Fantasy football owners have gotten a lot of production from the Denver Broncos’ passing game this season, with quarterback Peyton Manning spreading the ball around to wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas. But running back Knowshon Moreno has also joined the party, with 413 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this season, including a touchdown on the ground in four straight games (six total).
Moreno is likely to maintain his role as the Broncos’ No. 1 running back as long as he is healthy, since he is superior to both Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball in pass protection and that is vital for any back that plays with Manning. But could there be room for Hillman or Ball to produce against the Washington Redskins in Week 8?
Hillman has fumbled in each of the last two games despite only seeing 11 total touches, so it’s fair to think his role will be reduced going forward until he proves he can correct his ball security issues. Ball did not get a carry in Week 7 against the Indianapolis Colts, and he has just four carries over the last three games and double-digit carries in only two games so far in his rookie season (43 carries for 139 yards total).
The Redskins enter Week 8 allowing the most fantasy points to opposing running backs (22.3 per game, ESPN scoring), including five rushing touchdowns to the position over their last two games. They have not allowed a boatload of yardage to running backs in recent weeks (74.8 rushing yards per game over their last four games), but the name of the game in fantasy is often touchdowns and opposing backs have had a lot of success in that area over the last two games.
Ball’s workload was greatest over the first four games of the season (39 carries), likely due in part to the fact the Broncos were comfortably ahead and won each game by at least 16 points. If Sunday’s game is similar, the rookie may see a fair amount of work in a late-game role and could find his way to the end zone for the first time in his NFL career.
I’m not advocating starting Ball over a more proven running back that is locked into more playing time and touches regardless of game situation, and there is some inherent risk in relying on any Broncos’ running back, Moreno included. But with six teams on a bye this week and quite a few viable starting running backs unavailable, Ball has some appeal as a risk/reward RB3 or flex in deep leagues.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.