Questions hang like swords over the Denver Broncos, but there’s one thing fans can be sure of going into the 2015 NFL season: C.J. Anderson is going to set the league on fire.
Anderson emerged in the latter half of 2014, putting up 849 yards despite only starting in seven games. He scored eight times. He put up more than 150 yards in two games and was sent to the Pro Bowl. All this from a back who was undrafted the year before, and who only had 38 total yards in 2013.
Most memorably, Anderson fought desperately for a first down in the team’s only playoff game against the Colts. Entrusted with the ball on fourth down, he was hit multiple times in the backfield while Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas entirely failed to block for him, but he shook off both tackles and surged forward to keep Denver’s hopes briefly alive.
Guts, grit and power. That’s C.J. Anderson. The Broncos lost that game, but he became a fan favorite in that moment, and he’s all but locked into the starting job for 2015.
Anderson is a flawless fit for the Zone Blocking System that Gary Kubiak will use in Denver. He’s quick on his feet, with good vision, so he can make that all-important cutback move, slashing through the hole as it opens up. He has the power to run downhill and the will to fight through tackles, and his combination of strength and speed is exactly what the ZBS caters to so well.
Read the line. Plant your foot. Punch the ball through and sprint for the end zone.
Plus, Anderson did that in a John Fox offense. Not that Fox doesn’t run the ball well, but he doesn’t run it like Kubiak. When Kubiak was with the Broncos and winning Super Bowls as an offensive coordinator, he helped develop an unknown back named Terrell Davis.
It’s safe to say that worked out pretty well.
Best of all, it wasn’t a fluke. Yes, Davis was an elite back, but Kubiak’s track record is strong. He helped Steve Slaton put up more than 1,200 yards as a rookie. He helped Arian Foster break 1,600 yards in 2010, going over 1,000 yards multiple times. Last year, after losing Ray Rice, Kubiak took Justin Forsett—whose best season, with 619 yards, was back in 2009—and turned him into a top-five back, with 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ben Tate looked pretty worthless last year, in Cleveland and elsewhere, but he once ran for almost 1,000 yards when he played for Kubiak.
Tate, Forsett, Slaton—none of them are as good as C.J. Anderson, from a raw talent perspective. This is the perfect coach-running back combination, and it’s even better because the offense is littered with elite talent. Teams still have to focus on Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders first and foremost, so Anderson is going to have soft fronts, a system that is seemingly built to allow him to excel, and the chance to break 1,500 yards.
If you’re playing fantasy football, draft him early. If you’re just a Denver Broncos fan, get ready for him to bring you to your feet time and time again.