In this weekly column, I typically explore some young players who haven’t made much of a consistent impact to date on their fantasy football teams. Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap or moderate trade. Acquiring or not acquiring one of these players could decide how well your dynasty or keeper team does for the next few years. This week I decided to watch the Denver Broncos second year running backs Montee Ball and CJ Anderson. While this week’s second and third year player report may seem a little off for dynasty fantasy football league waiver wires, it has a bigger purpose. These articles help find players that you might be willing to trade for before their values increase or decrease significantly.
Unfortunately for everyone, Montee Ball was an early selection in startup dynasty leagues from this spring/summer, and a top four rookie pick in 2013. According to many sources, the Broncos planned to commit to more of a balanced attack making trying to feature their running game more prominently. Against the Seahawks at Century Link Field, the Broncos found themselves in a hard-fought game and turned to Ball to shoulder more of the load. He runs hard and low to the ground, but on his first carry of the game, the pigskin got knocked from his grasp. This fumble appeared to haunt the back on his next offensive series. He seemed more hesitant to hit the hole and didn’t have any wiggle to his runs. The runner does a good job of getting small when he hits the line, has solid forward lean, but sometimes tries to much by doing too many spin moves in trying to get out of trouble. This usually isn’t very effective and it puts him in an awkward motion with hungry arms looking to separate the back from the ball.
In the passing game, Ball does a good job stepping up to take on blitzers on their way to Peyton Manning. The back catches the ball out in front with his soft hands and has decent vision to read the blocks downfield. When the runner gets directed, he can line up outside in five wide receiver sets and demand more than linebacker coverage. Ball sells his fakes well, freezing the defense to allow receivers to work down the field, so they have more time to get open. He is also a willing blocker who uses his body to run over defenders. That is not to say that the battering ram instincts from playing in the Big Ten, sometimes take over, and that is not always a good thing. I have serious doubts that Ball will be as dependable once Manning leaves. The wear and tear on his body is already showing in his second year. This is not surprising considering that he has almost 1,000 touches playing for Wisconsin.
On the other hand, CJ Anderson keeps crawling his way back into the Broncos good graces. He forces himself into the game plan, little by little. Anderson is a bigger, more physical back with good hands, who protects the football. He does not receive a lot of playing time, but runs hard with power when he does. The back never carried the full load in California but accumulated almost 1500 combined yards on 220 touches and 14 touchdowns in his two years there. Anderson is still on the raw side, but with more carries and a perhaps bigger piece of the pie, might be a better fit for the Broncos long-term. Considering the price, buy Anderson now.