Michael Carter Draft Profile
Michael Carter Draft Props
Carter is +4000 at almost every sportsbook on the planet, including DraftKings, to be the No. 1 back selected in the class.
As they say in North Carolina: Ain’t happenin’.
Actually, I don’t know if they say that in the Tar Heel State, but you can’t prove that somewhere someone in North Carolina doesn’t say it on a semi-regular basis, so it works.
While I rely on my own research, I also take a “wisdom of the crowds” approach by surveying an index of mock drafts. I find that these drafts — created by experts with established records of success — collectively give me a good sense of the realistic range of outcomes for what we might see with any given player or pick.
In not one of the surveyed mocks has Carter gone in Round 1. While his draft stock has rapidly risen over the past year, he’s currently on the borderline of Rounds 3-4 (per Grinding the Mocks).
I can see him maybe sneaking into the bottom of Round 2. But Round 1? Ain’t happenin’ — and that means he has no bearing on the prop market.
Dynasty Fantasy Analysis
I expect Carter to be a competent, yet unremarkable, NFL back for maybe a half decade. Change-of-pace committee back at best, underutilized backup at worst. His floor is reasonably high, but his ceiling isn’t much higher than his floor.
If I were feeling wildly optimistic, I’d say that his best-case scenario is a Devonta Freeman-like career. As you probably know, I’m not an optimist.
Carter is a good player, but I doubt he’ll be anything more than occasional low-end fantasy RB3.
An immediate contributor as a true freshman, Carter had 97-559-8 rushing and 11-100-1 receiving in 11 games as the No. 2 back in the offense, and although his touchdown production declined the following year, Carter played well enough as a sophomore with 84-597-2 rushing and 25-135-1 receiving in nine games to force a three-way committee with upperclassmen Antonio Williams and Jordon Brown.
As a junior, Carter finally broke out. He had to split the backfield with the heralded and productive Javonte Williams, but Carter played slightly ahead of him as the No. 1 back and actually outproduced him in scrimmage yards (1,157 vs. 1,109).
- Michael Carter (13 games): 177-1,003-3 rushing | 21-154-2 receiving
- Javonte Williams (13 games): 166-933-5 rushing | 17-176-1 receiving
On top of that, Carter served as the team’s top kick returner in 2019, putting up a 19-466-0 stat line on kickoffs.
As a senior, Carter continued to deal with and manage the presence of Williams, who massively outproduced him as a touchdown scorer, but once again Carter was the more prolific back in scrimmage yards (1,512 vs. 1,445).
- Michael Carter (11 games): 156-1,245-9 rushing | 25-267-2 receiving
- Javonte Williams (11 games): 157-1,140-19 rushing | 25-305-3 receiving
Despite consistently playing the lightning role to the thunder function of other, bigger backs, Carter was a one tough cookie in college. He runs the way Dewey Cox walks: hard.
Also, there’s a 100% chance that’s the first time I’ve ever used the phrase “one tough cookie.” Cash that ticket.
With his low center of gravity and stout trunk, Carter plays through contact on every play, and he does an excellent job of transforming patience into power as he explodes through the holes his blockers create. He has the body of a scatback but the heart of a grinder.
If I were the type of person who studies film, I might say that Carter is a “meat-and-potatoes runner.” I don’t know what that means, and yet it feels accurate. As a runner, he provides a healthy serving of protein and carbohydrates. You know, power.
But Carter’s calling card is ultimately not power: It’s his agility, and you see that in his workout numbers. Although Carter exhibited underwhelming speed and explosiveness at the UNC pro day, he was elite in his agility drills, especially his short shuttle (per RotoViz Workout Explorer).
If you look at the running back leaderboards in the 2021 Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook, you see that Carter was one of the most dynamic rushers and receivers in the nation last year, despite his smallish size and mediocre speed and explosiveness.
Yards per Carry
- Michael Carter: 8.0
- Khalil Herbert: 7.7
Yards per Route Run
- Travis Etienne: 1.6
- Michael Carter: 1.2
How was Carter able to put up such elite efficiency numbers? Agility.
The dude is like a Madden juke. He stacks moves on moves.
Definitely not sleeping on Michael Carter. Vision, wicked cuts, can catch, breaks tackles… pic.twitter.com/FNQ0NOyHh8
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) February 26, 2021
And his agility also shows up in his routes: Carter is one of the best receiving backs in the class, and he runs crisp routes, routinely shaking defenders with his stop-start twitchiness. I like how the Pro Football Focus Draft Guide puts it: “Accomplished receiver who can pants linebackers in coverage.” That’s exactly what he is.
Carter, though, has some obvious flags.
First: his size. He’s not built like a lead back, which makes sense, because …
Second: his workload. At no point in college was Carter a true lead back. Not in one season did he have even 200 touches from scrimmage.
Third: his athleticism. Agility is nice, but speed is nicer. Without breakaway celerity, Carter is unlikely to be an explosively efficient NFL producer — and that, combined with his low odds to be a high-volume back, makes him a rather unexciting prospect.
As stated earlier, I expect Carter to have moderate success, because he’s actually good at football. I don’t, however, imagine he will significantly impact the fantasy fortunes of his investors in the long run.
A short-yet-sturdy, slow-yet-slippery running back with plus receiving skills out of North Carolina: Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before …
NFL Prospect Comp: Giovani Bernard with a later breakout and less draft capital, receiving production and returning production
Matthew Freedman is 1,018-828-37 (55.1%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
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