I own Montee Ball in both dynasty and redraft, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time this week considering if it’s time to sell or if I should be looking to add more shares at a discount.1 On the one hand, Ball plays in a fantastic offense and sees the bulk of his team’s running back touches and snaps. On the other, he’s been an inefficient rusher this season and hasn’t exactly jumped off the screen. Fantasy Douche made the case on Monday that fellow Bronco Demaryius Thomas is a buy low,2 but the question is—is now the time to buy low on Ball?
In case you’re in a hurry, the short answer is no, this is not the time to buy. While it might normally make some sense to try and pry Ball away from a desperate owner who needs RB help this week, take a look at Ball’s schedule when the Broncos return from bye, courtesy of the Buy Low Machine.
Ball faces the Cardinals, Jets, and 49ers in Weeks 5-7, all of which have been tough matchups for RBs this year. They’ve also been susceptible to the pass, which Manning is likely exploit with a pass heavy attack.
There’s also the issue of Ball’s efficiency level. Using the Fantasy Efficiency App we can see that Ball is slightly above expectations as a receiver but is below expectations as a rusher on the season. Digging a little deeper reveals that Ball was slightly above rushing expectations in Weeks 1 and 2 and then turned in a pretty bad performance in Week 3—which can at least partially be chalked up to going against Seattle at home. Still it’s a concerning start, and compounded by the fact that according to the Buy Low Machine his schedule is about to get even tougher, going from a YTD SOS of 70 to 33.67 from Weeks 5-7.3
If Ball continues to struggle in the upcoming weeks, it’s possible that Denver starts working in Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson more, and that Ball begins to lose his grip on the role that makes him so valuable in the first place. I believe in Ball as a player, and expect that he’ll be able to avoid a committee situation, but it’s always nice when someone else can take that risk for you.
Maybe the best reason not to buy Ball now is that he looks like a fantastic buy low a few weeks down the road. By mid-season, if Ball doesn’t have any big games on his resume, many owners will be angrily labeling him a bust and selling him ultra-cheap. It’s possible they’ll be right, but don’t be too quick to write off Ball by mid-season. Here’s why:
Denver’s slate of games from Weeks 8-13 is currently ranked as the easiest for RBs. Those rankings are going to shift as more games are played, but it’s not like Oakland and Miami will turn into powerhouse run defenses anytime soon. If you’re thinking about acquiring Ball the best bet is to wait till after Week 6 or 7 when his cost should be at its very lowest.
If you’re in the somewhat unfortunate position of already owning Ball, I think your team situation will probably be a big factor in how to play it. If you can’t afford to hold out for a mid-season breakout from Ball, this week or next is the time to make a move. But if you’re especially deep at RB or off to a fast start, Ball may be worth hanging onto as a high end stash for the second half of the season.
Personally I’m looking to package Ball with a wide receiver for another under-performing preseason RB1. Matt Forte’s upcoming schedule is excellent, so he’s a premium target. Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy should also make good targets. If I can’t find any takers I’ll look to survive the next four weeks with Ball on my bench or as an RB2 and hope he can take full advantage of good mid-season matchups to fuel a playoff surge.