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A Closer Look at C.J. Anderson

Like last year, C.J. Anderson has started off hot. Through Week 6, he averages 12.7 points a game (PPR) and has been a great value for fantasy owners.

But last week, things didn’t go well. Playing against the Giants, who have been terrible lately, C.J. Anderson was expected to have a massive game. That wasn’t the case. The Broncos were totally unprepared for the Giants, and quickly lost control of the game.

Anderson ended up with nine carries for only 17 yards. Ouch.

Meanwhile Jamaal Charles had five carries for 19 yards, and Devontae Booker had one carry for two yards. This wasn’t impressive, but those carries still impact Anderson.

So, what happened? Why didn’t Anderson produce? Let’s break it down.

Game Flow

The major hindrance to Anderson’s production was game flow. By halftime, the Broncos were losing 17-3, which automatically put them in catch-up mode. In the entire second half, Anderson only had three carries. THREE. The Broncos barely ran the ball in the second half, opting to sling it in hopes they could stage a comeback.

When the Broncos are losing or not in control of the game, they seem to ditch Anderson and try everything else. They pass the ball instead, or hand it off to Charles.

In fact, game flow is probably the biggest problem for Anderson. Take a look at these stats:

  • In the Broncos’ three wins, Anderson has averaged 24.3 touches per game and 118 yards.

  • In their two losses, he’s averaged 9.5 touches and only 30 yards.

Return of Booker

Week 6 against the Giants also featured the return of Devontae Booker. If you paid attention to the Broncos backfield last year, Booker was the receiving back before Anderson got hurt. Now, it looks like we’re returning to the same format.

Last week, Booker had four catches for 78 yards. In comparison, Anderson had zero catches.

Before Booker returned, Anderson had at least one catch in every game.

More Jamaal!

Earlier today, Broncos coach Vance Joseph stated that the plan is to get Jamaal Charles more and more touches, which doesn’t bode well for Anderson.

Heath Cummings tweeted out this stat: “Jamaal Charles has forced 11 missed tackles on 38 carries. C.J. Anderson has forced 13 on 82.”

Charles has looked good with his limited snaps, but it remains to be seen if an increased workload would yield the same results. While Charles is a legend, he is 30 years old and has had multiple knee surgeries.

Looking Ahead

The future for Anderson is foggy. While he is the lead running back and the best running back on the team, the coaches have made it clear that Charles and Booker will both be utilized. With Booker, Anderson’s receptions are bound to remain limited.

Honestly, the only time I’m going to feel confident starting Anderson is when the Broncos are expected to win. Game flow has a huge impact on his usage, and even though he is the most talented back they have, the Broncos have shown they won’t rely on him if they start to get behind.

For more fantasy football advice, check out our podcast, starts and sits, and weekly rankings.

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