Chris Carson Is the Real Deal

Chris Carson could well be worth a reach in the 7th round of fantasy drafts
Chris Carson could be worth a reach in the 7th round of fantasy drafts

When a team picks a running back in the first round of the draft, every NFL team and every fantasy player pays attention. Rashaad Penny went to the Seahawks as the 27th pick overall and the football community went into an uproar. Some people claimed it was a huge reach, others claimed that his tape and stats were deserving of a 1st round pick. Regardless of where you stand on Penny’s talent, it’s time for you to take advantage of his high draft stock in your fantasy football drafts.

The real running back to own on the Seahawks isn’t Penny, it’s Chris Carson. Penny is lowering his ADP like a lead weight and Carson is going in the 8th round in 12 team standard fantasy drafts (FantasyPros ADP). He’s more than worth a pick in the 8th and might be worth reaching for. Here’s why:

Past Performance

Chris Carson was drafted in the 7th round of the 2017 draft, a pick that usually gives a player a less than 1% chance of success as an NFL back. Still, all it took was one game before Carson beat out incumbent running backs Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls and became the starter for his team. Unfortunately, he only started about three games before suffering a horrible leg injury that took him out for the season. During the time he played, he averaged 4.2 YPC running behind a bottom-3 offensive line and was involved in the passing game, catching a touchdown in week 3. Eddie Lacy, the guy Seattle brought in to be their starter that season, averaged 2.6 YPC behind the same line. With Carson out, the Seattle RBs scored exactly 1 more TD the entire rest of the season.

This Preseason

Since the first day of training camp, Carson has drawn nothing but rave reviews and hype from the media and from the coaches. Not once in the entire preseason has Rashaad Penny been reported as the better back in practice. He certainly wasn’t better than Carson the one preseason week they both played, where Carson rushed 4 times for 26 yards (6.5 YPC) and Penny rushed 8 times for 16 yards (2.0 YPC). This was Penny’s first NFL game, so it was to be expected that he’d have a learning curve but this only served to further establish Carson as the lead back. One beat reporter said Carson has run “like a mac truck” this year and it shows as he runs with impressive power. He had a huge TD run taken away in week 3 of the preseason due to a penalty and scored another rushing TD in the last preseason game. Running with the starters all preseason, he’s averaged 4.7 YPC.

Pete Carroll’s History

Not so long ago, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks paid big money to bring in a quarterback and instead went with the team’s rookie 3rd round pick QB as the starter. The rookie won the job because he performed as the best QB in camp and throughout the preseason. That QB was Russell Wilson. Right now, a 2017 7th round pick has been by far the best running back in camp. I fully expect Pete Carroll to field the best players he can regardless of capital invested in them. Carroll has already done this once with Carson last season.

Penny’s Injury and Weight Gain

Penny damaged his thumb shortly after preseason week 2 and it required surgery to fix. By all accounts he should be good to go by week 1 but he’s only recently resumed practicing and essentially lost any shot of starting as the top RB on the team to open the season. Losing reps with the starters going into the year is never a good thing for a rookie and it’s only allowed Carson to distance himself further from Penny with three very good preseason performances. Penny has also gained 16 pounds since joining the Seahawks. Gaining weight as an NFL RB is almost never a good thing.

Combine Results

Carson fared extremely well in the 2017 combine, scoring a 5.22 overall grade. You can check out his NFL combine profile¬†here. He outperformed Rashaad Penny in every metric but the 40 yard dash, where he ran a 4.58, which is respectable for a big back (Carson is 5’11” and 223 lbs).

The Point

Carson is a big, strong, shifty running back that’s also good at catching passes and profiles out as a 3-down back.¬†He can be an above average NFL starter and has shown the potential to be something special if the offensive line play improves (which it looks like it has based on the preseason). He has outplayed Rashaad Penny in just about every notable way all of preseason and he’s in the driver seat to start at running back week 1. By drafting Carson, you can get a solid RB2 with RB1 upside in the 8th round. He’s one of the best speculative pickups around and well worth the risk, even as a bit of a reach. Look to take him over players in the same draft range like Isaiah Crowell and Chris Thompson, as he has much higher upside with less risk than people think.

-By Alex Murphy

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