Rookie third-round pick Royce Freeman will compete with Booker for the lead back role, according to the team's official site.
The Broncos jettisoned C.J. Anderson this offseason, leaving Booker as the elder statesman in the running back room. Booker should still be the favorite for the lead job given his experience, but with just 3.6 yards per carry in two years, the Broncos sought reinforcements. Freeman will be the headliner, but the Broncos also added Arkansas' David Williams in the seventh round and local product Phillip Lindsay in undrafted free agency. That's 41-touchdowns worth of 2017 production that will be pushing Booker this offseason. It will be sink or swim for the 2016 fourth-round pick.
Booker was seen as a steal in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, a player Denver reportedly considered in the first two rounds that was perfect for then-head coach Gary Kubiak's one-cut scheme. The results haven't been there. In his nine career games with at least 10 carries, he's averaged four yards per carry just twice -- both games came in 2016. A wrist injury set Booker's sophomore season back and it is possible that he just needs a full offseason and more consistent opportunities to turn the corner. If not, look for De'Angelo Henderson and a likely Day 3 pick to apply some pressure.
Booker carried the ball 79 times in 2017 for 299 yards and a touchdown and added 275 yards on 30 catches in 2017.
The numbers look like Booker took a step back in 2017, but that's mostly because he was the lead back for much of 2016 with C.J. Anderson on injured reserve and Anderson came back to have a career-best year in 2017. Booker, in more limited opportunities, averaged almost a full yard more per touch, 5.27 yards to 4.28 yards, in 2017 as compared to his rookie year. There's still work to be done and the stats don't live up to some of the highlights Booker was able to put up this season. The Broncos recently fired longtime running backs coach Eric Studesville in what can be seen as an effort to better develop the team's young stable. Denver will certainly add options in the offseason, but with C.J. Anderson quite possibly out the door, Booker will likely be Denver's elder statesman in the backfield and the favorite to carry the load in 2018.
Booke ran for 47 yards on eight carries and picked up another 24 yards on five catches during Sunday's 27-11 loss in Washington. He fumbled during the contest.
The 71 total yards were Booker's second-highest tally of the year. Booker's lone score of the season came in Week 8 against the Broncos' season-finale opponent, the Chiefs, but Denver's backfield is fairly complex heading into Week 17. On one hand, head coach Vance Joseph has talked up the importance of C.J. Anderson finishing the year with 1,000 yards, a sum he is 54 yards shy of. On the other, Booker and rookie De'Angelo Henderson are likely the future at the position for Denver. Anderson will likely get the bulk of the early carries, but Booker seems likely to reach double-digit touches for the fourth straight week, especially if the Broncos go run-heavy with Paxton Lynch at quarterback.
Booker rushed 11 times for 39 yards, brought in his only target for 10 yards and returned one kickoff for 23 yards in Thursday's 25-13 win over the Colts.
Booker played a diversified role, but he still lagged as a distant second behind C.J. Anderson for work in the ground game. The second-year back has been firmly slotted into a complementary role over the last four games, and given Anderson's success Thursday, that doesn't appear likely to change over the season's final pair of contests. The 25-year-old offers some upside through his work in the passing game as well, but his volume remains too scant to trust in the fantasy postseason.
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|