The Denver Broncos like Devontae Booker, and so should you. In fact, the Broncos revealed their true affinity for their new toy last week as Booker out-touched C.J. Anderson 18-16 while playing more snaps. Now, with Anderson out with a serious knee injury, Devontae Booker has a chance to be a top-5 fantasy running back the rest of the season.
C.J. Anderson is not a bad player, but by no means should he be considered an elite running back, and he was not having the most efficient season prior to his injury. Anderson posted only an 18.2-percent (21st-percentile) College Dominator Rating to go along with a 110.5 (40th-percentile) SPARQ-x Score, displaying average overall athleticism and underwhelming college production. This season, Anderson has posted a -10.6 (No. 50) Production Premium (PlayerProfiler‘s proprietary situation-neutral efficiency metric), and was averaging only 4.5 yards per touch (38th in the league) with only 3 runs of 15 yards or longer. This has all led to an average of 14.6 fantasy points per game for Anderson before he recently landed on Injured Reserve. Good, not great.
Now close your eyes. Imagine what a truly special running back could accomplish when given the opportunity to lead Denver’s backfield. Imagine what a more talented running back like Devontae Booker can do.
Devontae Booker posted a 40.1-percent (87th percentile) College Dominator Rating and a 14.3-percent (91st-percentile) College Target Share, displaying the bell cow traits that C.J. Anderson lacks. This season, Booker has averaged 5.2 yards per touch (No. 27) to go with a -1.8 (No. 30) Production Premium, and already has 2 runs of 15 yards or longer despite seeing only a 30-percent Opportunity Share to Anderson’s 62.9-percent. It’s now safe to say that Booker’s Opportunity Share, which was on the rise before Anderson’s season-ending knee injury, will skyrocket.
Over the first 4 games of the 2016 season, Booker posted a 20.5-percent Opportunity Share, but over the last three games, Booker has posted a 41.1-percent Opportunity Share, including a 50-percent Opportunity Share in week 7, which included five red zone carries. Keep in mind Booker’s spike in usage came after Denver’s mini-bye week, as they played last Thursday while not having to play again until Monday night, giving Denver coaches extra time to incorporate Booker into all aspects of the game plan. With zero draft capital investment and below average athleticism, there is little reason to expect Kapri Bibbs or Juwan Thompson to cannibalize significant touches from Booker as the season progresses. It’s all systems go.
Opportunity can be more valuable than talent in fantasy football, which is why C.J. Anderson was being taken in the 3rd or 4th rounds of fantasy drafts. Now, opportunity and talent have been aligned in the Denver backfield in the form of Devontae Booker, whom was drafted 8-10 rounds later. The drum of Zero-RB beats on.
This week, Devontae Booker slides seamlessly into fantasy RB1 status on PlayerProfiler’s week 8 player rankings and is the chalkiest free square DFS play of the year according to the site’s DFS Lineup Genius. Moving forward, given Booker’s ideal position nestled in the nexus of talent and opportunity, Denver’s new workhorse looks the part of a top-5 fantasy running back for the remainder of the 2016 season.