UNC Tar Heels RB Michael Carter has gone under the radar leading up to both the NFL and dynasty drafts, leading him to have a reduced perceived value. While his teammate deserves the limelight, Michael Carter provides valuable depth and sneaky upside for upcoming fantasy football drafts.
Michael Carter’s dynasty value for 2021
Chapel Hill had their own version of “Thunder and Lightning” in 2020 between Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. The duo lit up the ACC. As a result, both enter the NFL Draft as legitimate prospects. However, they both found production in vastly different ways.
Williams is a bulldozer who moves far better and more explosive than someone his size should be able to do. While undersized, Carter showed fantastic burst and a second gear that allows him to break off big runs.
That home run threat is the unique aspect about Carter. Don’t get me wrong; he will get his nose dirty on inside runs. Several times, Carter chose to take a page out of William’s playbook and put his shoulder down rather than using finesse to maneuver around them. Heading into the NFL Draft, Carter was my RB6. But after brutal landing spots for some, along with Carter going to a perfect offense for his skill set, he has leapfrogged several RBs to my No. 5 running back of the class.
Michael Carter selected by the New York Jets
Up to the fourth round of the NFL Draft, it had been a struggle for fantasy football, if I am honest. Only four running backs had gone off the board, and the question was if there were any desirable landing spots left? Early in Round 4, we got a massive boost in the selection of Carter to the New York Jets. This was an ideal landing spot and to secure him at pick No. 107 is an incredible value. More importantly, it is a perfect fit. Carter is arguably the best zone rusher of the class and will play in a scheme that perfectly complements his skill set. Robert Saleh and Mike LeFaluer are going to run the same Shanahan-style offense that has taken the NFL by storm.
Outside of Carter, the Jets have Tevin Coleman, La’Mical Perine, and Josh Adams. Carter is the lead dog out the gate and has secured a spot inside the top-five running back rankings for dynasty drafts. He is a low-end RB2/higher-end RB3 in 2021 as the Jets continue to rebuild their franchise from the ground up. I could see Carter being a 14-16 touch per game player with three to four of those coming via the passing game.
Carter is a rare four-year college player
Michael Carter grew up in Florida and attended Navarre High School. As a senior, Carter rushed for 2,536 yards and racked up 3,345 all-purpose yards and 45 total touchdowns. He was named the Florida Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today. A massive award given Florida might have the most talent of any state in the country.
Carter saw playing time right out of the gates as a freshman. The UNC running back led the team with 8 touchdowns on the ground and totaled 559 yards on 97 carries.
As a sophomore, Carter never really found his footing. He rushed 84 times for 597 yards and 2 touchdowns in nine games while adding 25 receptions for 135 yards and another score. His junior year was where Michael Carter broke out. As a result, we saw his name popping up in dynasty circles as a player to watch, and his value reflected it.
He rushed for 1,003 yards and 3 touchdowns during his junior season and had 21 receptions for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. He earned a 2019 honorable mention All-ACC for his all-purpose, versatile ability. Carter was also named third-team All-ACC in 2019 and was on the Doak Walker Award and Paul Hornung watch lists in 2020.
Michael Carter saw his dynasty value skyrocket during his senior season
In a time where we see a majority of prospects enter the NFL after three years of collegiate ball, it’s rare to see guys go back for a senior season. However, both Carter and Williams had something to prove.
Now a team captain, Carter started in 11 games for the Tar Heels. This season, Carter led the ACC in rushing. He rushed for 1,245 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also averaged 8.0 yards per carry and added 25 catches for 267 receiving yards.
Carter was named the ACC RB of the Week after rushing for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns against Virginia Tech. Against Miami, Michael Carter and Williams ran for a combined 544 rushing yards, the most by two running backs in college football history. Carter led the team in rushing in that game with 308 yards, along with 2 touchdowns.
Michael Carter opted out of the Orange Bowl and ended his collegiate career with 3,404 yards (6.6 avg) on 514 carries for 22 touchdowns. He added 82 receptions for 656 yards and 6 touchdowns in his 44 games as a Tar Heel. Michael Carter might very well be the highest riser in value at the running back position in dynasty heading into 2021.
Where should you draft Carter in dynasty rookie mock drafts?
Now in a zone-running scheme, Carter will see his dynasty value rise. In 1QB drafts, Carter is going to be selected in the early to mid-second round. This class at running back lacks in overall depth. However, Carter is one of those players who you select and hope his value will rise. He is my No. 13 overall rookie in this format but if you are on the turn and need a running back, I would have no issue taking him a spot or two heads of this.
Carter is a plus receiver who knows how to play with pace, using a hesitation in his speed to then bust past a defense. If you are in a Superflex dynasty draft, Carter’s value slides a bit further into the late second round of drafts. We needed a good landing spot for some of these mid-tier running backs to stabilize the depth of this running back class. Carter is a breath of fresh air for RB-needy teams.
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