This Monday is Memorial Day, and as we spend the extra day off with family and friends I want to take a moment to thank all the men and women who have served and given their lives to protect my freedom. They provided an ultimate sacrifice so that I can sit here on a Friday night and listen to my little cousins laugh and giggle at Finding Nemo. Their courage enables me to write fantasy articles, to live my life in the manner I do, to have a few beers with friends, and to play nine holes on Sunday mornings, and for this I have no words. I cannot express how grateful I am for this protection. I can simply say… Thank you!
Wow… Did I leave a tough transition into fantasy football or what? In appreciation of our armed services I want to discuss a player who while not flashy or a topic of daily discussion will play a vital role in the success of your 2013 fantasy campaign. Without further adieu I give you my swan song for none other than… Vick Ballard, starting RB for the Indianapolis Colts. Now before you click to another site just to get rid of that disgusted / disappointed feeling from hearing that anyone could be excited about Vick Ballard I implore you to read on… finish the article. If you totally disagree at the end, I will have only wasted maybe six or seven minutes of your life… and please feel free to share your contrasting thoughts below or tweet me @realABC.
What you know:
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On the surface, Ballard does not leave much to be enthralled with. In his first NFL season he rushed for 814 yds on 211 carries, a paltry 3.9 YPC average according to rotoworld.com. When you look at PPR, the picture becomes even more bleak, as he grabbed only 17 receptions for 152 yds, albeit at a surprising 9.5 YPR clip. His 2012 combine statistics here show a average talent at best, lacking elite speed and elusiveness. His fifth round draft status by the Colts confirms these fears.
What you may not know:
While Ballard was a middle of the pack RB in 2012 ( in my main league he finished 29th at RB and 80th overall), he did so behind an unbelievably atrocious offensive line. PFF actually has them ranked 30th in run blocking. That’s merely two spots away from Arizona… and we all know how little value AZ’s running game had last year. While they were efficient enough at pass blocking that o-line did Ballard absolutely no favors, and significantly, if not solely contributed to his abysmal ypc.
Ballard ran behind a much better group of offensive linemen in the SEC during his two years as a starter at Mississippi State. How much better you ask? The Bull Dogs line allowed Ballard to average a gaudy YPC of 5.7 and a 9.8 YPR during his two seasons as their workhorse back. I know… eye popping right? If you can’t believe me, check the data at nbcsports.
The Colts realized that their run game was a huge problem, and addressed it this off season in free agency by adding G Donald Thomas, RT Gosder Cherilus, and FB Stanley Havili.
In the 2013 draft the Colts spent two picks on o-line, taking G Hugh Thornton, and G/C Khaled Holmes.
While these are not all-stars, they should immensely strengthen an incredibly weak offensive line, and open up holes for Ballard to rumble through.
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Regarding ppr, the departure of Bruce Arians to AZ, and the arrival of Pep Hamilton and his theorized implementation of a West Coast offensive scheme should increase the opportunity for Ballard to grab dump offs / short passes and ideally leading to more receptions like this one.
The Colts also have minimal to no competition for Ballard. They drafted Kerwynn Williams in the seventh round of this years draft, and have so far retained perennial injury risk / disappointment Donald Brown as a “change of pace back”. Williams is a diminutive back who will most likely be relegated to special teams, and let’s be honest… is anyone expecting big things from Brown? He hasn’t produced since his days at UCONN. I know I’m not holding my breath on that.
What we’ve learned:
I feel that Vick Ballard presents substantial value as a RB2/3 for your team. His current ADP is 62. In a twelve owner league that has him going off the board at 5.1. I think at this point that is fair for what you are getting. He will never rush for 200 yards in a game, but he is locked in (barring injury) as the starter and could very well play all three downs, as well as handle goal line work. He is a tough runner with more than decent hands in an evolving offense, and with what should be a much improved o-line. This plodder has proven his salt in both college and the NFL. I would be elated to have him on any one of my teams this year. What say you now fantasy naysayers?