2015 Shuffle Up: What to do with C.J. Anderson?

With only seven months until draft season kicks in, we better get some rankings out to the people. In this edition, we'll tackle the running backs. 

I'll be shuffling all the major positions out the door, one at a time, just to give us something to talk about. I'm not in any way married to these 2015 ranks or opinions; surely I'll forget many (most) of them by the time pitchers and catchers report, if not sooner. But lists are fun, rankings are fun.

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A few rules: players at the same price are considered even; the dollar values are merely comparison tools and are arrived at unscientifically; and I refuse to rank rookies before the NFL draft. We have to draw the line somewhere.

$34 Le’Veon Bell
$32 DeMarco Murray
$31 Jamaal Charles
$30 Matt Forte
$30 Eddie Lacy
$29 Marshawn Lynch
$27 Arian Foster
$26 LeSean McCoy
$25 C.J. Anderson

For two months, Anderson was an afterthought in the Denver offense. As a third-stringer and an undrafted player to begin with, the second-year back hardly played. Anderson had a mere 21 touches through the first nine weeks of the year.

But when the Ronnie Hillman injury piled on top of the Montee Ball injury, the Broncos had no choice. Anderson had to play. And man, did he go ballistic over the last two months.

Consider what Anderson accomplished from Weeks 10-17, an eight-game sample:

- Anderson led all backs in fantasy points. Only Le'Veon Bell outscored him on a game-by-game basis.

- Only Matt Forte, Bell, and Fred Jackson had more receptions.

- Only DeMarco Murray had more carries. Only Jeremy Hill had more rushing yards. 

- Check out Anderson's weekly Yahoo rank at running back over the final eight weeks: 3rd, 10th, 3rd, 3rd, 4th, 16th, 4th, 1st. This guy won leagues for so many people. 

The efficiency numbers were strong, too. Anderson averaged 4.7 yards a carry, caught 30-of-39 targets. The tape backed him up; he ran inside and outside, secured tough yards and broke some long-distance runs, too. Third dow, no problem. Goal-line, no problem. Heavy workload, no problem.  

Pedigree means something at all positions, but there are plenty of star running backs who were drafted late or not at all. Two months is too long a sample, 192 touches is too much of a sample. Heck, Anderson is too good at too many things. This isn't a case of a running back simply producing because everyone is afraid of his team's passing game; remember, Peyton Manning hasn't been sharp for a couple of months.

I think Anderson is the real deal. I can't wait to watch him in January, and I hope he's on some of my 2015 teams.

$24 Adrian Peterson
$23 Jeremy Hill
$20 Alfred Morris
$20 Lamar Miller
$17 Mark Ingram
$16 Andre Ellington
$16 Joique Bell
$15 Tre Mason
$13 Giovani Bernard
$12 Chris Ivory
$12 Isaiah Crowell
$12 Latavius Murray
$12 Ryan Mathews
$12 Jonathan Stewart

Hill and Bernard basically had the same yards per reception, and Hill had a much better catch rate (27-for-32). It's a shame Bernard is around to complicate Hill's upside, but I'd be shocked if Hill wasn't the primary horse in this backfield next year . . . The Dolphins were careful not to run Miller into the ground – he never had a game with more than 19 carries – but a sneaky floor was also at play. He made it to 11 carries in 15 of 16 games, and he wasn't a total zero in the passing game (38-275-1) . . . The Browns threw to their running backs less than any team last season, and both Crowell and West had limited pass-catching experience in college. Although the last thing fantasy owners want in Cleveland is another three-headed backfield, this team desperately needs to find a pass-catching back, or develop someone in that area. 

$11 Carlos Hyde
$11 Denard Robinson
$11 Devonta Freeman
$10 Shane Vereen
$10 Ahmad Bradshaw
$9 Frank Gore
$9 Rashad Jennings
$9 Reggie Bush
$8 Justin Forsett
$8 Fred Jackson
$8 C.J. Spiller
$8 Dan Herron
$7 Darren Sproles
$7 Terrance West
$7 LeGarrette Blount
$7 Bishop Sankey

Hyde is going to be one of the trendiest breakout picks next year, and I might get on board if the team does something with Frank Gore. But knowing how well Gore takes care of his body, I'm not going to assign him a standard age and workload downgrade. I still think he'll be a useful, and regular, player for someone, probably San Francisco. And Hyde owners might be in for the same type of frustrating waiting game they withstood through his rookie season . . . The Patriots will have plenty of rushing production in a season, but most of their big games are impossible to project ahead of time. And often a big New England game will lead you down the rabbit hole for future weeks, chasing points. I hate to toss out absolutes in our numbers racket, but I don't think it's a bad idea to never draft a New England running back so long as the current regime is running things. Also consider how often the Pats will likely play in prime-time games  those are always trickier calls for fantasy purposes. (If I didn't downgrade the Pats enough for you, keep subtracting their dollar-figures until they're in your no-fly zone.) 

$6 Steven Jackson
$6 Jerick McKinnon
$6 Andre Williams
$5 Trent Richardson
$5 James Starks
$5 Stevan Ridley
$5 Doug Martin
$5 Christine Michael
$5 Knowshon Moreno
$5 Matt Asiata
$5 Roy Helu
$4 Chris Johnson
$4 Branden Oliver
$4 Pierre Thomas
$4 Bernard Pierce
$4 Toby Gerhart
$3 Lorenzo Taliaferro
$3 Ronnie Hillman
$3 Jonas Gray
$3 Kerwynn Williams
$3 Charles Sims
$3 Alfred Blue
$3 Ben Tate
$3 Knile Davis

Asiata basically is this generation's Leroy Hoard, a touchdown gobbler. And hey, he can catch the ball, too. He might wind up being a sneaky (if ugly) deep-league flex option again next year. He was the only Minnesota running back who scored a touchdown last year . . . It's like the fifth Dentist coming around the recommending Trident; the Colts have finally accepted that Richardson can't play – at least, their recent ball distribution suggests that. Herron is a better player, and everyone knows a healthy Bradshaw is, too. It was cute to watch some pundits make excuses for Richardson all through 2013, but mercifully that music has stopped now.  

$2 Theo Riddick
$2 Chris Polk
$2 Bobby Rainey
$2 Lance Dunbar
$2 Robert Turbin
$2 Khiry Robinson
$2 Zac Stacy
$2 Danny Woodhead
$2 Darren McFadden
$2 Ka'Deem Carey
$2 Joseph Randle
$2 Montee Ball
$1 Benny Cunningham
$1 Bryce Brown
$1 Storm Johnson
$1 James White
$1 Kendall Hunter