Should C.J. Anderson be your first fantasy pick?

Mike Tagliere tells you why he believes that C.J. Anderson is about as safe as they come in the first round of 2015 fantasy football drafts.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

Should C.J. Anderson be your first fantasy pick?


Despite starting just eight games in 2014, C.J. Anderson finished as the RB11 in standard leagues. He finished in front of guys like LeSean McCoy and Alfred Morris, who had played and started in all 16 games.

Heading into fantasy football drafts, there are a lot of questions as to who you should take with your first-round pick. There hasn’t been a draft in recent memory that has so many different options and opinions.

You could go with Le’Veon Bell, who is suspended for the first two games. You can go with Adrian Peterson, who is coming off a year away from the game. Another option is Jamaal Charles, who has seen his rushing production decline the last few years. Or you could even go an entirely different route, and take Antonio Brown because he is going to consistently produce.

Or you can take Anderson, who I believe has the highest floor at the running back position. Does he offer enough upside for you to take him with your first pick?

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Mike Tagliere is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy. He's ranked as a top-six fantasy football expert twice over the last four years by FantasyPros.com.

  • Snowman

    Awesome article!! Love the elusive ratings and FPPO. You sold me on CJ. Where can I find last years elusive ratings and FPPO??

    • Mike Tagliere

      Thanks buddy, you can find them in the Premium Statistics. You’re able to go all the way back to 2007 as well, if you care about historic numbers.

  • B

    What about Juwan thompson being a goal line vulture?

    • Mike Tagliere

      This made my day!

      • B again

        In all seriousness though can you provide a rebuttal to that? The only reason I even ask is because it was actually on PFF that I read about Juwan being a threat near the goal line. You don’t see Anderson losing goal line work to Juwan, or even Ball or Hillman for that matter? I appreciate it, and thanks for writing.

        • Mike Tagliere

          Yeah, Anderson was also one of the best in the league at the goal line. Ball would be the only real threat, and I don’t think he is on Andersons level of talent. Kubiak has never switched out backs at the goal line and neither has Manning. I wouldn’t worry about this, as there are other backs with a lot worse question marks. Thanks for reading man, appreciate the support! If you ever have any questions, ask me over on Twitter @MikeTagliereNFL

          • James Cameron

            I love the article and agree with most of your points. I personally would take him at 6, ahead of lynch and behind the other 4 RBs and Brown. My only issue is right here, where you say in the article that Forsett was lifted for goal line backs last year and then here you say that Kubiak has never switched out backs on the goal line.

          • Mike Tagliere

            I think that had more to do with his size, and is an outlier compared to Kubiak’s history with backs. Forsett still had eight rushing scores, while the other backs combined for six.I understand your logic, and appreciate the feedback, but I am not concerned about him losing goal line work considering how good he was there last year.

          • James Cameron

            I definitely tend to agree with you, was just making sure I read it right. Forsett is a guy I expect to fall off. Kubiak is a king maker at RB, and Forsett was a journeyman back-up before they met.

  • DEV00100000

    Here is the real question, if you have a top 3 pick… do you pass on Adrian Peterson, Leveon Bell, Marshawn Lynch, or Eddie Lacy to take Anderson? I have the 3rd pick, so usually I have my choice between 2 of those guys, and I’ve always had CJ in the back of my mind but thought I was picking too high to seriously consider him — although I know it’s a real possibility that he could be the #1 back drafted in 2016 because of his potential. I don’t want to miss on that, but at the same time, at #3, is it really worth finding out?

    • http://www.unreasonablydangerousonionrings.com/ Moralltach

      According to last year’s stats, maybe. I looked at RBs who were on the field for more than 60% of their team’s snaps (the real bell-cows). Only Murray (0.46) and Lynch (0.46) had a higher PPO than Anderson, and every indication is that he’ll be the bell-cow in Denver this year.

      • Mike Tagliere

        You sir, are correct. He is also at the prime age for a running back with basically no miles.

        • Timothy McCaul

          Great article Mike…I won last year and pick at the corner and must keep 1…DT, Anderson, Lacy or Hill…I will prob keep a RB and doubt the ones I don’t keep will make it back to me…advise?

          • Mike Tagliere

            Thank you, sir. You know it’s Anderson for me!

          • Timothy McCaul

            Thanks!

    • Mike Tagliere

      I would take Peterson before him, for what it’s worth. Bell is also someone I would consider, and wouldn’t blame you for taking him there either. But after those two, Anderson is the guy for me. It blows my mind that he is being drafted in the second round of some leagues. Thanks for reading!

      • DEV00100000

        Yeah… that would be a miracle if he lasted until my 2nd pick, but I doubt it. It’s either 3rd overall or nothing!

  • Nick Jordan

    After the decimation of their offensive line in the offseason I don’t see how you can say he has the highest floor.

    Yes, the Denver passing game will keep opposing safeties away from the LOS, but the offensive line has to win against the defensive front seven. Otherwise C.J. is going to spend all season having to make defenders miss to even get out of the backfield.

    I would say Eddie Lacy definitely has a higher floor, and cases could be made for Le’Veon and Adrian Peterson as well.

    • Mike Tagliere

      I wouldn’t say decimation. The Broncos ranked 20th in the league for run blocking last year according to our rankings, so it’s not like they were an elite run blocking unit to begin with. You can argue the point about Lacy, sure. But I would say that I am concerned about his concussion history. If he were to get one, I’m positive he would miss at least two games if not more. Rock solid first round pick however, but don’t think he has the upside of Anderson. I would be okay with taking Peterson and Bell over him, but both of those guys do come with risk as well. Peterson has been away from the game for over a year, and is now 30 years old. Bell is obviously suspended the first two games, and if he screws up again, he will get a large suspension. Thank you for reading, as well as your input. I have seen CJA go in the second round, which is just nuts to me. That is why I felt it necessary to write this article.

      • Nick Jordan

        They lost two of the top 25 rated run-blocking guards in Franklin and Ramirez, and also lost Clady. They’re now starting rookies at LT and LG, and a practice squad C who has never played a regular season snap. That’s decimation.

        I like CJ as a player, but I think this is a serious situation that actually caps his upside. Gary Kubiak magic or not, I still think the Broncos will pay the price for their lack of talent/experience up front.

        You’re welcome sir I enjoy the discussion :)

  • Kasey Carter

    Great discussion! However, I’m stuck between grabbing Anderson or Brown at 6 spot in 10 man PPR league. Advice?

    • Mike Tagliere

      Hi Kasey, I can understand the predicament that you are in. If Brown is there, I would not blame you for going that route in a PPR. The man is gold in PPR formats. Being at the six spot, you can still likely get a top 10 RB in the second round. Let me know if you have any more questions @MikeTagliereNFL, and thank you for reading!

  • Marc Salazar

    I have pick 2 in my draft this year and I’m taking CJ. He’s 24, plays with Peyton and is the undisputed lead back. He is also Manning’s #2 target in the passing game and a top blocking back. He won’t come off the field much at all. Yes he has a small sample size but his short season mimics LT’s dominate performances. There is no such thing as taking a guy too high in the first round. There is either getting your pick correct or incorrect and to me he’s as safe as they come. A lock to finish in the top 5 with a ceiling of the best RB season in recent memory.

    • Mike Tagliere

      You got it. I won’t ever question someone for the pick they take, but rather try and understand it. There is no reason anyone should question you taking CJ in the first round. Thanks for the comment, appreciate it.

  • TrapMan

    Hey Man – Cut it out – I have been getting CJ anywhere from 4th to the 14th pick, now with articles like this, well, it brings positive attention to him, which moves him up. I loved the beat reporter statements about him as I thought it would keep him lower. In all seriousness I have CJ as my #2 -3 back overall, just about like you do. Great article, keep up the great work!

    • Mike Tagliere

      Thanks TrapMan, I really do appreciate it! Lucky for you, PFF Gold isn’t free, and you have the edge because of that. You keep reading, I will keep writing. Hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions throughout the season. @MikeTagliereNFL

  • Ryan

    Here’s my situation. I’m in a keeper league where we can keep up to 4 guys. I have Rodgers, Julio jones, demarius Thomas, aj green and cj. I feel like I gotta keep cj. So what iof the three receivers would you drop?

    • NAJ

      Either Rodgers or AJ Green because of Dalton. With no Julius Thomas, Demaryius will get more targets. Julio will beast this year. Potentially Rodgers because there should be plenty of solid QB’s around but depends on size of league and who would be available

    • Mike Tagliere

      Do you lose a certain round for keeping them? Or everyone just keeps 4 players? If you don’t lose a specified round and they all cost the same, I would actually drop Rodgers. If you absolutely didn’t want to do that, drop Green.

  • Ryan

    We’ve kept 1 player a year the last four years. This is the last year then the slate gets cleaned. I’ve spent a lot of bad seasons picking these guys up piece by piece and finally won it this year. Now I have by far the best selection of keepers that really put me in the drivers seat again to repeat.

  • brian hover

    I have the 6th pick in a standard draft. Would you take CJ Anderson or Antonio Brown with the 6th pick assuming AP, Leveon, Marshawn, Jamaal, and Lacy go first 5? It is a 12 team league BTW.

    • Mike Tagliere

      I would be taking Anderson over Brown. I start thinking about WR after the top six RB’s are gone. Get a top eight WR when it comes back in the 2nd round.

  • eric sosa

    Ok so last year I got 2nd place in my league. I had C.J Anderson and Le’veon bell but I had AWFUL WR’s. My 2 beasts RB’s are what got me to the superbowl but my horrible WR’s are why I lost in the end. My strategy this year is to go WR-WR in the first 2 rounds because I can grab frank gore, melvin gordon, Alfred morris, in the 3rd and 4th and Alfred blue and ameer Abdullah in the 5th or 6th. To me, getting 2 top WR’s, and a solid 3rd WR along with 2 solid RB’s is the way to go this year to win it all. Especially since RB’s get hurt way more often than WRs, example from last year, Monte Ball, jamaal charles, peterson didn’t get hurt but whoever picked him in the first round crashed and burned. Eddie lacy was a huge disappointment last year too. Any thoughts?

    • eric sosa

      When i say WR-WR, I mean Antonio brown/Jordy nelson or Dez bryant/O’Dell Beckham Jr, or Demaryus Thomas/Julio Jones

      • WhoDat

        You won last year b/c you were fortunate enough to draft the two biggest sleeper RBs. The chances of you being able to draft rb’s in the 4th-6th rd and being able to get top 5 productions out of them the way you did with Bell and CJ is slim to none unless you are just that good and can strike gold twice.

        • eric sosa

          I definitely get what you’re saying. My thought process is, I didn’t win last year. I lost the superbowl, and I lost because my WRs were horrible, all 3 starters were garbage. So this year I was planning on grabbing top WRs 1st and 2nd round then focusing on RBs in rounds 3 and 4. I can get melvin gordon, lamar miller, Jonathan stewart, Frank gore, Andre ellington, and/or TJ Yeldon in rounds 3 and 4. I can also grab ameer Abdullah or Alfred blue in the 6th. The RB stable is steep this year, the WR stock, not so much. That’s my thought process

    • Mike Tagliere

      What I would say is never go into a draft thinking “I am going to go WR/WR or RB/RB.” Instead, put your players into tiers. I know last year may have screwed you taking a running back first, but you need to play the odds. Odds are that only one out of Gore, Gordon, Morris will actually work out, because there is a significant drop off after the top 14 backs. Any strategy can work if you pick the correct players. What we need to do is put ourselves into the situation with the best odds.

  • GT

    i got 4 top players on my team but can only keep two, In my league Rbs are hard to come by and thats why i want to keep CJ but im stuck on who i should keep. So besides CJ i have Antonio Brown, Demariyus Thomas and Jimmy Graham. I know there arent alot of good TE’s that can put up points like Graham so not sure what to do. Any suggestions?

  • angry monkey

    so this ended up being the stupidest prediction for 2015

  • Lee

    sweet pick Mike, way to go buddy

  • James Murphy

    If Rawls is healthy and going this pre-season, would you put him up there with CJ? How would you compare the 2 as players? Close in talent? Like one better than the other? I’m going to be hesitant about CJ if they resign Hillman which looks like it’s in the works. I don’t trust Kubiak to give CJ the volume. He’s got an injury history, and Kubiak never gave him the bulk of the carries after the bye when CJ clearly was the better back.