C.J. Anderson, Broncos union creates a fantasy value

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice..."

You know how the rest of that goes, and it pertains to both the real world and the world of fantasy football. So when I tell you that C.J. Anderson should be considered a valuable asset in 2016 drafts, I know some of you out there are going to scoff at that notion. After all, Anderson was a first- or second-round pick in most leagues last season ... and he went on to finish 30th in points among running backs.

Fool me once.

Anderson had a dreadful start to the 2015 campaign, I admit it. He averaged a mere 4.67 fantasy points in his first six games, and his yards per attempt (2.69) was awful too. Ronnie Hillman looked like the better back in those first six contests at times, though neither made what you would call a consistent impact for fantasy fans. Hillman scored fewer than eight fantasy points in four of those six contests and Anderson didn't record more than seven points in a single game.

Things improved for Anderson in Week 8, though, starting with a 16.6-point performance against the Green Bay Packers. He scored 27.3 points in a Week 12 win over the New England Patriots and finished the regular season with a combined 25.1 points in his last two contests. Overall, Anderson averaged 9.81 points in his final nine contests. Here's the part you should remember the most ... in those nine games, Anderson saw fewer than 15 carries seven times. That includes five games with single-digit attempts.

The Cal product also averaged more than 6.4 yards per attempt in that time.

Let's fast forward to 2016, where Anderson drew large contract offers from both the Chicago Bears (four years, $19 million) and the Miami Dolphins (four years, $18 million). He agreed to the latter, but the Broncos matched it on Tuesday. That means the team has made quite an investment in the 25-year-old runner. It also means that Anderson is going to see more than the 152 rushing attempts he saw in the offense a season ago.

Fantasy fans should also keep in mind that Hillman is a free agent and no lock to return to the Super Bowl champions. Sure, the Broncos could decide to add another back to compete for work. But unless a runner like Arian Foster is signed (to re-unite with his former coach, Gary Kubiak), it's tough to see a scenario where Anderson isn't the lead back in an offense that could lean on the run even more in 2016 with the state of their quarterback position in flux.

Is Anderson now a first-round pick? Probably not, as elite wideouts are on the rise and most owners would be far too skeptical to take him that high. But based on the happenings of last season and what has gone down so far this offseason, Anderson could turn out to be one of the better fantasy draft bargains of 2016.

And yes, C.J., I'll be looking to add you to Team Fabiano ...

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on NFL.com and NFL Network and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Have a burning question on anything fantasy related? Tweet it to @Michael_Fabiano or send a question via Facebook!

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