Have a Ball in 2014

I have been working on a massive Post Free Agency Stock Watch, which is aimed at putting all the activity into perspective and conveying to readers how free agency has changed the fantasy landscape for 2014.

I use the word “massive” a lot because it describes most of the articles we do. I really want to continue to try to scale back our word counts because I know it’s usually too much. But on the other hand I insist on covering all the angles I think are important. So it’s a constant battle. For example, the writeup I did today on Montee ball, who is the top RB upgrade on my list.

I don’t think there’s any repetition in this entry, but it is very long, possibly “massive.”

I’m curious as to your thoughts on a writeup like this. Is it too long? I feel it has enough stats to back our endorsement of Ball, but are there too many? Or not enough? If you’re inclined, give me your thoughts below or on twitter (@Fantasy_Guru).


Note: This is actually not yet proofed or edited by anyone but me.

Montee Ball (Den) – The RB position is a young man’s game, yet when you play with a QB like Peyton Manning, a back needs to be savvy in terms of defensive recognition, adjusting to play changes at the line of scrimmage, and of course pass protection. It was foolish to think the rookie Ball could seriously challenge veteran Knowshon Moreno for the lead role last year, but he did dip into Moreno’s playing time in the second half of the season. After playing a decent percentage of their snaps the first month of the season, Ball’s snaps were in the single digits for several weeks. But in his last nine games, Ball played 32% of their snaps on average, and Denver was using him in critical times, including the playoffs. I saw John Fox comment on Ball at the Combine, and he said that the organization thinks very highly of him and that he “had tremendous growth as a rookie and got better with every week.” Denver will likely bring in another veteran back of note, and Fox has utilized a 2-man backfield at times, but with the bulk of free agency over and few solid options available, the lead role here is all Ball’s. He’s not a stud talent by any stretch, and he has average size (5’10”, 214 pounds), average speed, and to be kind only above-average power. So to produce big number for fantasy, he needs volume in terms of touches and it’s fair to say he needs a lot of support from the players around him. In Denver, he should get both. As we know, this is an excellent situation, one in which Ball should be afforded many carries against defenses lining up to defend the pass, and Manning will certainly check to a run play if defenses dare him to run it. And Ball performed well enough as a rookie to be encouraged by his great opportunity this year. If you take away a 3-carry -1-yard performance in Week Fifteen, Ball averaged 7.0 yards a carry the final month and a half of the season on 49 carries. In his final 8 games, Ball averaged a healthy 5.9 YPC on 65 carries (Moreno was at 4.4), and he actually had more GL carries inside the 5 than Moreno (5 vs. 3). In the passing game, while it’s a small sample with only 27 targets, Ball did double his catch rate percentage in the second half of the season (from 40% to 81.8), and he impressively caught 18 of his 22 targets from Week 11 through Week 17. Ball is considered a good pass protector, so it’s fair to expect him to keep up that 3.1 targets/game pace from those final seven weeks with Moreno gone, and if he can pick up even 20 more targets with Moreno out of the mix, Ball has a chance to hit 50 catches if he can maintain a solid 75% catch rate, which was his season average. Moreno and Ball totaled 361 carries in 2013, and I think Ball has an excellent chance to collect 75% of that rushing work. That’s 270 carries, and if he’s at only 4.0 yards a carry, that’s about 1100 yards rushing. If we conservatively give him 40 catches at 6.5 YPC (he was at 7.3 as a rookie), that’s 260 yards. A good goal line back with an eye for the endzone, Ball should get at least 10 TDs on a team that scored 71 times last year. Add it all up, and Ball in a PPR projects conservatively to 236 fantasy points, which would have been good for 12th at RB in 2013 in a PPR (10th in a non-PPR). He’s a durable back, so barring something unforeseen he has an excellent chance to exceed those numbers. I’m not yet sure he’s worth a #1 pick, but I doubt people who take him late in the first round will be disappointed.


Category: Fantasy Football


11 Responses

  1. Stretch says:

    I like the breakdown of your projected stats for M.Ball in 2014. But my primary rule for RBs in fantasy is their body of work. I feel M.Ball has not accomplished enough in fantasy football to warrant anything higher than a 3rd round pick.

    In my opinion, there is too much turnover at the RB position to go all in on M.Ball.

    Just my 2¢,


  2. Mike says:

    Yes, this is way “too much”. You may want to take a look at Shandler’s player bio’s at BaseballHQ. They’re easier to read, to the point, funny/witty, and share a clear backed-up opinion. Thanks for asking for feedback.

  3. Fred says:

    I’m a long time subscriber and a huge fan of the site. Your analysis is usually spot-on and the above article is why. You guys really do cover all the angles. However, it is too long to read. Especially if you consider that every relevant skill player will have a similar analysis. You’ve been the Guru for 20 years and you’re a HOFer so keep up the great work, but please parse down the reader version to something more manageable for us readers to get through. As they say in screen writing “cut to the chase”.

  4. Jimmerz says:

    Agree, it’s too long. The stats are nice but hard to read in paragraph form.

    Also, if you’re looking to cut down on your word count, why not eliminate the Game Center article? Seems like it’s just a redundant rehash of everything else. I never even look at it and I’ve been a subscriber for over 10 years.

  5. John Hansen says:

    Thanks for the feedback. At least for the Stock Watch, this example is more than twice as long as a typical one. Ball’s a guy who really needs to be placed under a microscope due to what Stretch outlined above, but I hear you all, it is too much.

    It’s not easy to be comprehensive and also short, but once our player profiles are done, it will be easier to continue to scale back, since we can refer people looking for more information to check out the player’s profile.

    But it sure beats an entry I recently found from one of my hard copy newsletters from ’97, this was his preview for a particular week of the season

    Jamal Anderson (RB, Atl) – He’ll be fine.

    Now that’s brevity! And he was “fine” that week!

  6. John Hansen says:

    We did scale Game Center back last week and will continue to do so. Again, it’s tough to do our jobs and cover things that should be covered and to also keep it short.

  7. Tom says:

    I drafted M.Ball 2nd overall in our PPR League keepers rookie draft last year, here’s how the draft went down.

    1. G.Bernard
    2. M.Ball ( Me )
    3. L.Bell
    4. T.Austin
    5. C.Patterson
    6. J.Hunter
    7. D.Hopkins
    8. C.Michael
    9. E.Lacey (Slipped due to injury concerns)

    So i want as much insight on M.Ball as possbile, i don’t mind reading a longer article, if it has the feedback and isnight that i need. By minimizing the article you might leave out insinght that others find valuable, i enjoy reading your lengthy articles. Keep up the great work!

  8. John Hansen says:

    Thanks, one thing we’re planning on in preseason is to keep most articles lighter with a note saying that those who want major detail can simply check out the player’s profile, which will be done in June. At least this way we’re appeasing a lot of people who want things shorter, and reminding those who want more that we have more in profiles.

  9. Toby says:

    John – thanks for asking for my feedback, has a subscriber for a decade now I appreciate it. For the last few years I’ve thought the ‘wordiness’ here has increased and I’m not sure I’ve gotten much value out of it. Like Jimmerz noted above it feels like you guys are duplicating some of the articles and news in season a bit.
    With that said I thought the above post on Ball was okay: you spoke to his role, averages for last season and comparisons with Moreno, catch rate percentage and more – quality data and analysis but perhaps you could cut it down some? I didn’t feel it was too long – I think if you could prevent duplicating much of the same information it would be beneficial to you and your staff in season. With that said I love the stats/data guys breaking down interesting takes on RB production after heavy workloads (maybe why I’m always ‘chasing’ top RBs?) and QB production after big years, etc. this is great stuff and I cant tell you how much I appreciate it. But, in season get to the point and don’t over complicate stuff with rankings with comments then game center stuff.
    ps – I think more than anything I love the Gut feeling type of comments you make, or the Mr. Relevant articles.
    Quick Story – sorry nothing about this take is quick: a few years back you noted a rookie WR in Denver was catching everyone’s eye – I saw that he was also a return guy – yes, E. Royal. Having $1 in my auction league PPR with return yds at the end of the draft I took him. That guy was so money that year! Not because of a lot of words, but because you brought it to my attention that I took him – thanks and keep up the good work John. And thanks for not forgetting about the IDP guys!

  10. MT Hammertime says:

    John; huge fan, long time subscriber! Over the years the “Guru” has demonstrated a level of insight, connections and expertise that have been invaluable in drafting and managing teams. Hit the expertise in drafting backed by stats, connections and knowledge. Take more risk for pre-draft and in season content! Have felt over the last few years, in season content has become somewhat what neutral and risk adverse around what got the the “Guru” to where he is today. Take the risk, simplify content, demonstrate why you guys are the “guru’s”! Insight, connections and real time information are awesome.

  11. John Hansen says:

    Toby, Thanks for the kind words. It’s tough to balance comprehensiveness and brevity, but believe me I’m cognizant that it’s something we have to try to do. It’s impossible to avoid duplication from article to article, though. People like specific articles, and most of them can’t be considered complete unless key info is in it, and the same can be said for another article about a specific player, so that really can’t be avoided.

    MT Hammer, Thanks as well. As I covered in lessons learned article, I did sense chaos last year, which prompted more of a long-term investing approach, but I’ll be more focused this year on a taking calculated play-to-win risks. I think you’ll be pleased with the content this year.

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