After the 2013 NFL Draft, practically every fantasy fan had rookie back Montee Ball pegged as the featured back in this offense. However, Ball struggled during the preseason, couldn’t be fully trusted in pass protection, and his stock plummeted. From then on, this backfield was a complete and total committee.
That seems like forever ago.
It’s Week 6, and Knowshon Moreno is playing like a running back one in fantasy land. In fact, he has been producing like one too. Coming off of a 100 scrimmage yard, two-touchdown performance, Moreno currently ranks inside the top-10 among all fantasy running backs through six weeks. On the year, Moreno has carried the ball a solid 80 times for 373 yards and seven touchdowns. The headache in Denver is no more, as Moreno has posted at least 13 total touches in every game this season. He’s also carried the ball at least 12 times in every game since Week 1. He is also averaging 33 snaps per contest, which is more than the likes of Reggie Bush and Darren McFadden. From watching him, he’s looked very strong, showing a good balance of power and vision, and, of course, playing in an offense led by the likes of Peyton Manning sure helps.
I talked about this when hyping Ball during the offseason (idiot), but running backs in Manning-led offenses tend to see fantasy success. Take a look at what some running backs have done alongside Manning. Even some guys who don’t have the most talent in the world were extremely fantasy relevant.
|2000||Edgerrin James||13||338 (2nd)|
|2003||Edgerrin James||13||221 (10th)|
|2006||Joseph Addai||7||189 (11th)|
|2007||Joseph Addai||12||234 (5th)|
Clearly, touchdowns have been a familiar statistic for running backs with Manning. Probably because he is so good at marching down the field. His backs see plenty of goal line opportunity, which is vital to fantasy relevancy. So, as I continue to preach these running backs, does this mean we will continue to see this type of production?
As long as he is in Denver, we just might.
It’s no secret. The Broncos have the most high-powered offense in the league. Coming into Sunday’s action, this unit was averaging 46 points per contest, which is easily the most in football. They move up and down the field better (and easier) than any other offense in the league, and because of that, Moreno will reap the benefits. From a red zone perspective, they have been busy. Currently ranking first in the league with 28 red zone attempts, Denver’s offense has allowed Moreno to see plenty of red zone carries. And when they are in there, it’s a rare occasion when they falter. Thus far, Denver is sporting an 82.1 red zone percentage (via fantasydata.com), which, you guessed it, is first in the league. Moreno, meanwhile, came into this contest 14th in oTD (2.1), an adjusted touchdown number based on location of red zone targets, introduced by Mike Clay and the folks over at PFF. He’s been getting the looks inside the 20, which has resulted in touchdowns. Moreno is also making the most out of those snaps, averaging a healthy 0.37 fantasy points per snap, which is fourth among rushers.
For those owners wondering whether or not they should sell high, I wouldn’t recommend it, actually. He has clearly secured the starting job in this backfield, and considering the muddled running back position in fantasy this season, I don’t know if you can afford to get rid of a quality starting back in a dynamite offense. Moreno also has some very favorable matchups down the road, and while the Broncos are still a pass-first team, Moreno has been contributing in the passing game, hauling in a solid 17 passes thus far. I’m not 100 percent convinced he’ll finish the season as a top-10 guy, but he has massive upside in this offense.
We saw it towards the end of last season, and are already seeing it again this year.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.