Is Knowshon Moreno Worth an Early Fantasy Football Draft Pick?

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IAugust 22, 2009

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JUNE 12:  Free agent running back Correll Buckhalter #28 chats with first round draft pick running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos during minicamp practice at the Broncos Dove Valley training facility on June 12, 2009 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

This is Part 2 of a three part series that will analyze the fantasy impact of the 2009 rookie class. This week, we’re going to examine the notable freshmen running backs before wrapping up next week with the WR/TE class.

Knowshon Moreno - First Round, 12th Overall -Denver Broncos

Scouting Report

Moreno may not have prototypical RB size, but watching him, he seems to play much bigger than he is. Though he doesn’t have blazing, game breaking speed, Moreno is a tough runner who is faster in pads than his 40 time (4.62 at The Combine) suggests.

Moreno’s greatest asset is the fact that he is widely regarded to be an every down RB. His exceptional skills in pass protection and receiving mean he won’t be off the field very often.

Moreno is a very physical player who doesn’t take plays off. He’s definitely a between the tackles runner and playing his college ball in the elite SEC Conference will certainly assist his transition to the NFL.

He’s a very well rounded, complete RB and scouts rave about his intangibles. Absolutely no one was surprised to see him be the first RB drafted this year.

2009 Fantasy Outlook

The Denver Broncos are going to give Moreno every opportunity to be a three down back this season. Under Mike Shannahan, Denver RBs were as sure a thing as death and taxes. Time will tell if that holds true for the new regime.

Despite the presence of veterans Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan, Moreno will be starting sooner rather than later. He should be the first rookie drafted in fantasy football leagues this year and should make a solid RB3 and maybe even RB2 this season.

Keeper League Outlook

I am not willing to say that Moreno is the most talented RB in this draft class. I am not yet certain he has the most upside or the highest ceiling. I will say, however, he is the most well rounded and NFL ready RB from this draft.

The major flaw in most rookie RBs is they are weak in pass protection and have poor receiving skills. Moreno excels at both.

Moreno’s long term value and potential is difficult to assess. While he most definitely has the skills and potential to be a solid top 15 RB, his success will be determined by the supporting cast he is given in Denver.

The Broncos have a rookie head coach, they don’t have a franchise QB, their most talented offensive player wants out, and their best RB is a rookie. Moreno’s future is bright, albeit a bit fuzzy.

As far as this draft class is concerned, Moreno is the safest RB to take in a keeper or dynasty league.

Donald Brown - First Round, 27th Overall - Indianapolis Colts

Scouting Report

Brown is a good all around RB with above average speed (4.51 at The Combine) and a knack for breaking tackles. He has solid receiving skills and displays good vision when running.

Brown was impressive in agility drills at The Combine and showed he can be explosive while leading the nation in rushing at Connecticut last season.

With a build similar to Moreno, Brown doesn’t have prototypical RB size, but he is a very fluid and instinctive runner. Overall, a very similar skill set to Moreno.

2009 Fantasy Outlook

The Colts surprised everyone in taking Brown since most people thought they would use their 1st round pick to replace Marvin Harrison. Most agree that Joseph Addai’s inability to stay on the field and mediocrity when on the field was the major factor in Bill Polian selecting Brown.

Even though Addai has been quite ordinary over the last two seasons, he will start the season as Indy’s No. 1 RB. That means that if Addai is finally able to stay healthy, Brown will be facing an RBBC in Indianapolis this year and as long as Addai is a Colt.

That being said, Brown should still be the third rookie RB taken in fantasy football drafts this season. Even if Addai stays healthy (highly unlikely), Brown will still see enough action to be a solid RB3 this season and an absolutely critical handcuff for Addai owners. 

Keeper League Outlook

Brown may actually have the most long term upside of any RB in this draft class. Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark are all signed through the 2012 season, all but assuring the Colts’ offense will remain potent for the next few years.

Addai’s injury history and fairly average production should create opportunities for Brown to emerge as the feature RB in Indianapolis. I could easily see Brown developing into an elite, top 10 fantasy football RB in a few years.

Chris “Beanie” Wells - First Round, 31st Overall - Arizona Cardinals

Scouting Report

Wells, a product of The Ohio State University, has the perfect mix of size (6-1, 235 lbs.) and speed (4.4 40 time at Pro Day Workout). Projected to be drafted in the first 15 picks, consistency and durability issues nearly caused Wells to fall out of the 1st round.

His receiving skills also leave quite a bit to be desired. His upright, high pad level running style leads to a lot of unnecessary wear and tear and Wells doesn’t always run with the power you’d expect from a man of his size.

Despite these concerns, Beanie is the most physically gifted RB in this draft class.

2009 Fantasy Outlook

The defending NFC Champions were thrilled when Wells fell to them at 31st overall. Arizona’s running game was pathetic last season and its amazing Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and company were able to overcome such a significant deficiency and make it to the Super Bowl.

Wells may have more upside than Moreno and Brown this season simply because it wouldn’t take much for him to win the starting job. Tim Hightower had every opportunity last season to establish himself as Arizona’s RB of the future, but instead was pitiful over the second half of the season.

Needless to say, the door is wide open for Beanie to burst onto the scene. He should be the second rookie RB taken in most fantasy football leagues and could be a solid RB2 this season should he win the starting job and stay healthy.

Keeper League Outlook

No one has ever questioned Beanie’s abilities or potential. They have, however, questioned his reliability and durability. Playing in Arizona’s wide open, pass happy aerial attack will certainly open up opportunities for a healthy Beanie Wells to run wild on opponents.

Wells is the ultimate long term boom or bust in this crop of rookie RBs. I think the reward far outweighs the risk. Beanie has the talent and physical ability to become an elite, top 10 RB.


Is Knowshon Moreno Worth an Early Fantasy Football Draft Pick?