The NFL lockout has created a situation we haven’t seen in a long time, if ever. With no free agent signings or trades allowed, the NFL Draft forced teams to change their strategies, knowing they weren’t guaranteed to land some of their desired free agents.
The result of all this chaos has had a direct effect on many current NFL players. In this series of articles, we take a look at some players who have had their value and fantasy situation directly affected either positively or negatively due to the lockout.
Today, we take a look at Denver running back Knowshon Moreno.
Moreno was one of the most coveted players in the 2009 NFL Draft and the Broncos shocked everyone when they took him twelfth overall. While the draft position itself wasn’t surprising, not many people expected Denver to be in the market for a new running back.
Based on Moreno’s collegiate stats, could you really blame them?
Moreno proved to be a creative and explosive runner for the Georgia Bulldogs from 2007-2008. For his career, he compiled 2,736 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns on a yards per carry average of 5.5. When you threw in 53 catches for another 655 yards and two touchdowns, it looked as if you found yourself the next dynamic weapon in the NFL.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked out.
Moreno’s Mile High career can only be described as average thus far. His rookie year produced 947 rushing yards, 213 receiving yards and nine total touchdowns. Now that certainly wasn’t horrible, but his 3.8 yards per carry average was concerning. He fared a little better last year, putting up 779 rushing yards, 372 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in just 13 games, while raising his yards per carry average to a more acceptable 4.3.
So, what does the lockout mean to Moreno?
With new Head Coach John Fox in town, there will be a greater emphasis on the running game and Moreno is by far the most talented back on the Denver roster. I’d go into great detail about the trends we’ve seen with Coach Fox, but don’t need to since Allen Matson, a guest writer of ours broke it down here.
Since the Broncos failed the address the running back position in the draft, they currently have Moreno, Lance Ball, an aging Correll Buckhalter, Jeremiah Johnson and LenDale White at running back – not exactly a group to threaten Moreno for a lot of touches.
With Coach Fox in town, there has been a lot of speculation that his former bellcow, DeAngelo Williams, may end up in Denver, thus zapping the fantasy potential of both running backs. With the lockout continuing into the Summer and possibly into the Fall, that scenario is seeming more and more unlikely, especially with the realistic chance that new rules in place will make Williams a restricted free agent, not an unrestricted free agent. If that happens, the Panthers have expressed a desire to keep him in Carolina to platoon with Jonathan Stewart.
If Moreno can somehow find himself without any true competition in the backfield at the onset of the season, he could be primed for a huge breakout. In fact, most Denver media outlets are reporting the Broncos are in the market simply for a decent backup to Moreno at this point, not a back who would challenge for significant carries. With Moreno’s health issues and inconsistencies over the past two seasons, that would be a huge and unforeseen break for him.
If he takes advantage, he could be an absolute steal in the second round of startup drafts as a back who has just now started to show us some of his dynamic ability and big-time fantasy potential.
He should be a target of dynasty owners this offseason if you believe in both his ability and the Broncos inability to add another serious competitor to spilt carries with him.
Moreno is a high risk acquisition, but you could be rewarded greatly if you can get him below market value this offseason.
Ken is on Twitter at DLF_KenK