Montee Ball RB DEN 9 Days7 Comments

Peyton Manning said Montee Ball is ready to be the starting running back.

The Broncos wouldn't have let Knowshon Moreno walk for pennies if Ball didn't have Manning's blessing. We saw that faith in the playoffs last season, when Ball played on 91-of-226 (40.2 percent) of the snaps. Stubborn fantasy owners are going to remember Ball's blown blitz pickup from the preseason and back-to-back fumbles in Weeks 2 and 3, but the Broncos have forgotten about that long ago. Both the coaching staff and Peyton are ready to ride with the physical second-year man as their feature back.

Montee Ball RB DEN 10 Days30 Comments

Montee Ball had zero fumbles on his first 802 touches at Wisconsin.

Montee Ball RB DEN 28 Days1 Comment

Of Knowshon Moreno's 241 carries last season, 192 (79.7 percent) came against defenses playing six or fewer defenders in the box.

Moreno ranked 53rd in carries against seven-plus defenders in the box, despite ranking 13th in the league in total carries. Montee Ball won't necessarily be handed the same exact role -- the sophomore runner must prove to Peyton Manning that he won't fumble and can consistently pass protect -- but this is a mouth-watering situation for Ball's fantasy value. As for alternatives, C.J. Anderson ended 2013 ahead of Ronnie Hillman on Denver's depth chart. Anderson currently holds more Dynasty and re-draft "sleeper" value than Hillman.

Montee Ball RB DEN 28 Days

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Broncos "believe in" Montee Ball.

With Knowshon Moreno now a Dolphin, Ball finds himself atop the depth chart. The Denver Post reported earlier this month that Ball will get the first crack at starting this season. Ball struggled with ball security and pass protection early as a rookie, but closed out strong, averaging 5.87 yards per carry over his final 65 rushes. For the year, Ball's YPC was an impressive 4.66. Ball has monstrous fantasy upside in the Broncos' Peyton Manning-led offense.

Montee Ball RB DEN 2 Months

The Denver Post says the Broncos "want to give [Montee] Ball the first chance at becoming their No. 1 running back in 2014."

At this point, it would be a major surprise if the Broncos re-sign free agent Knowshon Moreno. They'll wisely turn to Ball, who rushed 65 times for 382 yards (5.87 YPC) with three touchdowns and added 18 catches for 118 yards with another score over the final eight games of last year. He'll only be "pushed" by the likes of C.J. Anderson, Ronnie Hillman and a lower tier free agent the Broncos add. Pencil Ball in as the lead back in a Peyton Manning offense, giving him first-round fantasy upside.

Montee Ball RB DEN 2 Months

Broncos coach John Fox stated at the Combine that he anticipates "big improvement" from Montee Ball in his second season.

Even on the off chance Knowshon Moreno returns, Ball will receive every opportunity to win Denver's lead back job after averaging 4.66 YPC as a rookie. (Moreno checked in at 4.31). "Obviously we think very highly of him," Fox said. "I thought he had tremendous growth. ... He got better with every week. We look for a big improvement next year and think he's very, very capable."

Montee Ball RB DEN 2 Months1 Comment

Montee Ball hopes to start in 2014, and "(wants) the football every time."

"I think I'm going to have a great offseason, and I'm going to have a better season next year for sure," Ball said. Ball was far more effective in the second half of 2013, but slumped in the playoffs, averaging 3.4 yards on 28 carries. During the regular season, he averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and 5.9 over his final eight games. With free agent Knowshon Moreno not terribly likely to return, Ball is in good position to get his starting wish. The Broncos have lost all faith in Ronnie Hillman.

Montee Ball RB DEN 3 Months

Montee Ball rushed six times for one yard and caught two passes for two yards in Denver's blowout Super Bowl loss to Seattle.

Ball's first touch came midway through the first quarter and gained just one on a screen, where the rookie was buried by Seahawks DE Michael Bennett. He had two yards on two carries at the half, and Denver was forced to abandon the run in the final two quarters due to a monster deficit. Finishing his rookie year with an impressive 4.66 YPC average, Ball outplayed Knowshon Moreno down the stretch of 2013-2014 and will enter the offseason as the Broncos' favorite to handle feature back duties. Moreno is a free agent, leaving Ball to fend off inferior Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson for snaps.

Montee Ball RB DEN 3 Months

Montee Ball admitted that the Broncos playbook was overwhelming initially.

Many observers, including us, expected Ball to step right in as the feature back for the Broncos in Week 1. In hindsight, that was overly optimistic as he came from Wisconsin's simple run-first scheme. "Just going from a college playbook to an NFL playbook is very difficult, but going from a college playbook to Peyton Manning's playbook is a whole another story," Ball said. As the season moved along, he gradually grasped his responsibilities and established himself as a trustworthy complement to Knowshon Moreno. Expect 9-13 touches in the Super Bowl for Ball and a possible starting role in 2014 as Moreno hits free agency.

Montee Ball RB DEN 3 Months

Montee Ball rushed 12 times for 43 yards and caught three passes for 13 yards in Denver's AFC title game win over New England.

Ball handled three straight deep red-zone runs in the second quarter, but was stuffed before Peyton Manning hit Jacob Tamme for a one-yard touchdown. Now the clear-cut lesser half of a committee with Knowshon Moreno, Ball has generally played well in the role but isn't threatening Moreno's lead back status. As Moreno is an impending free agent, Ball's progress should continue to be monitored by forward-thinking fantasy owners. Moreno also suffered a late-game chest injury against the Pats, though the extent is unknown.