In this weekly column, I explore some young players who haven’t made much of a consistent impact to date. Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap/moderate trade. However, this week I’m going look at a fourth year running back who may be very much on the radar and a relative unknown tight end who deserves further evaluation. Acquiring any of these players could decide how well your dynasty/keeper team does for the next few years. I will focus on their most recent matchup to draw the majority of my insight.
Knowshon Moreno, RB DEN
“What a long strange trip it’s been”- Jerry Garcia
That quote sums up how I feel about this fourth year back. Yes, I know I’m cheating again as my article should be about second and third year players, but since Moreno tore up his knee last year and went on the injured reserve, I’m red-shirting his third year of eligibility.
Moreno was the perfect fit to replace Willis McGahee as he is the best pass blocking running back that the Broncos had on their roster. He did a good job of this against the Raiders on Thursday night; however, he was directed by Peyton Manning to move around as Oakland was attacking with some unusual blitzes. The spry back did a good job catching the ball out of the backfield. He had four receptions for 48 yards on five targets. The burst he demonstrated on a short pass in the flat was amazing. The youngish running back used his speed, wiggle, and vision to slice through the defense for a 27 yard gain on his first catch. He showed good field awareness when he cut a pass route short as he could sense the pressure Manning was feeling and made a short catch to keep a drive on track. Four of his five pass targets were in the flat. Moreno seemed to enjoy being in space where he could use his wiggle to get away from defenders instead of being all bunched together at the line of scrimmage.
Much like McGahee and unlike the rookie running back Ronnie Hillman, Moreno is a very deliberate runner who uses more power than pure speed. There were several times where he struggled to get past the line of scrimmage between the tackles. He excelled when he got the opportunity to run outside so he could use his vision to the Broncos advantage. Manning called a good offensive game plan that took advantage of some passing situations where the Broncos gave Moreno the ball on delays. This put the Oakland front seven on roller skates which let the running back set up blocks and take advantage of the Raiders over-pursuit.
As the game went on, Moreno showed more patience in the hole and got stronger with each carry. He took some hard shots and yet maintained control of the ball. For the most part he got bottled up near the end zone, but finally broke through for a short score after the Raiders fumbled inside their ten yard line. There was a good, effective jump cut that he used late in the fourth quarter that showed off his athleticism as he broke a long run outside.
Coach John Fox and the Broncos are growing to trust him as he carried the ball 32 times for 119 yards with the short touchdown run to seal the game. This puts his season numbers at 80 carries for 288 yards and two touchdowns with 13 receptions for 100 yards on 15 targets. McGahee isn’t getting any younger, so dynasty owners will want to keep a close eye on Moreno. Hillman has seen less carries with Moreno in the backfield than when McGahee was there, so be aware of that trend. I think Moreno is a good RB4 to hold onto for next season. He may soar to RB2 value or plummet to the RB6 range, but any trusted pass protector of Peyton Manning is on my speed dial!
Anthony McCoy, TE SEA
There is a lot to like about this third year, relatively unknown tight end. On Sunday against the Cardinals, McCoy did not have a catch for less than 15 yards. This included a15 yarder nullified by a penalty. He had the best game of his career with three receptions for 105 yards – this included a spectacular 67 yard pitch and catch where he was zigzagging down the entire field of play, but ran out of gas at the bitter end.
There is plenty to like about Seattle’s second tight end option. He has fantastic hands and is good at taking the right angle to make the first defender miss. McCoy uses his body as a shield to make the difficult catch and is good at using the sideline as another blocker while running pass patterns. His best attribute is his ability to contort his body to the ball in the air despite having a defender hanging all over him. The young tight end does a good job working back to his signal caller to help give his team an uncovered target. He has decent vision to find seams and shows adequate agility getting in and out of breaks.
There are a few good reasons why he is a number two tight end. McCoy is not blazing fast and he lacks the physical toughness to deal with in-line blocking or the constant pounding that a starting tight end takes. He does not run precise routes and can sometimes be caught drifting away from where the quarterback expects him to be. I like him as a TE3-4, because he offers upside in a deeper roster league. Zach Miller is not the healthiest of starters and is usually a very effective blocker, almost offensive tackle-like. Because of this, Miller tends to stay in and block while McCoy can slip out on delayed pass patterns without much concern from the defense. He has caught 66% of his targets (16) for 236 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games. If the Seahawks become more balanced using Russell Wilson’s arm more often, I expect a bit more production from McCoy.
He is a great “stash and hope” kind of guy to own.