Connect with us

Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football: Knowshon Moreno Arrives In South Beach, Montee Ball Rejoices

Rich Hribar looks at how Knowshon Moreno’s move to Miami affects his fantasy football outlook, as well as that of Montee Ball and Lamar Miller.

Knowshon Moreno
Knowshon Moreno

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

One of my favorite movies growing up was Clue, as it spawned my love for Tim Curry (the guy was freaking Pennywise in It). Everyone is pretty familiar with the movie that was based on the popular board game in which you have to go around and collect information in deducing the person, room and weapon of a murder.

It was a great game and an even better movie. That isn’t debatable.

Other Fantasy Free Agency news:
Fantasy Football: Ben Tate, Recency Bias and The Young Shanahan
Fantasy Football: Can Golden Tate Be Calvin Johnson’s Right Hand Man?
Fantasy Football: Rashad Jennings and the Fall of David Wilson
Fantasy Football: Donald Brown in San Diego
Fantasy Football: Eric Decker, The Jets, And The Infinite Sadness

Well in that movie, the aforementioned Curry has this long-winded, frenetic scene in which he explains what happened during the dinner party.

When Knowshon Moreno finally landed in Miami yesterday, inking a one year deal to play in South Beach, football Twitter was just as quick twitch and all over the place with their reactions.  We were all everywhere in examining what that signing meant for the fantasy prospects of not only Moreno, but also for Lamar Miller, Montee Ball, and possibly C.J. Anderson.

Knowshon Moreno With The Dagger In Sun Life Stadium

Moreno was nearly on his way out of the NFL in 2012 after failing to fully bounce back from multiple knee injuries that sidelined him in 2011, preventing him from fulfilling the promise after being drafted 12th overall in 2009. Denver had brought in Willis McGahee the year before and just drafted Ronnie Hillman, a trendy sleeper pick at the time.

When McGahee went down with an injury himself in 2012 and Denver didn’t fully trust giving the keys to Hillman, Moreno averaged 17.4 PPR points over the final six weeks. Last offseason, Denver added Ball in the second round and Hillman was entering year two, making Moreno forgotten again. We tried to warn you at XN not to forget about him in fantasy drafts, and alas, he finished 2013 as fourth highest scoring fantasy back.

Moreno will be 27 years old this July and expected to make his pass protection and pass catching acumen into finding the field frequently for the Dolphins. Moreno had 60 receptions a season ago, averaging 3.8 per game after his career average was 2.2 per contest. He also scored 13 touchdowns.

There’s virtually a zero percent chance that either of those numbers are approached this coming season as his fantasy output manifested from his direct involvement with Peyton Manning.

In the highest scoring offense in NFL history, Moreno topped 80 yards rushing only three times. He played behind Pro Football Focus’ eighth ranked offensive line (credit to Peyton Manning here as well) while Miami ranked 29th in that regard. Even if he does find his way close to 200 carries again, we’ve likely seen the only 1,000-yard rushing season from him in his career.

Dolphin backs accrued 65 total targets in the passing game last year, so there’s opportunity for him to still be a really poor man’s fantasy version of Pierre Thomas with more scores in Miami. Longtime quarterback coach Bill Lazor will be taking over coordinator duties, but it’s hard to point to him really involving backs in the passing game giving the prior offenses he’s been associated with at the NFL level. In college however, he called plays for three seasons in Virginia and lead back Perry Jones snagged 128 receptions in those seasons.

Receptions are the key to getting anything out of Moreno in fantasy in 2014 barring injury, but does he twist the knife in the value of Miller?

Miller, like David Wilson, was incredibly over drafted a season ago. Like Wilson, Miller sports freaky athleticism, posting one the highest speed scores coupled with a great agility score in pre-draft workouts. Neither came to fruition for owners a season ago, as Miller totaled only 879 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on only 203 touches.

The Moreno signing is a best case scenario for Miller hopefuls, though. With the short one year deal given to Moreno, Miami is likely foregoing an early round selection of a back this year, which would’ve been a sell that they were near completely moving on from Miller himself.

That is signaling that they very well could still believe in the talent that Miller has and that they are committed to giving him an extra life as an early down option.

That’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Miller, because it’s already a given he’s going to lose passing downs if not more to Moreno. But Daniel Thomas is still there as well, a guy Miller couldn’t hit with the candlestick a season ago. Thomas still has one year left on his rookie deal and would only save Miami a little over $800K if released. Odds are that he finishes out his painful run.

It’s very well possible that Thomas can still be involved short yardage and near the paint, making this backfield a complete disaster for fantasy owners. Joe Philbin has shown affection for boring running back production throughout his NFL tenure, and Thomas was effective given his goal line chances a season ago. Moreno was effective as well, but he nearly tripled the opportunities of Thomas in an offense led by Manning and is giving away ten pounds to the 225 pound Thomas.

2013 Rush Att. Inside the 5-Yard Line

Player

Att.

TD

Moreno

15

7

Thomas

6

4

Miller

5

1

 

All of this information currently makes this entire backfield avoidable for redraft purposes. There will very likely be enough Miller supporters that still believe in his athleticism and enough Moreno detractors to prevent Miller falling into the home run swing area of your drafts. On the other end, there are still very likely enough Miller non-believers that will reach for Moreno too early as well. If you’d like to pursue either, it would have to be in a situation where the draft came to you.

Montee Ball With The Lead Pipe To His ADP

The other fantasy option this has a major effect on is Ball. We could see towards the end of the year a season ago as Ball was finding the field more frequently that Denver was comfortable moving on from Moreno.

Denver Rush Att. Final Five Weeks of 2013

Player

Att.

Yards

YPC

Ball

45

297

6.6

Moreno

54

214

4

 

Detractors may point to ball security, but Ball fumbled only once in his final 147 touches a season ago.  Many others will point to Ball not being strong in pass protection as limiting his ceiling coming into 2014. That has some merit but given that Moreno was in pass protection just 86 times (11.9 percent of offensive snaps per PFF) while Ball blocked on 45 (14.3 percent of his snaps) in a season in which Denver was missing top five tackle Ryan Clady, it’s far from a death knell to his endeavors.  Clady’s return helps Ball in not only in alleviating his role as a blocker, but also in the run game. Clady is a far superior pass protector than he is in the run game, but he’s an upgrade over Chris Clark.

Many, including myself, believe Ball is just a mediocre talent. That is nearly completely irrelevant though given his opportunity to play in the Denver offense. Fellow XN scribe, C.D. Carter illustrated what playing in the Denver running attack can do for a back last summer when they drafted Ball, and little has changed except for Alex Gibbs’  departure now we know he will be the lead horse.

The other magical element in overcoming so-so talent is being attached to Peyton Manning. Peyton isn’t just the kind of quarterback who makes stars out of his receivers, but his cerebral dissection of a defense pre-snap puts his backs in accommodating conditions in the run and pass game.

Production Of Running Backs Associated With Manning

Player

Year

FantPt

Att

Yds

TD

Rec

Yds

TD

Marshall Faulk

1998

279.7

324

1319

6

86

908

4

Edgerrin James

1999

307.9

369

1553

13

62

586

4

Edgerrin James

2000

335.3

387

1709

13

63

594

5

Dominic Rhodes

2001

180.8

233

1104

9

34

224

0

Edgerrin James

2001

102.5

151

662

3

24

193

0

Edgerrin James

2002

150.3

277

989

2

61

354

1

James Mungro

2002

86.7

97

336

8

13

81

0

Edgerrin James

2003

216.1

310

1259

11

51

292

0

Edgerrin James

2004

253.1

334

1548

9

51

483

0

Edgerrin James

2005

266.3

360

1506

13

44

337

1

Joseph Addai

2006

186.6

226

1081

7

40

325

1

Dominic Rhodes

2006

116.2

187

641

5

36

251

0

Joseph Addai

2007

235.6

261

1072

12

41

364

3

Dominic Rhodes

2008

140

152

538

6

45

302

3

Joseph Addai

2008

116

155

544

5

25

206

2

Joseph Addai

2009

198.3

219

828

10

51

336

3

Joseph Addai

2010

83.9

116

495

4

19

124

0

Donald Brown

2010

82.2

129

497

2

20

205

0

Javarris James

2010

52.5

46

112

6

9

63

0

Willis McGahee

2012

113.2

167

731

4

26

221

0

Knowshon Moreno

2012

91.2

139

525

4

21

167

0

Knowshon Moreno

2013

236.6

241

1038

10

60

548

3

Montee Ball

2013

88.4

120

559

4

20

145

0

 

Remember when James Mungro ran for eight touchdowns filling in for Edgerrin James? How about Dominic Rhodes being a top 12 fantasy back? Manning inflates talent level and fantasy stock. Anything and everything you can imagine for Ball’s outlook regardless of your personal inclination on his ability, Manning helps him overcome that.

It is possible that second year back C.J. Anderson finds the finds the field as he earned the trust of the staff to be active over Ronnie Hillman for the majority of the season. He’s a wrecking ball at 224 pounds with good feet and agility. Judging by the chart above, it won’t be dire to Ball’s outlook if Anderson is involved, there’s plenty to go around. While we can undoubtedly expect the Denver offense to have natural regression, it would be a major upset if they still weren’t one of the highest scoring teams next season.

Price point will push many away, because Ball now immediately becomes a top 20 selection in yearly leagues, if not higher. That is the iron price, but it’s not farfetched at all to think he can still outperform an early second round selection given the current field of aging producing runners and other sophomore backs. If I’m a team that lands one of the big six receivers in the early portion of the draft, foregoing the top backs, I would have no issue going with Ball in the next round as my lead fantasy option. I may not love Ball’s talent, but the facts have changed for his fantasy outlook, and when the facts change, I change with them.

Click to comment

More in Fantasy Football