Broncos Day 3 rookie could steal starting job from former 2nd-round pick

Don't underestimate this rookie
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

If you're a big fantasy football player looking to "steal" a possible key contributor for your team whether you're in redraft leagues or especially in dynasty leagues, you might want to get familiar with Denver Broncos rookie running back Audric Estimé.

The Broncos used a 5th-round draft pick on the rookie out of Notre Dame, and he could be in line to take someone's job this summer.

Not to get too hyperbolic, of course, but the running back position in the NFL is one of the few in which the young players have a distinct advantage over the older guys. Experience still matters at the position, but for a player like Estimé, the situation in Denver couldn't be better.

Audric Estimé could steal Javonte Williams' job in 2024

One of the things that made Javonte Williams so special in his rookie season back in 2021 was his ability to create yardage after contact. In fact, there were very few backs in the entire league who were as good at doing exactly that as Javonte was in 2021.

His yards after contact per attempt total that rookie season was up at 2.3, and we saw that number dip to a really frustrating 1.7 yards after contact per attempt in 2023. Williams was coming off of a season-ending knee injury in 2022 and obviously, it takes time to work back from those things.

Over the course of the Broncos' final 10 games last season, Williams averaged just 3.26 yards per carry. In the final four weeks, he averaged 2.64 yards per carry. It's almost a miracle the Broncos didn't go after a running back earlier than they did with Estimé in the 5th round.

Although Javonte Williams is still only 24 years old (and he just turned 24), he's entering a contract year with a lot going against him. Audric Estimé is now entering a situation in Denver where Williams was clearly atop the pecking order all of last season.

Estimé graded as Pro Football Focus's best overall running back in college football last season. A whopping 892 of his 1,341 rushing yards last season came after contact. This guy is an absolute brawler when he has the ball in his hands, and he almost never goes down on initial contact. Given his size and physicality, that's a trait that can translate immediately to the next level -- provided he stays healthy.

Estimé is currently going to miss the remainder of offseason work due to a minor knee scope. Broncos head coach Sean Payton said he would be "full go" by the start of training camp, which means that the running back competition in Denver is going to ramp up substantially as soon as the pads come on.