Fantasy Profile: Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
It won’t be long before Montee Ball is carrying the load for the Denver Broncos. On the surface this seems like a less than bold statement considering Ball’s 77 rushing touchdowns, including 33 during his junior year and back-to-back seasons of 1,800 plus yards rushing for Wisconsin.
Despite an impeccable resume, Ball comes with warning labels. He’s too small, not fast enough, carried far too large of a workload as a Badger and is now a member of a pass happy offense that has a crowded backfield. Pass protection is another knock on Ball as he wasn’t given the third down opportunities in Wisconsin. All red flags that could see Ball falling in your fantasy football drafts.
Here’s the deal, once Ball learns the playbook and proves his ability to read and react to the blitz earning Peyton Manning’s trust, anything is possible for the Broncos’ second round draft choice. He’s a smart player with a tremendous work ethic, earning Manning and the Broncos’ trust shouldn’t take long.
Simply put, the Broncos need Ball’s talents. Despite the label of being a passing team, Denver is still coached by the conservative John Fox. During Manning’s first season in Denver, the Broncos were ninth in the NFL with 481 rushing attempts.
Denver struggled at times in short yardage and goal line opportunities last season. The aggressive style in which Ball hits the line of scrimmage as a downhill runner should help the Broncos find more success in the trenches of the short yardage situations.
The crowded backfield in Denver consists of an aging Willis McGahee who is starting to show durability issues, draft bust turned role player Knowshon Moreno, and change of pace back Ronnie Hillman who struggled in pass protection as a rookie. Chances are one of these three won’t even be on the roster when the Broncos begin training camp.
Finally, John Elway is not going to invest a second round pick on an offensive weapon unless he intends to use that weapon early and often. The Broncos are a win now team with a Super Bowl or bust mentality. Elway only wants players on offense that can contribute now. Ball will get his opportunities.
When the muddled middle of the NFL running back group is being picked, draft Ball with confidence. Avoiding him due to the perceived red flags is a recipe for certain regret when this Bronco is running wild against the less than stellar run defenses of the AFC West. 1,200 plus yards and a double digit TD total is not a stretch for Ball in 2013.