This week we wrap up our trip around the league with a look at the best draft day values in the AFC West. We hope you have enjoyed this series! Be sure to keep any eye on these average draft position marks as they move up and down throughout the summer.
Denver Broncos – RB C.J. Anderson (Average Draft Position: 69) and RB Jamaal Charles (Average Draft Position: 122)
The Denver running backs seem like an corps to steer clear of when you look at the box scores. The film, however, tells a much different story. I have re-watched every touch C.J. Anderson had in 2016 (there weren’t a ton over seven weeks) and I saw a back who was heavily involved in the ground and air attack. I saw a back who had 27 broken/missed tackles and could have had some much bigger games if he could have avoided just a few more shoestring tackles. I saw a back who found ways to get loose despite an often abysmal push from his Bottom 10 offensive line. To be clear, C.J. Anderson was far from elite in the seven games he played last season. That said, he did still somehow manage to post five double-digit fantasy outings in those seven games including nice games against Carolina in Week 1 (sixth-ranked rush defense) and Houston in Week 7 (12th-ranked rush defense). When the blocking was good he hit the hole with authority and churned out nice chunks of yardage, as any back should. When the blocking was subpar he really showed me a thing or two, often shaking a tackle or two and getting a couple yards instead of nothing.
If you merely look at the stat sheet it’s easy to write off C.J. Anderson this season especially when you consider the arrival of Jamaal Charles along with the continued presence of Devontae Booker. Jamaal Charles could be a legit threat if healthy (his résumé speaks for itself) but Devontae Booker doesn’t scare me one bit. Booker had the backfield to himself for the most part from Week 8 on and was only able to manage an embarrassing 2.3 yards per carry. Furthermore, during that stretch the Broncos only faced three Top 10 rush defenses, so we can’t tribute that poor play to tough matchups. Booker is going to get mixed in but he will not be lead dog at any point in 2017 — barring catastrophe. If you take C.J. Anderson in the fifth through seventh round range where he is currently going, I’d strongly consider drafting Jamaal Charles as well at his current 10th-12th round average draft position. There is a chance Charles never sees the field (due to questionable health) but if you are drafting early, I might consider rostering him just in case.
Kansas City Chiefs – RB Kareem Hunt (Average Draft Position: 118)
It’s no secret coach Andy Reid runs his offense through the running back position. If you’re not sure about that just look up Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy and Jamaal Charles – all ex-Reid feature backs, all fantasy football Hall of Famers. Spencer Ware was a converted fullback and even he looked like a super star tailback at times in this offense. To be specific, Spencer Ware looked great in four games last season: Week 1 vs. San Diego, Week 6 vs. Oakland, Week 7 vs. New Orleans and Week 13 vs. Atlanta. Of those four opponents, only the San Diego defense ranked in the Top 10 against the run. While Ware’s numerous 10-12 point outings were useful from a fantasy perspective, we tend to expect more from a back averaging almost 20 touches per game. With 20 touches per game, a 10-point outing is about half a point per touch – you’ve got to do better than that with your opportunity if you’re going to remain an Reid feature back. Enter third-round draft pick Kareem Hunt!
Hunt’s collegiate tape is pretty impressive. He runs with authority and is very versatile in the passing game (41 receptions in his final season with Toledo). This, of course, works well given his potential role in this offense. Many will point to his collegiate foes and say he didn’t really play against high-caliber opponents. This is partly true but there are a few outliers. In Week 5 last season he faced a Top 10 rush defense in BYU and gashed for 146 yards on the ground and a score – 5.4 yards per carry isn’t bad against a stout front seven. He also put together 87 total yards against Ohio’s Top 5 rush defense in Week 9. Not amazing but respectable. I’m not saying Kareem Hunt is a sure thing but Reid knows how to get the most out of his backs. Hunt has the chops to be a great fit for a system that has historically produced high-yield running backs. He just needs to opportunity. These are the kind of guys that win leagues if you guess right. At his current price, Kareem Hunt is as smart a bet as any.