What Fantasy RB to Draft from Denver

Scott YagerContributor IAugust 17, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 23:  Running back Peyton Hillis #22 of the Denver Broncos tries to hold off linebacker Thomas Howard #53 as he rushes for a first down during week 12 NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on November 23, 2008 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

One of the most unsettled position battles is taking place in Denver and it is taking place at a major position. For the past several years Denver has been a very successful running team regardless of who the premier back was, or how much experience they had.

With a new head coach in place, it’s hard to say if running will be as important for the Broncos, but it’s safe to say almost every Bears team that Kyle Orton started for tended to depend on the run more often than not.

This is why Denver spent a high first-round pick on Knowshon Moreno out of Georgia. He joins Peyton Hillis, who was a surprise fantasy stud when he got on the field last year, as well as former fantasy disappointment Lamont Jordan and the lifetime backup from Philadelphia, Correll Buckhalter.

In a perfect world, Knowshon would gradually learn the office, slowly but surely secure the starting job and bust out as a fantasy superstar. If Denver fans begin to get flashbacks of how Clinton Portis began his rookie campaign in all star fashion, it’s hard to believe there will be room for any of the other guys to flourish.

However, if the rookie struggles don’t be surprised if McDaniels gives him less of the load, using him more like Darren McFadden was used in his first season in Oakland. Anyone who drafted McFadden last year knows that for when you had to pull the trigger on him in a fantasy draft, he was a major disappointment. If Moreno is as unstable a fantasy performer this year it will be detrimental to his owners, especially if they don’t bench him fast enough.

Rookies like Moreno tend to be very attractive merely on speculation, and thus, they normally get drafted at the same portion of the fantasy draft as safer picks who simply might not have as high as a ceiling.

If Moreno struggles or gets hurt, which is very possible, look for Peyton Hillis to slide back in there and pick up where he left off last year before being benched due to injury. He’s a real straightforward runner who gets first downs and plays full back as well. He should get a few goal line carries even if he doesn’t start. Look for Jordan to get some goal line attempts as well, but unless he makes the most of them he could be cut before the start of the year.

As far as the position battle for running back goes in Denver, be sure to keep your ears pealed during the preseason and after the final game to see whom McDaniels is giving the keys to.

Don’t take it with more than a grain of salt though.

Even if Moreno is not named starter he could still emerge and even if he does, he could struggle. One flyer you might want to take is on Hillis in a very late round, as he does not even get drafted in most leagues. If he gets off to a hot start with whatever type of playing time he gets, look for him to be a solid number three running back all year. In deep leagues this could be very valuable especially since so many “guaranteed starters” end up getting hurt and running your fantasy team midway through the year.

Having stored a guy in a position battle and kept him until he finally breaks out is something that can be a very valuable insurance policy.

Moreno shouldn't go earlier than round six. Much safer picks are guys like Lendale White or Fred Taylor.

Hillis could be a nice stash away and should be taken very very late.

Jordan and Buckhalter don't need to be drafted right now.