On one front, former Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson joining the Carolina Panthers feels like a perfect fit. Following the release of its all-time leading rusher, Jonathan Stewart, Carolina avoided the position in the draft and added the 27-year-old Anderson, fresh off of his best showing as a pro.
In 2017, he rushed for 1,007 yards and four scores on 245 attempts with the Broncos. It was Anderson’s only season completing a 16-game slate. The Panthers gave Stewart 198 handles in 15 appearances a year ago. This offseason brought veteran offensive coordinator Norv Turner to Carolina as the playcaller, and his commitment to the ground game is well-documented.
Stewart was a phenomenal blocker in pass protection, which normally would be missed, but Anderson actually rates higher — in fact, according to Pro Football Focus, no one was better in ’17.
As said, there’s plenty to like about this union. Anderson is hungry to prove last year wasn’t a fluke, and Carolina cannot rely exclusively on second-year back Christian McCaffrey. While head coach Ron Rivera recently noted the Stanford standout will see a heavy workload, it is difficult to envision Anderson not seeing the bulk of the tough-yardage situations. He’s a bowling ball with excellent foot drive — ideal traits around the end zone.
Now, the bad: Carolina lost All-Pro offensive guard Andrew Norwell in the offseason, and Cam Newton is a threat to steal touchdown chances every week. The Panthers improved the aerial personnel, and for as much as Norv loves him some ground-n-pound, he has an affinity for downfield strikes. McCaffrey is as dangerous of a receiver from the backfield as anyone in football. Finally, gamers could be done a disservice to ignore Anderson’s lengthy injury history. One healthy season in five years is troubling.
Fantasy football outlook
Anderson indeed offers a hint of upside, especially at his going rate of the 12th round. Expect this ADP to rise in the coming months. At that price, he’s a reasonable risk-reward gamble. However, CJA comes with a definitive bust factor, given his track record, the weapons around him to vulture looks, and a fantasy class filled with worthy gambles.
Anderson plays second fiddle to McCaffrey, especially on passing downs — where the former Bronco is no slouch in his own right. Barring a path to increased action, his limited role will make regular fantasy utility difficult. Anderson is a fine roster-filling RB4 or weaker No. 3, while having more worth in standard scoring.