Last season the backfield for the Denver Broncos was quite disappointing. Both C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman were inconsistent throughout the year. Anderson was expected to be a game-changer in the fantasy scene after his breakout 2014 campaign. As the year went on, Hillman emerged as the lead back as he ended the season with more than 50 extra carries compared to Anderson.
Despite their struggles in the running game, the Broncos went on to win the Super Bowl due to their dominance on the defensive side of the ball. Now looking at the makeup of their roster in 2016, they are without a handful of key pieces which led them to the championship this past season. For starters, they will be without both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler under center – Mark Sanchez will likely be the week one starter at quarterback. How does that affect the running game?
With Sanchez under center, look for the Broncos to lean more-so on the running game to open up things on offense. The three-headed monster of Anderson, Hillman and Devontae Booker will have the majority of offensive touches this season. How will they be divided?
Of course the duo of Anderson and Hillman will receive the bulk of the carries in the first few weeks to open the season due to their experience. However, as the season progresses the Broncos will feed Booker more and more. Booker was a workhorse at Utah and can handle a heavy workload.
Not your average 4th-round pick…
Devontae Booker has big plans in Denver. pic.twitter.com/7exsmBi88w
— NFL (@NFL) May 20, 2016
“I’m not there to carry pads, I’m there to steal someone’s job.” Now that quote from the rookie Booker may stir the pot a bit, but you have to admire the youngster’s cajones. This will make Booker a target throughout the offseason, and he will be forced to back up his talk.
Booker brings a smooth, powerful running style to the table which could result in him seeing a healthy dose of goal-line carries. On the year he can see upwards of 100 total carries, but I’ll put him in the 80-90 neighborhood. Overall I’ll project between 350-400 yards on the ground with a mild contribution in the passing game as well.
Value wise, Booker carries more in dynasty leagues, as most rookies do. Within the next couple years I see him progressing into the starting back in Denver’s offense. As for his rookie year in standard leagues, I wouldn’t go as far as drafting him. However, keep an eye on him throughout the season – I see his value rising in the later weeks as the Broncos look to give him more experience leading up to 2017 as he will receive a larger role in the offense with an impeding free agent in Ronnie Hillman.