While many Denver Broncos fans and fantasy football owners were so impressed with the 2013 comeback campaign of Knowshon Moreno, many people failed to notice the seamless changing of the guard that occurred towards the back end of the 2013 NFL regular season. Rookie Montee Ball made his presence felt in the Broncos’ backfield.
The former University of Wisconsin product entered the season with high expectations due to his illustrious college career and the fact that Moreno struggled to stay healthy over the past couple of years. During the first few games of the season, Ball had fumbling issues and was quickly relegated to Moreno’s backup. During the Broncos’ epic collapse in Week 12 against the New England Patriots, Moreno carried the ball a career-high 37 times for 224 yards, however, the fumbled during the same game and he was benched. Since then, the Broncos have played six games since Week 12, including the playoffs, and the situation looks much different. In that span of six games, Moreno and Ball have averaged 3.8 and 6.3 yards per carry, respectively.
When the Broncos head into the 2014 NFL season, it will be unclear who will be on the top of the depth chart in the backfield. Ball has proven himself to be the more natural runner out of the two, however, Moreno still has value as a pass protector and receiver out of the backfield. Towards the end of the 2013 regular season and postseason, it is clear that Ball has realized his potential and is developing into the difference maker that the Broncos realized he could be when they took him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Fantasy owners should view Ball as an underrated back heading into the 2014 regular season. Many owners may be scared off by his early season fumbling problems and Moreno’s revival. Given another year to work with Peyton Manning and the high powered Broncos offense, Ball should assume lead back duties from Moreno and take some pressure off of the passing game. If he is given the proper workload, Ball would be given a great opportunity to become a top-20 fantasy running back in 2014.