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2014 Draft Prep: Montee Ball ready for star status

Senior Fantasy Writer
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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
Report: Patriots more likely to tag Gostkowski than McCourty
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:19 am ET) If the Patriots are to use their franchise tag, the team is more likely to use the tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski than cornerback Devin McCourty, sources told ESPNBoston.com.

A franchise tag for a kicker would be an estimated $4.5 million, while tagging a cornerback would cost about $9.5 million. If no long-term deal can be reached and neither player is tagged, they'll become free agents March 10.


Report: Chiefs use franchise tag on Justin Houston
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) The Chiefs have decided to use their franchise tag on Justin Houston, a source told ESPN.

Houston, 26, has recorded 48 1/2 sacks over his first four seasons in the NFL and produced 22 sacks in 2014, which led the league. Signing the one-year deal would be worth about $13 million.


Lions will not use franchise tag on Ndamukong Suh
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:51 am ET) The Lions announced Monday they will not use the franchise tag on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

If the Lions cannot work out a deal with Suh, he'll become a free agent March 10. Using the franchise tag on Suh would've cost the Lions $26.9 million in 2015. Suh is considered one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.


Report: Packers' Jarrett Bush arrested for public intoxication
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:38 am ET) Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush was arrested for disorderly conduct while under the influence Sunday in California, reports KTVU in San Francisco and WBAY-TV in Green Bay.

Bush was placed in a detention hold and then released. Bush has played for the Packers since 2006 and serves as their special teams captain.


Report: Eagles working on new contract with Trent Cole
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:25 am ET) The Eagles have been working with linebacker Trent Cole on a new contract, a source told lehighvalleylive.com.

Cole is due to make $11.6 million next season and the team would save $8.4 million by cutting Cole.


Report: Eagles have not contacted McCoy about restructuring contract
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(9:20 am ET) Although the Eagles are looking to lower their cap number, the team has not approached LeSean McCoy about restructuring his contract, sources told The Inquirer.

McCoy is due to count $11.95 million against the cap in 2015, but previously said he'd be willing to restructure his contract if asked, but won't take a pay cut.


Ravens' Victor Hampton arrested for DWI
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Ravens defensive back Victor Hampton was arrested for DWI, in Charlotte, Saturday night, according to WSOC TV

Hampton was pulled over after going 100 mph in a 55-mph zone. He faces DWI, speeding, reckless driving and open container charges. Passengers in the car were arrested on marijuana and concealed weapons charges. 

Hampton was on the Bengals offseason roster and Giants practice squad last year. He signed with the Ravens in January. 


Report: Raiders to release LaMarr Woodley
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) The Raiders will release DE LaMarr Woodley this week, according to a report by CSN Bay Area's Fallon Smith, citing an NFL source.

Woodley is entering the second year of a two-year contract. He's scheduled to make $3.85 million with a salary cap hit of $5.1875 million.  


Chiefs' De'Anthony Thomas working on being a receiver this offseason
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) De'Anthony Thomas was drafted out of Oregon by the Chiefs as a running back. Though he worked in a hybrid role as a rookie, he was listed by Kansas City as a running back. 

That could change in 2015.

According to the Kansas City Star, Thomas said he's worked this offseason on becoming more of a complete receiver.

“Yes, I have the ability to run the whole [route] tree,” Thomas said. “That’s what I’ve been working on this offseason. I’m running all those routes in the sand [during beach workouts]. And once the time comes to come on the grass, I feel like it’s going to be a lot easier because I’ve prepared myself.”

Thomas ran for 113 yards and totaled 156 receiving yards in a reserve role. He made a big impact in the return game, combinging for 833 punt and kickoff return yards with a touchdown. 
With Thomas transitioning into being more of a receiver first, he's modeling him game after Steelers wideout Antonio Brown. Both are shorter targets, making the comparison fitting for Thomas. Thomas is listed at 5-feet-8, 176 pounds and Brown is 5-feet-10, 186 pounds. 
Brown had a career season in 2014, totaling 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

“I’m very impressed with Antonio Brown,” Thomas said. “He’s a great player, and I feel like I have the same ability to make the same plays like him and help the team and be that [kind of impact] player.”



 


Report: Dolphins eyeing CBs Brandon Flowers, Kareem Jackson
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Looking to upgrade at cornerback, the Dolphins are interested in bringing on Brandon Flowers or Kareem Jackson during free agency, according to a report from the Miami Herald

The Dolphins don't appear sold on cornerback Cortland Finnegan for future seasons with the organization discussing alternative options. 

In 2014, Flowers totaled 52 tackles and three interceptions after signing a one-year deal with the Chargers. Jackson recorded 57 tackles and three interceptions in his fifth season for the Texans. 


 
 
 
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