Rookie running backs have been popping in Denver for more than a decade. Now the team will likely hang its running game on former University of Georgia stud Knowshon Moreno, who may be the best pure running back of his draft class. Moreno is a complete player, and a good fit for Denver. Perhaps more than any rookie, fantasy owners are asking if he is a good fit for their team.
Dissecting the depth chart: First, let's remember that Denver went through all of its backs last season thanks to injuries and poor luck. By the end of the year the equipment manager was getting four or five touches a game. This year's cast of ball carriers includes Correll Buckhalter, LaMont Jordan, Peyton Hillis and Selvin Young. Denver is deep, to be sure, but none of the above mentioned players has the total package that Moreno brings to the table. Jordan and Buckhalter have a lot of tread on their tires, while neither Hillis nor Young showed last year that they could be a full-time feature back. Moreno will have an opportunity to compete, and fantasy owners should expect he'll exit camp with the starting job.
Just the stats: Moreno's two seasons with the Bulldogs were nearly identical: 248 carries for 1,336 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2007; 250 carries for 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2008. The game that made him a star was a 42-30 win over Florida in 2007 (33 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns). One game that fantasy owners should take a closer look at, though, was his final collegiate performance. Although he gained just 62 yards rushing in the Capitol One Bowl win over Michigan State, Moreno caught a career high six passes and did all of the little things a complete back needs to in order to lead his team to victory.
2008 rookie comparison: Detroit's Kevin Smith doesn't sound like a sexy comparison, but the numbers seem about right (Smith gained 976 yards, caught 39 passes and scored eight touchdowns for woeful Detroit last season). Like Smith, Moreno should be the go-to-guy in his backfield, but with company. And, like Smith, Moreno will not have a strong passing game to prevent defenses from loading the box.
Interesting fact that won't help you: His given name is a combination of the word 'knowledge' and his mother's name, Varashon.
What he's worth: Most peg Moreno as a fringe fantasy starter. His average RapidDraft position through the first week of June has been 24th at his position, and 42nd overall, suggesting Moreno is a borderline No. 2 running back prospect. As the month of August approaches, and fantasy owners become more aware of Moreno, those numbers will climb, as is usually the case with high-profile rookies.
In a year with so much uncertainty at the running back position, fantasy owners could do far worse than selecting the shifty back with the colorful name and the run-friendly system.