Chris Carson is a beast. He’s also undervalued. Here’s why I am buying him in all formats.
Chris Carson is the RB1 in a Seattle offense that was number one in the NFL in rushing yards per game. I say that for two reasons: His current ADP would suggest otherwise and because he was their RB1 in 2018. Now, even despite the loss of free agent Mike Davis and the 700 total yards and five touchdowns he’s taking with him, the former Oklahoma State Cowboy is being treated like an RB3.
Placing the correct value on a running back in dynasty is an art, so when I say Carson is closer to the top of my RB2 ranks, it isn’t to be taken lightly. But when we think about the most important variables for running back success (opportunity, scheme, coordinator) Carson checks every box:
- Opportunity – Carson ranked 5th in the NFL in yards and 7th in carries. Over the last four games, aka the money making weeks, he had 90 carries for 447 yards and 5 TDs.
- Scheme – The Seahawks ranked #1 in the NFL with 160 yards rushing per game and were one of two teams (Baltimore) who had more than 500 rushing attempts last season. In a league where there has been a premium placed on throwing the football, Seattle is a throwback offense.
- Coordinator – 2018 was the fourth time a Brian Schottenheimer offense had ranked in the top-10 in rushing. This is the same guy who made Zac Stacy, Shonn Greene, and the corpse of Steven Jackson fantasy relevant. In short, his running backs tend to be productive on volume alone.
At 6’0 and 220 pounds Carson is a perfect fit for the Seahawks; which is to say he is more thunder than lightning. Lacking top-end speed but built like a Greek God, he ranked 8th in the league in yards after contact. Football Outsiders credited him with a 51% success rate on his rushes last year, which ranked 4th among running backs with 200+ carries, ahead of Zeke Elliott, James Conner, Joe Mixon, and… Saquon Barkley.
As a rusher, Carson had a healthy 4.7 yards-per-carry and scored 9 touchdowns in 2018. Both of those ranked in the top-10 in the league. With Carson, the Seahawks know what they are getting and the consistency he showed in Weeks 11-17 when he was the feature back should provide him with leg up heading into camp.
Another reason to buy in is that Carson increased his passing game involvement last year with a respectable 20 receptions, which was 7.5% of his total touches. This represents a solid number in that category as it makes the Seahawks offense less personnel dependent with regards to play calling. He was also more efficient as a receiver than Rashaad Penny was, giving him an edge over the 2nd-year back.
Speaking of Penny, he may potentially eat into some of Carson’s work but with the aforementioned departure of Davis to Chicago, the Seahawks need to replace over 700 total yards and 34 receptions. The Seattle offense (and, probably to a greater degree, a Schottenheimer offense) can support two backs and with Carson being so productive last year he should continue to be the RB1.
While there is some buzz around the fantasy community about Penny, especially after his late-2018 flashes, Carson is likely to be the beneficiary of 18-20 touches per game. The presence of a back like Penny may boost Carson’s value as he won’t have to touch the ball 25+ times per game. At just 24-years of age, he is entering the prime window to maximize his production. Since Carson’s game is so physical, anything that can be done to lighten his load and extend his longevity will be helpful for his dynasty stock.
Investing with confidence in a player that has shown he has week-winning appeal is a winning proposition. At Carson’s current price tag, I am also interested in his floor. He will have touchdown equity and if he can once again bump his receiving output, he could sneak into the back-end of the RB1 group. In a Seahawks offense that prioritizes running the football, Carson is a no-brainer acquisition for me.
Carson is being drafted anywhere between RB24 and RB30 right now, making him a fringy RB2/solid RB3 in the eyes of the public. When we talk about investing in a player, we either want to get off the train before it derails or we want to jump on before it gets going too fast. I think now is the window to jump on the Chris Carson train because as we inch closer to the season his price is going to creep up. Invest with confidence and reap the rewards in 2019 and beyond.
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