Back in March, ex-Denver Broncos’ running back Knowshon Moreno left the frigid air of the Rocky Mountains for the opportunity to spend this season in sunny South Beach, and believe me, he’s not crying about it.  His one-year deal didn’t take over the media the way another famous athlete did when he left a championship runner-up so he could play in Miami, but it did make his former backup with the Broncos a hot commodity in fantasy football drafts.

Despite gaining just 559 yards on 120 carries in 2013, Montee Ball was the 10th overall player taken in this year’s drafts (according to ADP).  The volume wasn’t there for the rookie out of Wisconsin (Moreno excelled as Peyton Manning‘s go-to back), but you could feel the electricity with Ball.  He had some early-season fumble issues in goal line situations (two in his first three games), but his 4.7 yards per carry was definitely something he could build on. Manning and the Broncos broke nearly every offensive record last year, and that’s a big reason why the second-year pro became such a popular draft pick — but Ball’s season is going down the drain faster than a goldfish with an irresponsible four-year-old for a parent.

Not only had Ball been downright awful in his first three games (165 yards, 3.37 YPC), but he left Sunday’s contest vs. the Cardinals with a groin strain.  News broke that the injury was “a significant one”, but that was later changed to a “two-week timetable”.  Based on what I’ve seen from injuries like this before, as well as his current conditioning (he missed nearly all of training camp after an emergency appendectomy), this has the makings of a much longer absence than what the Broncos are letting on.

So what do you do if you’re a Ball owner?

Montee Ball | FindTheBest

The first thing would be to add either Ronnie Hillman or C.J. Anderson.  Even Juwan Thompson is worth a look in much deeper leagues.  In relief of Ball on Sunday, Hillman had 15 carries for 64 yards, and Thompson, an undrafted rookie from Duke, ran the ball three times for 15 yards and a score.  Anderson was inactive for the game, but only because he doesn’t play on special teams, so you shouldn’t necessarily use that as a gauge of who will be on the receiving end of the bulk of the carries.  Hillman should be given first crack to lead the rushing attack, but Anderson might be the better overall back in the long term.  While Hillman is still just 23 years old, he’s looked rather unimpressive when given opportunities in the past, so aside from having more experience than the other two, there isn’t much that stands out. Hillman is the top add here due to his position on the depth chart, but if he’s not available, I’d definitely make a claim for Anderson.  Thompson is a guy you may be able to grab once the waiver period has passed.  It can’t hurt to stash him on your roster if you have a backup tight end you can drop.  John Fox isn’t Mike Shanahan, but Denver has a serious history of making stars out of rookie running backs.

Be aware that the above statement applies almost exclusively to Ball owners.  If you are just looking for running backs in general, Week 5 breakout backs like Branden Oliver, Andre Williams, and Storm Johnson would be higher on my free agent priority list.

For Ball owners, though, after you’ve grabbed one of those Broncos’ backs, you now have to decide where that puts Ball in terms of rosterability.  Since the Broncos already had their bye, you won’t get any free weeks to see how things sort out.  You obviously can’t drop him now, and trading him would net you close to nothing.  In nearly all cases, you’re gonna have to wait.  More news is sure to come out by Thursday and we will almost definitely hear an update in terms of the next step in his recovery by Wednesday of next week.  He’ll be out a minimum of two games — that is something you should count on — and it will probably be more than that, too.  But don’t get all drop happy or start shipping off players in a moment of desperation.  Many owners are already in freakout mode.  I see the questions flying around Twitter, “I’m 2-3 and just lost X player to injury, should I trade Y for Z?”  The 1-4 owners have far more reason to push the panic button, but if you’re 2-3 or better, remember, we’re barely halfway into Week 6.  There’s still a long way to go, and making an impulsive trade probably won’t help things at all.  In a best-case scenario, let’s say Ball misses three weeks and is back on the field in Week 9, his first two matchups will be vs. the Patriots and Raiders — owners of the eighth and 11th-worst defenses against RBs in fantasy football.

Montee Ball’s owners will be put to a decision in the next couple of weeks.  Will they stay the course with their first-round draft pick or will they flee like a dog smelling his own fart?  One way or another, how they choose to respond to this crisis could help shape their team’s outcome for the rest of their season.

 

Follow SethDaSportsMan on Twitter at, you guessed it, @SethDaSportsMan, for quality fantasy sports advice and the deepest veneration of all things Nicolas Cage

  1. Tim says:
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    Have a trade question. 10 team ppr, have cutler and Ryan (both week 9 bye) , my wr are Julio, Jordy, Keenan, Michael Floyd and Watkins, rb are Forte, Bradshaw, Vereen, joique, and stream spot, been streaming te with Jordan Reed sitting in IR spot. I also have Josh Gordon in an IR spot. Best record, most points, but would like to upgrade rb. Made an offer to McCoy owner and was countered with McCoy and cousins for Cutler, Keenan and Bradshaw. What do you think?

    • Barker says:
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      @Tim: do it ryan / cutler cancel each other out anyway on your team and you are starting ryan prolly regardless of matchup— would you do mccoy for keenan and ahmad because i would

    • SethDaSportsMan

      SethDaSportsMan says:
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      @Tim: Id do that in a heartbeat. Dont need Cutler anyway with Ryan on board. With Julio and Jordy, you hardly need Keenan

      • Tim says:
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        @SethDaSportsMan: not that you asked, but thought I would give a follow-up. Accepted trade, but vetoed by the league. I plead my case, pointing out in our league, Cutler is #3 qb, Bradshaw is #6 rb and McCoy is #26. The commissioner said it was too one-sided and I said I agreed it was, was but I was okay being on the bad side. Someone actually said I vetoed it because it helped both teams. This league has become my number one league that I will do everything I can to win.

  2. Zandy says:
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    std league Stacy question
    dropping khiry, west or pierre for cunningham(own stacy), DMC, Shonn (stacy fill in), CJ anderson, joseph randle, Winn, storm

    other rbs stacy, doug, rainey, ingram, AP, rainey, mckinnon
    thanks bud

    • SethDaSportsMan

      SethDaSportsMan says:
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      @Zandy: Drop Peterson for Cunningham and Khiry for Storm

  3. Clint says:
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    Maybe I’m being an optimist here as a Ball owner but considering how tough their schedule vs the run is the next few weeks, this could turn out the best for Montee. No one will snatch the lead dog role & the run game will still look stifled without him, securing his role as lead back when he returns. Then, when he does get back, the schedule softens vs the run, allowing him to reclaim his spot with hopefully 1st round numbers we hoped for at the draft of him.

    • Barker says:
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      @Clint: in the consolation round

    • SethDaSportsMan

      SethDaSportsMan says:
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      @Clint: I agree. Thats why Ball owners gotta sit tight

  4. Chuckles Tiddlesworth says:
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    With Brees on bye, who should I roll with this weekend?

    Cam @CIN
    Big Ben @CLE
    Tannehill vGB

    Thanks!

  5. friar says:
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    Thanks for the great analysis! The Ball owner in my 12-team non-ppr league obviously failed to read your wise words and dropped Ball last night. Even though Ball has been thoroughly unimpressive, and I agree with you that we may not see him back for a while, I feel like I have to submit a waiver claim for the former first rounder. Right?

    My dilemma is that I think my two weakest RBs (Rainey and Anderson) have legit chances to break out over the next couple weeks while Ball is recovering. I feel less trepidation dropping the frustrating Torrey Smith, but with Megatron hurt I’m not sure I should reduce my roster to just 3 healthy WRs.

    Who would you recommend I drop for Ball?

    RB: Charles, L. Bell, Bernard, Mathews (injured), Moreno (injured), Rainey, C.J. Anderson
    WR: C. Johnson (injured), Hopkins, T. Williams, Welker, T. Smith

    • SethDaSportsMan

      SethDaSportsMan says:
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      @friar: I dont see a situation where you would ever start Anderson, so Id be dropping him for Ball

  6. CatalinaWineMixer says:
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    12 team ppr

    My current WR are Calvin, Cruz, G. Jennings, Justin hunter

    RBs Gio, Bradshaw, Doug Martin, west, Crowell

    I was offered:

    Calvin for R. Wayne, K. Moreno, M. Ball.

    With Calvin hobbled I’m tempted to accept as he might not be right unless he sits out a few games and with Moreno coming back soon and Ball was first round talent, is it worth it?

    • SethDaSportsMan

      SethDaSportsMan says:
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      @CatalinaWineMixer: I think it depends on where you are in the standings and how your schedule looks going forward. If you’re in the 1-4 range, Id make that trade, but if you’re 3-2 or better, I’d hold off. Rather keep a hurt Calvin than acquire a hurt Ball (and Moreno to some extent)

  7. Aubrey Plaza's Pillow says:
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    ball never really should have been considered a 1st round pick, see Jaywrong and other’s posts about this. i can see owners of him around here mostly being those who got a really cheap keeper price on him from last year’s being waivered. Ball being a first rounder is about as silly as how low bell started going after the weed arrest.

    • SethDaSportsMan

      SethDaSportsMan says:
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      @Aubrey Plaza’s Pillow: Im with you there. I had Ball in the 14-16 range during drafts. I was only stating WHY he became a popular 1st round choice

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