Drafted in the second round back in 2013, Montee Ball was brought in to give Knowshon Moreno some competition. Moreno ended up getting the brunt of the work for the entirety of the season, so coming in to 2014, fantasy owners should be uncertain of what to expect out of Ball.
For one, the Denver Broncos a passing team. As long as they have the ridiculous amount of weapons they do now, running will always be the second option. You have Peyton Manning, you throw the ball, which brings up the first issue fantasy owners should concern themselves with…
Moreno essentially won the job last year because he was a flat out better blocker. If Ball wants to remain the consistent starter, he is going to have to fill the void and improve in this aspect of the game.
More importantly, Ball has to be able to hold onto the football. Fumbling served to be a bit of a concern for the rookie back last year as he coughed it up three times. On the bright side, two out of the three happened very early on in the year. Thus, if he can continue to progress, critics knocking his ability to hold onto the football may want to reconsider their stance.
After missing some time with an appendectomy, the main focus right now is to get Ball up to speed with the first team offense while getting him an appropriate and safe amount of reps. While the Broncos want him to be ready for Week 1, they also don’t want to rush it and risk anything.
The outlook: Montee Ball carried the ball 120 times last year, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on 559 yards. While he did fumble three times, only two were on rushing attempts and both occurred early on in the year. Ball security doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem for the second-year back. What’s concerning is his health and ability to be on the same page for Week 1.
Personally, I don’t trust him yet. I wouldn’t want him as my first or second option at running back, but a third option or flex spot would be fitting. Remember, Moreno scored 13 touchdowns last year. No offense, but we’re not talking about Marshall Faulk or LT here. With a historic offense run by arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time, Ball’s fantasy ceiling is as high as they come. However, fantasy owners have every reason to be wary of an unproven back in a pass-heavy offense.
The verdict: A must-draft like anyone else on that Broncos’ offense, but he should be taken in the mid-to-later rounds. I’m not ready to name him a top-10 back yet like a lot of other guys.