back Malcolm Brown, who missed Weeks 14-17 and all of the playoffs after he suffered a broken clavicle in early December. His injury opened the door for the Rams to sign Anderson, who then took over the starting gig when Todd Gurley (knee) suffered an injury of his own. Anderson's strong performance in December theoretically boosted his value, but Friday's string of tweets suggest he's frustrated with an inability to find a secure workload as a free agent. The 28-year-old running back points out that he's never had the chance to handle a lead role without sharing a significant portion of carries with a younger player. Anderson should't have too much trouble drumming up interest, but he'll likely have to settle for a backup role and/or another opportunity to earn his snaps.
Anderson (illness) practiced in full Friday and didn't have a designation on the Rams' injury report, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com reports. Anderson made a sudden appearance on Thursday's estimated report as a non-participant due to an illness, but it merely was a temporary concern. He now will prepare in earnest for Super Bowl LIII against the Patriots, who will attempt to stop the Rams' two-headed backfield monster of Anderson and Todd Gurley. While Anderson was leaned on more than Gurley in the team's comeback victory in the NFC Championship Game, it wouldn't surprise if roles were reversed due to letter's standing as one of football's highest-paid running backs.
Anderson didn't practice Thursday due to an illness. Fortunately, Anderson has fallen ill during the lull before the Super Bowl. He's fared quite well since joining the Rams in late December, compiling 488 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in four games. In two postseason outings with Todd Gurley back in action, Anderson has superseded the former at times, including picking up 37 snaps on offense to Gurley's 32 in the NFC Championship Game. Whether that's the case in the Super Bowl remains to be seen, but the Rams may keep both consistently involved, especially if Anderson's illness becomes a long-term concern.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/15||Los Angeles Chargers||24||20.00|
|4||09/29||Kansas City Chiefs||31||23.78|
|6||10/15||@Green Bay Packers||19||18.13|
|8||10/27||New York Giants||23||19.88|
|15||12/15||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||21.25|
|17||12/29||Green Bay Packers||19||18.13|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||141||616||3||16||131||1||98|