What if I told you that there was a rookie running back that was selected by a team with an ascending offense and a new young quarterback under center that everyone was criminally low on? What if I told you that this running back was in an ambiguous backfield competition that he could easily win? And what if I told you that when he does win the starting job, he would be running behind two offensive linemen selected top fifteen in their respective draft classes? I would have your attention, wouldn’t I? This is how you find sleeper running backs in fantasy football. Let me introduce you to Mr. Carter; yes any Michael Carter article must have a Lil Wayne reference.
How Did We Get Here?
Michael Carter was a 3-star recruit coming out of high school in Florida and was even named the USA Today Florida Offensive Player of the Year during his senior season. He took his talents to Chapel Hill and joined Javonte Williams as a two-headed tandem that would dominate the ACC during the 2020 college football season. “Young Carter, go farther, go further, go harder.”
The table below outlines the 2020 season for the University of North Carolina backfield. As we can see, Carter actually gains more yards on the same number of attempts. The large difference comes in touchdown production.
Everyone is hyped about Williams and he is currently going at pick 55* in dynasty Superflex startups. Whereas Carter is currently going at pick 103* in dynasty Superflex startups. That is four whole rounds of difference in ADP! Comparing the situations, Javonte is in a backfield competing with Melvin Gordon for touches while Carter has the likes of Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, and La’Mical Perine holding him from the starting job. Let me remind you that Melvin Gordon was once a first-round draft pick who finished just shy of a thousand yards rushing last year. “And I’ma go so opposite of soft.”
The Supporting Cast
Finally, let us look at the state of the New York Jets team that Carter joined. According to PFF, the Jets offensive line ranked 25th in the league last year in run blocking grade, which is not great. However, this offseason they have invested in the offensive line. Despite already having two first-round picks, the Jets felt the need to trade up to get their guy. With the 14th pick, they selected Alijah Vera-Tucker, an offensive guard/tackle from USC. He was one of the top five offensive linemen on most industry big boards. Vera-Tucker joins 2020 top fifteen pick Mekhi Becton to form potentially one of the top tackle guard combos in the league. The Jets also went out and signed right tackle Morgan Moses this summer. Moses finished the 2020 season as the seventh-best run-blocking tackle according to PFF’s grading system.
And finally, I leave you with this:.
It’s obvious the Jets were in love with this man and were super stoked to get him. They had no third-round picks due to the trade for Vera-Tucker, but you best believe they would have taken Carter in the third if they had a pick. A big debate in our community is day two versus day three draft capital. I think we might want to put a little asterisk next to this fourth-round selection. Michael Carter, fade him at your own risk. Or as the great Lil Wayne once said, “I call them April babies, ’cause they fools.”
For more rookie analysis and takes be sure to give me a follow on Twitter over at @DanT_NFL. DMs are always open for any questions, comments, or craft beer recommendations!
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