RB Vick Ballard may not be the sharpest tool in the shed in terms of production, but with a little opportunity, he could be just the right running back depth your looking for in 2013.
Since filling in for incumbent starter Donald Brown back in Week 6, Ballard has proven to be a solid option in the Indianapolis Colts‘ run game and has seen his value to the team steadily rising.
In 16 games, the rookie out of Mississippi State carried the ball 211 times for 814 yards (3.9 YPC) and two touchdowns. He also added 17 receptions for 152 yards (8.9 YPC) and one touchdown, despite playing in a timeshare for most of the season.
The highlight of Ballard’s first-year came in Week 15 against the division-rival Houston Texans and their stout defense. In the game Ballard crossed the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time in his professional career, as he averaged a stunning 5.8 yards per carry.
The 219-pound bruiser isn’t going to get fantasy football owners jumping out of their seats to draft him, but Ballard is better known for running between tackles as opposed to running outside of them. He’s the type of runner who gets better as the game progresses, and he has a chance to wear down the opposing defense.
Towards the end of the season, the Colts coaching staff seemed to agree with that last sentiment. After averaging just 14.2 carries from Weeks 6-13, Ballard saw an uptick in touches and averaged 21 carries over the final four games of the 2012 regular season.
Ballard ended the season on a high note, racking up 22 carries for 91 yards in a losing effort to the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card playoff round. Not only did fantasy owners walk away impressed, but the local media believes that the team has found a workhorse in Ballard.
With the Colts having more important holes to fill this off-season, starting with QB Andrew Luck’s pass-protection on the offensive line, upgrading at running back remains relatively low on the to-do list. Expect Ballard to enter 2013 as the Colts lead-back and be a great RB3/flex with lots of upside in fantasy circles.