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2014 Draft Prep: Montee Ball ready for star status

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Editor's note: FanDuel.com is hosting a one-week long $100,000 Fantasy Football contest for just Week 1. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts Sunday, September 7 at 1 p.m. ET. Enter now

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Broncos second-year running back Montee Ball is a somewhat-polarizing player in Fantasy this draft season. If you love him, he's a first-round pick. Otherwise you'll let someone else deal with his perceived flaws.

I'm a believer in Ball, so I would draft him in Round 1. I'm banking on a breakout campaign.

Last year, Ball couldn't hold onto the starting job in the preseason and he was replaced by Knowshon Moreno. Anti-Ball Fantasy owners use that as an argument against him -- that he was beat out by an inferior talent, which is true. He had fumble issues and struggled in pass protection and he clearly wasn't ready for the job.

But he excelled during the season in a reserve role behind Moreno with 120 carries for 559 yards and four touchdowns and 20 catches for 145 yards. Ball played well when he had touches with at least nine Fantasy points in four of the six games he had double digits in carries.

Moreno, however, was dominant in 2013 with 241 carries for 1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns and 60 catches for 548 yards and three touchdowns. He had 11 games with double digits in Fantasy points and was the No. 5 Fantasy running back in standard leagues.

That's the hope for Ball this year. In fact, he could have even better stats based on his ability. He also gets an improved offensive line. Ryan Clady is back and Orlando Franklin will move to guard. That should make the Broncos more physical. And if their defense improves as expected with the additions of DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward, we could see them sitting on leads late in games, with Ball earning additional work.

His biggest benefit is playing next to Peyton Manning. In 32 games as the starter for the Broncos in the regular season, Manning has helped Denver's running backs reach double digits in Fantasy points 23 times. Moreno never had extra defenders at the line of scrimmage because of the passing game, and that allows for plenty of open lanes for Ball to exploit.

He's also over his appendectomy in training camp since he played in the third preseason game against Houston.

"I wanted to get hit again and get that tempo back," Ball said in the Denver Post. "It's funny. After my plays, I was talking on the sideline, telling them that the speed of the game is fast right now. I have to get that back. I will be ready to go."

We're not worried about Ball, and neither should you. He's set up for a tremendous year and we're counting on him finishing as one of the elite running backs. Ball is someone to target on Draft Day since he could become a star.

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Player News
Jets waive fullback J.C. Copeland
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:59 pm ET) The Jets waived fullback J.C. Copeland after Saturday's training camp practice, per NJ.com. Copeland was one of two fullbacks in camp.

Copeland was cut after struggling in Saturday's workout. He was beaten badly trying to block a lineman and dropped a pass.  


Vikings sign WR Ryan Whalen
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:43 pm ET) The Vikings signed wide receiver Ryan Whalen , per ESPN Radio

Whalen was drafted by Cincinnati in 2011 and released during the 2014 preseason. He was out of football throughout last season. He has 11 catches for 80 yards in his career. 


Eagles trade Brandon Boykin to Steelers
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(8:21 pm ET) The Eagles traded cornerback Brandon Boykin to the Steelers for a conditional fifth-round draft pick in the 2016 draft, the team announced on Sunday.

Boykin was a fourth-round pick in 2012 and has seven interceptions in his Eagles career. 


Dolphins awarded Cobi Hamilton, cut Kai De La Cruz
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(7:24 pm ET) The Dolphins were awarded wide receiver Cobi Hamilton on waivers, the team announced on Saturday. Hamilton was waived by Cincinnati earlier in the week. 

To make room for him on the roster, the Dolphins released rookie receiver Kai De La Cruz


Report: Steelers' Martavis Bryant to undergo elbow procedure
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(7:11 pm ET) Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant is expected to undergo a procedure for an infection on his elbow.

Bryant is expected to miss about 10 days, and will not be available for the upcoming Hall-of-Fame game, according to FoxSports.com. 


Jets' Devin Smith remains hospitalized with punctured lung
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(6:48 pm ET) Jets wide receiver Devin Smith spent Friday night in the hospital after suffering broken ribs in practice. 

Smith will also spend Saturday night in the hospital, as doctors have determined he suffered a punctured lung. Smith will be out for the rest of the preseason. 


Dolphins claim wide receiver Cobi Hamilton; waive Kai De La Cruz
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) The Dolphins claimed wide receiver Cobi Hamilton off waivers Saturday, the team announced. Hamilton was recently released by the Bengals. He has never appeared in an NFL game.

To make room for Hamilton, the team waived wide receiver Kai De La Cruz.


Panthers DT Kawann Short dealing with back issue
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:34 pm ET) Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short missed Saturday's practice with a back injury, reports The Charlotte Observer. The severity of the injury is not known.

In 2014, Short produced 3 1/2 sacks and 40 tackles in 16 games.


Redskins CB DeAngelo Hall takes day off Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:10 pm ET) After participating in the first two days of training camp, the Redskins held cornerback DeAngelo Hall out of Saturday's full-pad practice as a precaution, reports the New York Times.

Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and the plan is for him to practice for two days then take a day off.

"Not being in football in 10 months, I'm going to need some monitoring, as far as reps and things like that, just to make sure I don't kill myself in the first two weeks," Hall said. "You've got a little bit of anxiety — kind of anxiousness, nervousness, excitement — so it felt a little different. But once you get on the field, it's still football. My leg still worked. Still not quite as explosive as I want to be, and they say that's going to take some time, but I feel good."


Report: Chargers DL Tenny Palepoi fractures foot Saturday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(4:59 pm ET) Chargers defensive lineman Tenny Palepoi suffered a fracture to his foot during Saturday's practice, sources told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Palepoi had to be carted off the field after sustaining the injury. He is expected to need two months to recover from the injury. Palepoi produced 16 tackles in 16 games last season.


 
 
 
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