CJ Anderson will be an upgrade over what we’ve seen out of Jonathan Stewart over the past couple of years for the Panthers. Anderson’s always been a talented back who had his share of injury problems. He finally stayed healthy as the lead back in a timeshare last season in Denver and surpassed 1000 yards rushing. Christian McCaffrey will remain the preferred back in the passing game, and he did improve in the run game over the second half of the season, but the Panthers still want to run the ball with a bigger back, and Anderson should be able to shoulder that load.
There was a season in Stewart’s career where he was able to catch passes, but that completely came to a halt in recent years. With Anderson being more than capable in the passing game, we shouldn’t have a stretch of eight games with zero catches like Stewart had at one point last season. He should be considered a receiver out of the backfield when he’s in, so defenses won’t be able to stack the box as much as they did when Stewart made it predictable. Running the ball wasn’t going too well either; he averaged 3.8 and 3.4 yards per carry over the last two seasons, respectively.
McCaffrey is obviously the guy to own in that backfield, but with the amount of times the Panthers run the ball, Anderson should be able to rack up at least 200 carries on the safe side, but I would project 230+ if he stays healthy, and that’s not including the touches he should get in the passing game. If they need someone on the goal line, Anderson will probably be the guy on the field over McCaffrey. Anderson was able to surpass 1000 yards on 247 carries last season; how often can we get a potential 1000 yard back at the end of 8th or beginning of 9th round who has a role solidified? The backs going around him: Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Ty Montgomery, Nick Chubb, Corey Clement. Arguments can be made for a couple of these guys over Anderson in PPR, but in non-PPR Anderson would probably be my guy for some depth.
Would you choose Anderson for some RB depth or would you rather shoot for upside in the back of the 8th round? Let me know!