Fantasy Football Hail Mary: Vick Ballard can quietly carry you to a title

      December 14, 2012 @ 12:48:56 PDT


Isn't it funny how things end up playing out in fantasy football? Players that aren't even on the blip of your radar in the draft or who are left to rot away on the waiver wire for much of the season wind up playing key roles in the fantasy football playoff schedule.

It happens every year, which is why fantasy football is such a great game - or frustrating and unpredictable. Depends on how you choose to view itů

Indianapolis Colts RB Vick Ballard
Vick will do the trick

Knowshon Moreno comes to mind as a guy that had quickly fallen off the fantasy landscape before the season. Now, he's probably carrying some squads to their title, especially in point-per-reception affairs.

Vick Ballard is another one of those fellows that could really push you over the top this year. Unlike Moreno, Ballard has been a much bigger part of his team's offense over the course of the season, with Donald Brown (knee) injured. Now that Brown has landed on the Injured Reserve, there's no questioning Ballard's status as the No. 1 rusher.

Before the season, the rookie runner was buried on the depth chart behind the likes of Brown, Delone Carter and even Mewelde Moore. With Brown done, Carter ailing and Moore and Deji Karim recently re-added to the roster, Ballard will get plenty of opps to help your fantasy squad win a championship in these final three weeks.

Interestingly enough, the Colts play the Houston Texans this weekend and again to wrap things up in Week 17, with a road tilt against the Kansas City Chiefs sandwiched in between. Not a bad couple of games in which to utilize Ballard in extremely important matchups or a winner-take-all scenario.

The Texans made things very rough on enemy running backs earlier this year, but lately, they've become a welcome sight for tailbacks, allowing rushing scores in each of the past three weeks.

Both the Colts and Texans could easily be playing for something in Week 17, too - assuming Week 17 is relevant in your league. Regardless, Ballard's chances are inspiring with the team backing him.

As The Indy Star's Phil Richards points out, Ballard gives his team the best combination of runner, receiver and pass protector. That's something that goes an extremely long way in the NFL these days. In an offense that is performing above standards this year - in large part thanks to Andrew Luck - Ballard's potential for success rises.

Looking at his numbers this year, though, one wouldn't be inclined to place a ton of faith in Ballard. Ballard's 3.8 yards per carry clip this season speaks to that. He hasn't eclipsed the 100-yard mark in any of his nine starts, and he's found paydirt just twice (one rushing, one receiving).

However, his downhill running style and grinding mentality allow him to provide you with consistent and safe fantasy points. He isn't prone to breaking off huge runs, but he'll gain the necessary yards due to his penchant for hitting the holes hard when they open up. His 19-carry game against Tennessee last week led to a season-high 94 yards. The fact that Indianapolis doesn't have any other realistic options to split the workload evenly with Ballard and his favorable schedule in the remaining games makes him at least a very attractive flex option.

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About Keith Hernandez

Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.

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