Knowshon Moreno's Updated Fantasy Outlook Heading into Week 14

Shehan Peiris@@shehan_peiris_Correspondent IIIDecember 2, 2013

Knowshon Moreno is a must-start running back for the fantasy playoffs.
Knowshon Moreno is a must-start running back for the fantasy playoffs.Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Knowshon Moreno didn’t have his best day on the ground against the Kansas City Chiefs, gaining only 18 yards on his 15 carries, which was good for an average of 1.2 yards per carry. Despite those paltry numbers, he still managed to cement himself as a top-tier fantasy running back that you must start moving forward.

The next few weeks are the fantasy playoffs in most leagues, so there is bound to be some hair-pulling and overreaction to how Week 13 unfolded. In some cases it's warranted, but not for Knowshon Moreno.

Moreno wasn’t able to pick up any yards on the ground, but he did catch four passes for 72 yards and a touchdown, which saved his fantasy owners. It was his second receiving touchdown of the year, but he has been a productive receiver for Peyton Manning in many games.

Knowshon Moreno the Receiver
WeekReceptionsReceiving Yards

Owners will rightfully cast a wary glance towards the gaudy stat line posted by Denver Broncos rookie Montee Ball. The Wisconsin product picked up 117 yards on 13 carries at nine yards per clip.

Despite the huge disparity in rushing success between Moreno and Ball, it won’t result in a decreased role for Moreno moving forward. Ball may start to get a few more carries, but Moreno is still the main man in the backfield.

The reasons for this are threefold. Firstly, the Denver offense runs through Peyton Manning. This means the running back that sees the majority of snaps needs to be effective in the passing gameboth as a receiver and as a pass-blocker.

Ball may eventually become a three-down back, but he isn’t one just yet. The rookie has only 64 receiving yards on the year, which is less than what Moreno picked up in Week 13 alone.

Moreno vs. Ball in 2013
PlayerPFF Receiving Grade
Knowshon Moreno+4.0
Montee Ball-2.7

Secondly, it’s not like Moreno has had a bad year running the ball by any means. He has gained 842 yards on the ground and scored nine rushing touchdowns in 2013. Not to mention, just two weeks ago he rushed for 224 yards against the New England Patriots.

Ball may have found more success against the Chiefs, but it would be a knee-jerk reaction for the Denver coaching staff to decrease Moreno’s playing time.

Lastly, as we’ve already seen with Ronnie Hillman, fumbling is the quickest way into the doghouse for any running back. Moreno has only fumbled once all year in 244 touches, and he didn’t turn over the football on that occasion.

Ball, on the other hand, has lost three fumbles in his 97 touches, including one in Week 12 against the Patriots.

All of these factors point to Moreno remaining the primary running back in the Broncos offense, and there is no reason to deviate from what's worked all year.

Knowshon Moreno has received the bulk of the snaps since Ronnie Hillman was benched in Week 8.
Knowshon Moreno has received the bulk of the snaps since Ronnie Hillman was benched in Week

Ball’s performance against the Chiefs was an anomaly, and it won’t affect the status of Moreno (in reality or in fantasy terms) moving forward.

Moreno’s versatility makes him the No. 1 running back for the Denver Broncos, and such a prominent role in the league’s most devastating offense will create plenty of opportunities for him to rack up stats and fantasy points.

Furthermore, his Week 14 matchup against the Tennessee Titans is a very favorable one. According to ESPN, the Titans are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs (in standard leagues).

Moreno's value is even higher in PPR leagues since he is such a great receiver. The matchup, the role and the explosive Broncos offense mean that Moreno is a no-brainer for Week 14.

Start him and reap the benefits.