As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each fantasy football season, you’ll always find some new/less familiar names near the top of the list. “Introducing” will be a series that features these lesser known players who are expected to begin the season in heavily featured roles for the very first time. Never shy away from players just because they’re yet to make a name for themselves … yet.

USATSI_8603159_168381090_lowres

C.J. Anderson — RB, Denver Broncos

Much like Jeremy Hill and Mike Evans, you know who this dude is, but this season you’re really going to get to know C.J. Anderson.

The former undrafted free agent signed with the Broncos in 2013 — a season in which he played in just four games and took seven carries. Denver didn’t think much of Anderson heading into 2014 either. You may recall, Monte Ball was supposed to be the greatest thing since electricity (at least in the fantasy community) heading into camp in 2014. He fell into the starting job on hype alone, and it didn’t take long to realize he wasn’t worthy. Ball wound up rushing for just 172 yards on 55 carries (3.1 YPC) and a single touchdown in 2014 — a season he was expected to be the Broncos’ workhorse.

But Anderson wasn’t even discovered right away when Ball went down and lost his job. Ronnie Hillman was originally the next man up. Hillman accumulated 106 carries fir 434 yards last season, and even a guy named Juwan Thompson got in the mix in 2014, sneaking in 54 caries for 272 yards (both players scored three TDs).

Then Week 10 happened. Hillman went down with an injury and Anderson was finally called in to be the featured back. C.J. rewarded the Broncos with 13 carries for 90 yards and another four receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown.

From then on, Anderson never looked back. He kept the job and didn’t touch the ball less than 17 times in a game until a blowout in the season finale (a game in which Hillman also returned and took 15 carries).

Anderson really found his groove in Weeks 12-13 when he tallied a combined 335 rushing yards and SIX scores. He also added six receptions, totaling 65 touches during his monster two-game stretch.

THAT’S the type of RB we can expect to see in 2015, especially in Gary Kubiak’s first season as head coach. Anderson will now be featured in the same system that did such an amazing job of turning Arian Foster into fantasy football’s breakout star of 2010.

In the final eight games of the season, which Anderson spent (primarily) as the featured RB, he piled up 767 rushing yards, 290 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. Extrapolate those numbers over a healthy 16-game season and you’re looking at beyond elite production — 1,534 rushing yards/580 receiving yards/20 TDs.

Tack on the fact that Kubiak’s system is RB-friendly, and Anderson exceeding those wishful numbers becomes totally realistic if he maintains his health. That means C.J. Anderson is seriously in play to be the top fantasy RB of 2015. So don’t be afraid of the hype. Anderson will probably exceed it.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow

Want to read more from the “Introducing” series? Find all the players covered below.

Carlos Hyde — RB, San Francisco 49ers

Brandin Cooks — WR, New Orleans Saints

Latavius Murray — RB, Oakland Raiders

Jordan Matthews — WR, Philadelphia Eagles

DeAndre Hopkins — WR, Houston Texans

Mike Evans — WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Jeremy Hill — RB, Cincinnati Bengals