Montee Ball Should Remain on Fantasy Football Bench Until Role Is Defined
Montee Ball was a pretty good sleeper in fantasy football drafts throughout the summer, but you should not start him Week 1.
Despite being selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, the rookie failed to separate himself from the pack during the preseason. This will lead to no one getting the bulk of carries to start the year. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network described situation:
Talked about #Broncos RB situation on Total Access: RB-by-committee on a drive-by-drive basis, not play-by-play. Guys can stay in & go fast.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 3, 2013
He will split time with Ronnie Hillman and Knowshon Moreno to start the year, two players who have the advantage of more time in the system.
Hillman had a solid rookie season last year as a change-of-pace back behind Willis McGahee, totaling 330 rushing yards. However, when the veteran went down with an injury, it was Moreno who took over at the end of the season and averaged 85 rushing yards over the final six games.
Still, the reason Ball will not get the starting nod has nothing to do with rushing ability. The former Wisconsin player is one of the most successful running backs in college history. In his last two seasons, he had 3,753 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns.
While he was limited to only 3.2 yards per carry in the preseason, he still led the team in carries and had the only rushing touchdown.
However, the issue is Ball's struggles in pass-blocking, something that is extremely important with Peyton Manning leading the Broncos offense.
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports points out that Denver has made pass-blocking a priority and the team cannot trust Ball until he gets that aspect of his game down. Fortunately, he is well aware of the problem, saying:
My problem is I'm coming from Wisconsin, a power school, and I had 900 carries in four years. Whenever I was out on the field, I was getting the ball a majority of the time. But with this offense and No. 18...
He's not RG3. He sets his feet and gets the pass off. Great things happen downfield when you protect him. That's the thing. When I mess up, I understand getting yelled at because you don't want a big hit on him. He's extremely valuable.
Admitting there is a problem is the first step. Correcting it is the second, but it seems like he is ready to learn.
Unfortunately, he is still not there yet, and the Broncos cannot take the chance of putting him out there for the entire game until he is a better pass-blocker. This is something Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler predicted earlier in the summer:
Quickest way to the bench for Ball. RT @cecillammey: Manning gets crushed by the blitz, slow getting up, Montee BAll misses the block— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) August 18, 2013
Denver has high expectations this season and cannot afford to lose Manning for any amount of time due to an injury. If Ball cannot protect him, someone else will get his playing time and, as a result, his carries.
This should take him out of fantasy lineups in the early going. It would be too risky to start a running back who might only get 10 carries in a game or maybe less. You would be better off finding an option with a more well-defined role, like fellow rookie Eddie Lacy.
Over the course of the season, Ball could end up becoming an extremely valuable fantasy player. The team obviously thinks highly of him after drafting him early on and releasing McGahee. However, he should remain on your bench until he becomes a full-time starter in real life.
Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?