We love our power backs in the NFL, and our first study of the 2019 NFL Draft season fits that bill and a little bit more.
Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson is an ideal NFL-size back. At 6'0, 224lbs, Anderson shows ability to be a good power runner in the NFL.
For fantasy, he's a back that will get you some nice, steady gains between the tackles.
The ideal conditions for him to be fantasy valuable
First, he must get a decent volume of carries. Anywhere between 12-15 in a game would be enough to have him put up decent fantasy numbers for you.
He lacks true breakaway speed in the open field, so it's unlikely he puts up flash-in-the-pan numbers like some of the quicker NFL backs. Don't get excited when you see him break into the open field. It likely won't be for a touchdown as a fast corner or linebacker can catch him from behind.
However, he has great vision as a runner. In the limited films I saw, he read his blocks well and didn't run outside when the hole was inside. That skill set should keep him from getting on coaches bad side. No Lache Seastrunk here.
Though I must stress, I watched about 10-12 plays of him between two games, which came against Florida Atlantic (2018) and Kansas (2017). I didn't crunch a ton of film on him. Just got the broad strokes.
What else he does well...
He's a hard runner that will be most effective when he can wear defenses down. Defenders will not want to tackle him in the fourth quarter after he's been pounding away. Eventually, he'll bust one for a big gain and that will cement a solid fantasy day for him.
Think Jay Ajayi.
But like Ajayi, Anderson carries a host of injury concerns. He only played one full season in Oklahoma (2017) where he finished with an impressive 1,161 yards on 188 carries and 8 touchdowns. But on the plus side, running backs perform well the fresher they are. So he hasn't put too much mileage on his body in college.
His role as a pass catcher
One of the most underrated qualities of Anderson's game is his catching ability. In his only full season in 2017, he caught 17 balls for 261 yards and 5 touchdowns.
But it wasn't so much as how many he caught. It was the way he caught them.
Anderson showed a dynamic ability to catch passes in the open field. He ran seam routes, wheel routes and drags with effectiveness. These are skills that will definitely translate to the NFL level. For fantasy, he shows potential to be a decent points per reception (PPR) back.
With 9.75 inch hands, Anderson shows ability to cradle the ball softly away from his body. He also adjusts to get up field quickly.
In order to stay in the game on passing downs, Anderson will have to show competence as a pass blocker. He was weak in this area at Oklahoma, and NFL blitzes can be exotic and confusing for the running back. So we will have to wait and see what transpires here. However, runners run the ball at the end of the day so it's important not to make too big a deal about pass protection.
Big picture: Anderson isn't expected to be drafted on Day 1. Rookies drafted on Day 2 or Day 3 typically don't see much playing time in their first season barring injury. We will know more when we find out which team drafts him if he's worth monitoring further.