Knowshon Moreno is gone to the Miami Dolphins and Montee Ball is now the new main man in the Denver Broncos’ backfield. We get that.
At least on paper, Ball is set up to be a stud in fantasy football leagues. Even if it doesn’t end up quite that way, he’s at least being drafted as such – going in the first or second round in most fantasy mock drafts.
It’s understandable, too, since Ball is taking over the very same role Moreno had, and Moreno ended 2013 as fantasy’s fifth best fantasy running back. Naturally, fantasy owners are holding out hope (or betting the farm) that Ball will hit on that type of production, or even better.
But with Ball’s projected ascension comes the ascension of someone else. Even if Ball takes over that monster role and meets expectations, there has to be someone behind him to pick up the scraps just like Ball did last year as a rookie.
If Ball is going to fill Moreno’s fantasy shoes and dazzle fantasy owners with top-five production (or even anything remotely close to it), it’s fairly safe to assume that another running back behind him will come close to the numbers Ball did a year ago.
Those numbers were good enough to put Ball in 42nd place among fantasy backs. Considering he was never a starter, cracking the top-50 isn’t all that bad. That made him a decent Flex play depending on the week, which clearly made him worth rostering, as well.
That means it’s very likely either Ronnie Hillman or C.J. Anderson will take over Ball’s old role and also carry solid Flex value in 2014. Denver’s offense really is that potent, while there is always that upside that comes with being a handcuff to Ball. If Ball were to go down with an injury or play poorly, one or both of these guys would suddenly have way more fantasy value than anyone previously thought.
But which of these backs has more value right now, and which has more long-term upside?
It’s pretty simple. Anderson is the main backup to Ball at the moment due to Hillman’s issues with fundamentals, but Hillman is the more explosive talent with the better long-term potential.
If you’re taking a shot in the dark, Hillman has to be your guy. However, if you’re rolling with logic and how things actually stand right now, Anderson is the call.
Anderson has way less experience and is the inferior talent, but reports suggest he is indeed a “serious threat” to claim the number two running back spot ahead of Hillman. Denver’s coaching staff remains very high on Hillman’s versatility and play-making ability in space, though, so this could be a competition that goes down to the wire.
It’s early in the summer, though, so if you’re conducting an early fantasy draft, Hillman might be the way to go. He offers more talent and potential and could still beat out Anderson to snag backup duties behind Ball. In the event of a Ball injury, though, both backs would of course be worth drafting and rostering.