The first two weeks of the season have shown that Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson is not healthy. Last season, Anderson was one of the premier running backs in the league after taking over for Montee Ball. After a subpar week 2 game, the popular first round pick has produced a total of 56 yards on 24 carries (2.3 ypc). It seems like a fair time for those who invested to feel worried and other owners to capitalize.
Ronnie Hillman is the apparent next man up in the Denver backfield and he is the most likely to benefit from a faltering Anderson. Hillman has some upside, but will probably not take over one hundred percent of the rushing duties if Anderson is forced to miss time. Juwan Thompson will probably factor into the equation as well. Both Hillman and Thompson have shown themselves to be capable in limited past opportunities.
It seems likely that Hillman would handle the majority of the carries as well as having a clear advantage on passing
downs. He does not have the power that coaches would typically like to see in the red zone however. This is where Juwan Thompson could pay some dividends for shrewd owners.
None of this means that owners should be dropping C.J. Anderson. When he is healthy, he is easily the most skilled back on the Broncos roster. Coach Kubiak has also stated that he believes in having a "bell cow" running back rather than a committee. The best case for owners would probably be for the team to rest Anderson for a couple of weeks and bring him back at full strength. This will probably happen either in week 3 or shortly after as the team is noticing that he is hampered by his toe.
Now is the time to grab Hillman, as the Broncos offense is beginning to hit their stride. Thursday's victory over the Chiefs should serve as a big confidence boost for Peyton Manning and the offensive line. This can only be good news for Hillman as the primary pass catcher, even if the team continues to run out a hobbled Anderson for another week or two. Hillman is splitting carries currently at about a 50/50 clip and if the Broncos get into a shootout, he should be on the field for a higher percentage of the time.
The only legitimate, top tier back that the Broncos have on their roster is Anderson. Keep this in mind when picking up Hillman and/or Thompson. While they may produce RB2 numbers on occasion, they should not be relied upon to carry a team by any means. On the other hand, owners who used a high pick or a lot of their auction budget on Anderson are not likely to find a better replacement at the moment. This does not have the look of the situation where Anderson took over for Ball in 2014, but remember that most people thought that Ball was more skilled than Anderson and would take over upon his return.
For the moment, Hillman is a must-add. He is not someone to bust your FAAB budget to acquire, but I would certainly do what it takes if you own Anderson or are desperate for running back help.