Who is C.J. Anderson? Broncos undrafted running back has solid debut, entering the fantasy radar

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While there is a three-way battle in Denver to be the starting running back, an undrafted free agent has a better game than all of them. Where did he come from?

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson carried the ball 15 times for 69 yards on Thursday's preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers.  While there is a three-way battle for being the starting running back in Denver at the moment, Anderson is not a part of it.  Did his performance on Thursday warrant him getting noticed in that respect?

Though Anderson was going against second and third-string defensive units, he had the best night for the Broncos by far. Knowshon Moreno ran the ball six times for 23 yards, rookie Montee Ball ran it five times for nine yards, and second-year pro Ronnie Hillman carried it three times for nine yards. Anderson's 4.6 yards per carry was well ahead of all three of those players that are currently fighting to replace the departed Willis McGahee.

When Denver signed the undrafted Anderson out of Cal, it appeared to be virtually impossible for him to make the roster on a team with such depth at the position. But at the very least, another performance like this should guarantee him a spot on the practice squad.

At least, if another team doesn't pick him up.

Mile High Report detailed the background on Anderson in May:

C.J. Anderson isn't the quickest halfback, but he runs hard between the tackles and can be hard to bring down. His vision and one-cut mentality reminds me of the great Broncos zone blocking scheme of old.

Anderson only played two yards at Cal after transferring from Laney College in 2011. He played sparingly during his junior and senior seasons, finishing his career with 198 carries for 1,135 yards and an impressive 5.7 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns. At 5'8, 224 pounds, Anderson has the bulk to play the position and carry a big workload, it would appear, but his 4.60 forty-yard dash probably left more to be desired from NFL teams in addition to his lack of experience at the D-I level.

Despite that, it looks like Anderson, an unknown player out of Cal, has put himself in the conversation of one of the most heated battles in fantasy football: The starting running back of the Denver Broncos.

Fantasy take: It still seems unlikely that Anderson would beat out Ball, Hillman, and Moreno for carries, but if he keeps having performances like this, he will warrant more playing time against number one defenses. John Fox isn't averse to using running back committees, but the team just spent a good pick on Ball out of Wisconsin, and Moreno the year before. Not to mention that Moreno was very solid last year after taking over for McGahee.

If Anderson is going to be a name to watch in fantasy football this year, it might come from a different team.  If he doesn't make the Broncos, he could very well get picked up by another team.  Especially if he keeps doing what he did on Thursday.

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