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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
Titans waive TE Brett Brackett
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) The Titans waived tight end Brett Brackett, who played in two games this season without making a catch.

Saints put DE Glenn Foster on IR
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) The Saints placed defensive end Glenn Foster on injured reserve after he hurt his knee in Sunday's loss to the Lions. Foster, 24, appeared in five games this season.

Report: Raiders safety Usama Young suffers torn ACL, MCL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Raiders safety Usama Young is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL and MCL Sunday against the Cardinals, a source told ESPN. Young has totaled 23 tackles (21 solo), two pass defenses and one sack through six games.

Jaguars promote DE Chris Smith
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) The Jaguars promoted rookie defensive end Chris Smith to the active roster. He was a fifth-round pick out of Arkansas.

Report: Rams waive wideout Austin Pettis
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:41 pm ET) The Rams waived receiver Austin Pettis, reports ESPN's Adam Caplan. Pettis was a healthy scratch Week 7 against the Seahawks.

He spent his entire four-year career with St. Louis, catching four touchdown passes each of the previous two seasons.


Saints re-sign TE Tom Crabtree, waive LB Todd Davis
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:39 pm ET) The Saints re-signed tight end Tom Crabtree, according to The Times-Picayune. To clear a roster spot, linebacker Todd Davis was waived.

Lions TE Joseph Fauria runs on injured ankle for first time
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:37 pm ET) Lions tight end Joseph Fauria, who's missed four straight games, ran Monday on his injured ankle for the first time and said he felt fine, reports the Detroit News.

Tony Romo re-entering must-start territory
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:30 pm ET) Early in the season, Tony Romo looked like he might be destined for a game manager role with the Cowboys' rededication to the running game, but he and running back DeMarco Murray have managed to share the spotlight in recent weeks.

Romo's three-touchdown effort Week 7 against the Giants gave him five straight games with multiple touchdown passes. Murray's production, as you probably know, hasn't let up during that stretch. He became the first running back in NFL history to begin a season with seven straight 100-yard games.

Romo's resurgence may have been inevitable considering the weapons he has on offense. Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten you already know about, but he may have added another in rookie tight end Gavin Escobar, who caught two touchdown passes in Week 7.

Though the 300-yard games may not be as regular for Romo this season, the touchdowns are reason enough to stick with him in Fantasy. You have to like his chances of delivering another strong performance Week 8 against Washington.


Report: Martavis Bryant to debut on MNF
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(5:26 pm ET) Steelers rookie wideout Martavis Bryant will make his NFL debut on Monday Night Football against the Texans, reports ESPN. The fourth-round pick has been slow to develop and thus hasn't seen the field yet. But at 6-foot-4, he could prove useful in the red zone.

Owen Daniels' targets on the rise
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(5:16 pm ET) Owen Daniels' touchdown Week 7 against Atlanta was his first since his two-touchdown performance against Pittsburgh in Week 2. Of course, back then, he was still playing second fiddle to Dennis Pitta. Now, he's the Ravens' top option at tight end.

So where have the touchdowns been? Well, quarterback Joe Flacco hasn't been especially consistent about getting Daniels the ball, but hopefully that's beginning to change. In addition to the touchdown in Week 7, Daniels also led the Ravens in targets with nine only two weeks after having seven at Indianapolis. He went for a season-high 70 yards in that game.

With what Pitta has done over the last few years, the Ravens clearly know how to make use of a tight end, and Daniels showed he could make an impact in the passing game during his time with Houston. If you find yourself lacking at tight end, a position that can thin out quickly in leagues of 12 teams or more, Daniels might be an undervalued option.


 
 
 
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