You’ve made your first three picks in the draft and gotten the studs that will be the cornerstones of your team. Now what? The picks that you make in Rounds 4 to 9 tend to make or break your draft. The mixture of running backs and wide receivers that you piece together to fill out your lineup will vary based on your early round strategy. With most leagues now employing a PPR format to some degree, a lot of owners typically lean heavily on pass-catchers early. However, the teams that are there towards the end of the year in Fantasy are usually the ones with a strong running game. C.J. Anderson (ADP: 45 according to Fantasypros.com) and Ty Montgomery (ADP: 47) are two running backs most owners will have a choice between in the fourth and fifth rounds. Both could be valuable assets to a team, but they excel in different aspects of the game. One back plays in a pass-happy, high-powered offense, the other plays in a conservative offense that leans on the run. Which will be the right fit for you in your draft? Let’s examine the numbers and find out.
C.J. Anderson: ADP 45
C.J. Anderson played hurt for most of his time on the field in 2016, and it showed in his statistical output. He rushed for only 437 yards on the ground and five scores at a paltry pace of 2.4 yards per carry. Put nicely, Anderson didn’t offer his Fantasy owners much as their RB2 last season. He was clearly the main running back early in the season ahead of Devontae Booker, garnering most of the carries until succumbing to a season-ending injury in Week 8. The offensive line was a big problem for most of the season, as they consistently failed to open holes for the running game. This led to a lot of early contact for Anderson, whose injury slowed him down to begin with. Adding to that was the play of Trevor Siemian at quarterback. The lack of a vertical passing attack brought defenders into the box, leading to more attention on Anderson and the running game.
Entering the 2017 season, not a lot has changed with the Broncos offense. Some improvements were made to the offensive line, but Siemian will once again be the quarterback. Anderson has some competition in the backfield with Jamaal Charles and Booker, but the coaching staff has placed their trust in Anderson. With this offense looking like it will again play close to the line of scrimmage, Anderson will likely be the focal point yet again. Word out of camp is that he should be involved more in the passing game this year, which gives him more appeal in PPR leagues. As this Broncos team plays in plenty of close games, look for the team to lean on Anderson to keep the chains moving and keep them in ball games. He has every chance to run for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns, but if he can get to around 40 catches his value will be greatly enhanced. His value right now is higher in standard leagues over PPR, but as an RB2 I like him as an early fifth round selection in drafts.
Ty Montgomery: ADP 47
Ty Montgomery started out 2016 as the fourth option on the Packers’ wide receiver depth chart. Then all of a sudden, one month into the season, Mike McCarthy decided to put him into the running back rotation due to a lack of options. Although there was a lot of hype surrounding him during the 2017 offseason, if you really look at his numbers you see an insufficient player. He ran for 451 yards on the ground, but had only one game in which he made more than 10 carries. He also had two games of 10 catches but in all other contests, three receptions were the most he hauled in during the season. So, did he flash good play? Yes. But did he do that for long stretches during the season? No. He really did look the part of a wide receiver in the backfield who splits out to confuse defenses.
Now that the 2017 season is upon us, the Ty Montgomery hype train has been running like crazy for most of the summer. Playing in this offense, does he have what it takes to put up Top 15 numbers? He does. But, I don’t see him as a back who will give you enough touches to trust him on a weekly basis as your RB2. Another factor this season is Jamaal Williams, the running back the Packers added in the draft. He will likely overtake Montgomery at some point early in the season. Montgomery could surprise early and hold the job, but he would need to post RB1 numbers to hold off the charge from Williams. At his current ADP, I will not be buying in on Montgomery this year. He is primarily a PPR player with little value in standard leagues. At the stage of the draft when you’ll have to draft Anderson, there will be players available who can produce in both the passing and running aspects of the game.
Faced with this decision in drafts, I will be going with C.J. Anderson every time. He will be the focal point of the Broncos’ offense with the potential to post high-end RB2 numbers. If he remains healthy, he will play up to, if not exceed, his draft day value. Montgomery, on the other hand, is a player who must perform with the touches he receives because he is not a bell-cow type of running back. Montgomery will also have to fight off competition for touches, something Anderson won’t have to worry about. If you’re faced with this decision in your draft, go with Anderson and don’t look back. Always take the player with more opportunities.