Michael Carter's Fantasy Outlook After Being Selected by Jets in 2021 NFL DraftMay 1, 2021
Former North Carolina running back Michael Carter will have a shot at immediate fantasy football relevance after being selected by the New York Jets on Saturday in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft.
Carter joins a backfield without a defined pecking order, so he'll likely take part in an open competition with Ty Johnson, La'Mical Perine, Tevin Coleman, Josh Adams and Pete Guerriero throughout training camp and the preseason for a high spot on the Week 1 depth chart.
The Jets' lackluster rushing attack in 2020 was best summed up by 37-year-old Frank Gore leading the team in carries with 187. Gore may land in the Hall of Fame one day, but he doesn't have the juice left at this stage of his career to serve as such a vital part of an offense.
So Carter walks into pretty much the most favorable situation a rookie running back could hope for, especially one who didn't come off the board until Day 3 of the draft.
The 21-year-old Florida native was a dual-threat weapon across his four years at UNC. He compiled 3,404 rushing yards, 656 receiving yards and 28 total touchdowns in 44 games for the Tar Heels. He found the end zone 11 times in 2020 despite splitting the backfield with Javonte Williams, a second-round pick.
In September, he discussed placing a greater emphasis on proving himself as an asset in the passing game en route to a career-high 256 receiving yards.
"It's just being versatile in that aspect," Carter told reporters. "Because you look at the new age running backs, [Christian] McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Zeke [Elliott] even. Guys like that, that are the best players in the league. Aaron Jones, I can't believe I missed Aaron Jones, like special talent and because he's so versatile."
That figures to benefit him as he tries to at least carve out a niche as a rookie.
Coleman represents the biggest competition in terms of a possible three-down role. Johnson and Perine will likely compete for early-down work, while Adams' playmaking ability could make him a threat for passing-down assignments as he becomes more comfortable working out of the backfield.
It's a wide-open race, however, and with likely only four roster spots available for running backs, there will be several of the Jets' options who don't make the final cut.
Carter is a virtual lock to make the team as a rookie, and, given the non-zero chance he ends up as the high-volume starter, he deserves attention very early in dynasty leagues that draft rookies annually.
His value in redraft leagues is far more difficult to project at this stage. He's certainly worth a mid-round flier until the Jets' backfield comes into better focus.