An undervalued RB in 2010

Last year, we ranked Bronco RB Knowshon Moreno #20 at RB. And in terms of total fantasy points (which is how we rank players) in 2009, he finished 16th in our default scoring system. But we didn’t underestimate him; we really overestimated him. Moreno was definitely solid down the stretch, but I was still disappointed in him.

From when the season ended until now, I’ve said the same thing about Moreno: he needs to improve and he needs to show a measured improvement on the field.

Apparently, he has.

One thing that helps is that he’s healthy and that knee injury last summer definitely slowed him down, so that’s a good thing to know with Moreno in 2010. The biggest issue I had with Moreno was his lack of action in the passing game, since he was considered a very good blocker and a productive receiver out of the backfield. We’ve speculated all offseason that Moreno probably wasn’t ready to handle the challenging protection duties in Josh McDaniels’ offense, and McDaniels recently said as much. But the good news is McDaniels also said Moreno’s improved dramatically this offseason, so his effective blocking and receiving skills could come to the forefront this year, which would be huge for his fantasy value.

If Ray Rice can dramatically improve in his second season, why can't Knowshon Moreno?

In addition, Moreno’s added a few pounds, which is probably a good idea because he takes on a lot of contact. He also seems noticeably more comfortable, which in turn has made him look quicker in practice. He’s making people miss this year that he didn’t in 2009. The OL has some issues this year, but they have gotten bigger up front, which should help Moreno.

Now, for the record I’m not high at all on the Broncos this year. I think McDaniels made bad draft picks with Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas (over Dez Bryant), and their QB and WR situation doesn’t look very promising. But in some ways that can work in Moreno’s favor, since Denver should once again look to run the ball a ton, and make the duo of Moreno and Correll Buckhalter a major part of their offensive attack. Buckhalter was fantastic last year, but late in the season we saw a serious commitment to Moreno, especially in the red zone, which made sense because he was the 12th pick in the draft with a lot to offer.

When I consider all the factors listed above – and Denver’s very easy schedule against the run this year – I come to the conclusion that Moreno’s jumping off the page a little bit as a nice #2 fantasy RB this year. I think it’s possible he falls to the 5th round in most drafts due to his underwhelming rookie season. Yet this is a guy who could get 20 touches per game, and if he does improve, that could translate into a very productive and surprising season.

Yes, he’s never going to be a true stud, but generally speaking, if you draft RBs who were selected high in the NFL draft, you’re doing a wise thing. When I’m looking for a breakout back, I first look at the guys who were high draft picks but haven’t exactly lit it up yet, so Beanie Wells and Knowshon Moreno are guys to target in 2010. Wells’ draft status has soared this offseason (2nd round pick sometimes), so Moreno is the value between the two.

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10 Responses

  1. Jimmerz says:

    I’m pretty high on Knowshon for this year, so I’m actually a little disappointed you let the cat out of the bag, John. ;) We always talk about the “second year WR”, but it seems the “second year RB” holds some water as well of late. Maybe Mike could do an analysis?

  2. Simon says:

    Your rankings have Moreno below McCoy and the difference is even more pronounced in PPR. Are you saying we should be taking Moreno above McCoy now, given a straight choice?

  3. Austin says:

    I think in ppr formats Moreno will finish the year as a top 10 rb. Am I crazy for thinking so? I pick at #1 in a 12 team league and am considering him at the 2/3 turn as my #2 depending of course on how the draft plays out. I agree though I think he will be a low end #1 or a very high end #2 by years end, especially in ppr formats. Great stuff John!

  4. Baller says:

    This is a great blog post. I love when you highlight one or two specific players that are values or to target or during the season to grab off the wire.

  5. Stewart says:

    Thanks. I am looking for Tebow to vulture rushing TDs (not that the Broncos are going to be a TD machine) so I prefer Moreno in non-TD-heavy formats.

  6. Rudy says:

    I’m in a keeper league and I’m trying to decide whether i keep Addai or Moreno. What do you all think?

  7. Austin says:

    Moreno and its not even close. Addai never even hit 80 yards in a game last year and Brown looked like the more talented runner when healthy. I think you see a more even split in Indy while Moreno will distance himself from Buckhalter. When in doubt talent usuall prevails and Moreno is a former first round pick who has a brighter future ahead of him. Good luck!

  8. John Hansen says:

    I concur with Austin.

  9. TitanicTitans says:

    Rudy, I would also keep Moreno because of the unsure future of Addai. I do however think Addai is going to have a good season.(Contract Year). I also feel Addai has the advantage of a better offense. After all, much a fantasy players value is putting the rock in the end zone. Indy gives him alot of chances to do just that. Thats my take ……out.

  10. James says:

    I think that Moreno will only have success in PPR systems. There is no Brandon Marshall to keep the safeties out of the box. This means that Moreno will be facing 8 man fronts to stuff the run and dare Orton to beat them with the pass. The Broncos have no receiving threat worth double teaming.

    Moreno will have success catching the ball because he will be shut down in the run.

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