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Rank's 11: C.J. Anderson in the first round

I would like to thank the New England Patriots before we get to the sleepers today. Thanks to their latest scandal, we were able to forget that Andy Dalton is going to play in a Pro Bowl. So thank you, Patriots.

I would also like to thank John Elway, too. Football can sometimes be a cold, cold business. But sometimes you have to make the tough decisions. Well, unless you're Mike McCarthy. Then you just take the easy way out and blame your underlings when things don't go your way. The point here is Elway was put in a pretty tough situation with John Fox. Here you had a coach who was pretty popular, and successful with four AFC West titles to his credit. The only problem was he had only one Super Bowl blowout loss to show for it. Which left Elway at a crossroads.

Does he go with a coach who would likely get another 11 wins next year and an early playoff exit? Or does he go with the bold strategy, Cotton? Elway had to make the tough call. He went against the status quo and let Foxy go. He had to. Eleven wins and division titles might be something you celebrate in Cleveland. But it's clearly not going to cut it for Elway, whose ultimate goal is the Super Bowl. So it wasn't the most popular move ever. Some might even question the wisdom of getting rid of a guy who has brought you success. Just take a look at what happened to the Chicago Bears when they fired Lovie Smith for Marc Trestman.

But I'm down with the move for the Broncos. I'm even more ecstatic over his hiring of Gary Kubiak. I'm not sure if it will result in the Super Bowl Elway so desperately seeks. To be frank, I don't give a (expletive). The fantasy portion of my brain goes into overdrive and impairs my judgment on such matters. Because this is going to be great for C.J. Anderson next year.

This will be the part of the story where you throw your hands in the air and say, "But Rank, C.J. Anderson is far, far from a sleeper. What is your problem? And quit quoting 'Archer' so much on Twitter."

All of that is true. Anderson isn't a sleeper at all. He was last year, though. He was my most coveted sleeper last season. You'll notice how much I love to talk about how I liked Anderson from the beginning. (Along with Terrance West and Devonta Freeman but we'll keep quiet on the last two. Though, both will be good options this year.) So my focus with you today is where you should pick Anderson in your coming drafts.

I am of the firm belief Anderson should be drafted in the first round. That's right. The first round.

Let's break this down. Anderson loves Kubiak and his offense, as evidenced by his words to The Denver Post. "I have known about his system for a while, and what he accomplished," C.J. Anderson said of Kubiak, per the Post. "One cut downhill and go get it. It fits me and the offense well. It's always been successful. He knows the team we have and what we can do. I can't wait to get started working with him."

That's pretty cool. Kubiak also did wonders for another former Cal running back last year in Baltimore named Justin Forsett. So I see no reason why this can't continue with Anderson as the top dog in Denver.

This will be the part of the story where you throw up your hands and say, "But Rank, I wasted a first-round pick on Montee Ball last year. There is no way I would ever trust a Denver running back again."

Don't get sucked into that. Ball wasn't a good running back when compared to his peers. He had some modest success, as any running back with Peyton Manning will do. But he was nothing compared to Anderson who flat out murdered it when he took the field. Anderson jumps off the tape. Ball was just kind of a nice runner. (Seriously, if you want to put a stigma on a running back, how about those Wisconsin running backs? Good luck with Melvin Gordon this year.)

But look at Kubiak's history as a head coach. Ron Dayne and Wali Lundy split carries during his first year with the headset. But he always went with the featured-back approach. Dayne was the top carrier in 2007, followed by Steve Slaton for two years and then Arian Foster. So the record shows he will lean on one guy. Forsett got the majority of the work for the Ravens last year, even with Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro in the mix. I am not going to be shy about putting my chips behind Anderson.

This is the part of the story where you will go, "Rank, what about Peyton Manning? What if he doesn't return?"

I have a feeling this move was made with Manning in mind. He's at the stage of his career where he needs to lean on his running back and let him do the dirty work. I believe Elway knows a thing or two about this. And he's going to impart this on Manning. The veteran QB will buy into Kubiak's system if he ever wants to see the Super Bowl again. Trust me, this is going to be a pretty good setup for all parties involved.

In our recent mock draft here at NFL Media, I put my money where my mouth is. I had the fifth pick in the draft and I went with Anderson. Over guys like LeSean McCoy (can't trust that expletive] again), [Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray. A lot can change between now and September (duh!). But I'd feel confident making that move.

Baseball sleeper of the week

Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: Just a reminder, I do play in a deep keeper league. Not a dynasty, but pretty close. So I'm always on the hunt for live arms. I had a pretty rad rotation for years but now those guys are getting old (I have dudes like King Felix and Cliff Lee). So when my season goes into the pooper (as it usually does) I start to mine for guys like Bradley. He's got a nice live arm. He's in the National League (which still matters to me). And the Diamondbacks are down to bring up some of the young talent in their system. He's got No. 1 stuff, and will get his chance matched up against the lower part of other team's rotations. I'll take that.

Golf DFS guy

Patrick Reed has been my go-to guy in the early part of the season. We haven't gotten many of the big names to play. But he's been consistent and he won this tournament last year. So get him into your lineup. And play golf, people. It's so much fun.

Royal Rumble Sleepers/Preview

Most folks expect Roman Reigns to take the thing. I can't see it. Brandon Stroud of "With Spandex" had the most interesting take on this. That being the WWE is going to push Reigns too hard akin to what it did with the Rock when he first started. That could start Reigns on a heel run leading up to next year. I like that.

Expect Reigns to eliminate a ton of dudes and get some shine. I expect him to be in the final four with Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan. I have Bryan taking the Rumble this year. Which would mean Brock Lesnar would retain the title. Which would be pretty cool. The summer program between Cena and Lesnar was supposed to be Bryan vs. Lesnar. So they go with that here. Besides, I'm not sure the WWE is ready for an ROH WrestleMania main event with Brian Danielson vs. Tyler Black. I mean Daniel Bryan vs. Seth Rollins.

Then again, Sting vs. HHH could be your main event which would mean Bryan vs. Rollins on the undercard could work. That would leave Cena and Lesnar to blow off their feud. And we sadly know how that would end. But Lesnar has been on an epic run against HHH, Undertaker and Cena, so a loss now would seem too strange. So that makes Daniel Bryan as my winner. That's my final answer.

  • Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank. He surprisingly answers a lot of questions. *
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