Rookie running back Devontae Booker has been one of the more polarizing draft prospects at the position this offseason. But there's good reason to believe he could be fantasy relevant this season and maybe, just maybe, snatch the starting position away from current Denver back, C.J. Anderson. Anderson was handed the keys to Denver's offense last season after going on a tear at the end of the 2014 season, but he didn't exactly flourish in his new role.
He finished the year with 720 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns to go along with 25 catches for 183 yards and zero receiving touchdowns. He ended up ranking 31st overall among running backs in fantasy points for standard scoring. Some argue Anderson's struggles were a result of injury, and they have some merit. Anderson battled foot injuries early in the season which slowed his progress. In each of his first 3 games, he didn't eclipse more than 30 yards rushing.
To be fair, Anderson was saddled with tough matchups against daunting run defenses such as Baltimore, Kansas City, and Detroit to start the season. But if you want to be considered a true feature back in your offense, you have to be effective against good defenses. So Anderson's subpar performances against good teams makes you wonder if he can be a true feature back in the offense. His injuries in the early stages of the season also don't bode well for his durability.
Some argue that Anderson played his best football down the stretch last season, and they're right. Anderson scored four of his five total touchdowns in the last five games of the season. However, he needed overtime against New England to post his only multiple touchdown game of the season.
Being a true feature back that can handle 15-20 carries per game is a grueling task that few, if any, running backs can effectively handle each week. Anderson showed last season that he can play well in spurts, but might not be the back Denver designates as its bell cow unless he can consistently perform at the level he showed near the end of the season.
Since durability and consistency concerns are there with Anderson, it's a good idea to draft Booker. Booker brings the vision and cutting ability needed in Gary Kubiak's zone-blocking offense, and he also has great receiving ability out of the backfield. Denver will be a more run-heavy offense this season since Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch will be vying for snaps at quarterback.
Lynch is a rookie and will go through his growing pains, while Sanchez has struggled as a starter and likely won't be relied upon as the team's primary source of offense. Look for Booker in the last few rounds of your draft for a chance at some solid production if Anderson is slow out of the gate—or gets hurt.