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  All Spotlights • Mewelde Moore Player Page • MIN Projections • RB Projections • RB Rankings • MIN Team Report  
Spotlight - RB Mewelde Moore, Minnesota Vikings

Jason Wood's mug

Jason Wood's Thoughts

How often does your season-ending roster look exactly like your draft day roster? I'm betting NEVER (unless it's a Survivor League). In other words, no matter how well you think you've drafted, how much you mastered "The Perfect Draft" and how much you chewed up the guppies in your league, there are going to be surprise performers, injuries and disappointments that warrant trading for and/or picking up players from the waiver wire.

With that in mind, I've long held the philosophy that you should shoot for the moon with your late round, backup selections. It's a philosophical decision: Do you draft the guy you KNOW is going to get a few points per week or do you draft a guy who may not see the field much at all but COULD end up the starter for a variety of reasons and be a breakout star?

For me, it's "roll the dice." Because honestly, chances are the guys you pick in the last few rounds are going to find their ways off your roster anyway.

With that in mind, let me turn your attention to two young running backs name Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason. For much of the offseason, they have been considered 3rd and 4th stringers respectively (and that's only because Onterrio "Steal of the Draft" Smith got caught Whizzinating.)

Moore is a 5'11", 210 lbs. back entering his second season out of Tulane (he played in the same backfield as Bills QB J.P. Losman). Entering the league, Moore was considered quick to the hole but not particularly fast. He had better-than-average receiving skills and was a solid inside/outside runner but some questioned his level of competition. As a rookie, he started Weeks 5-7 and acquitted himself well. 55 carries for 339 yards (6.2 YPC), 24 receptions for 198 yards (8.3 YPC), but he failed to find the end zone. The "glass is half full" crowd would point to the fact Moore was "on pace" for over 2,800 yards from scrimmage (yes, that would be by far a new NFL record). The "glass is half empty" crowd would point out that he failed to score AND was a non factor the rest of the way. As is often the case, I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Ciatrick Fason, a 6'0", 212 lbs. rookie from the University of Florida, was a 4th round draft pick and considered low man on the totem pole entering camp. That said, Fason was regarded by at least one well regarded draft publication as the 4th best RB in this class (NFL Draft Scout). Fason led the SEC in rushing yards per game last year, and was 2nd in yards from scrimmage (i.e., he can catch the ball too). A slower-than-expected 40-time during workouts and some bobbled pass catching drills dropped his stock, but he's certainly talented enough to project as an NFL starter under the right circumstances.

Why are we focusing on these two runners versus projected starter Michael Bennett and long-time backup Moe Williams? Because you can grab either of these backs relatively late in a backup capacity, but they may very well end up with a lion's share of the workload.

Bennett is a former collegiate sprinter who just can't stay healthy. Even though HC Mike Tice has maintained that Bennett would be the Vikings starter, he's now sidelined with a neck injury and is "Doubtful" for Week 1. Considering the guy has missed 16 games in four years (including 5 last year), another injury isn't something you should shrug off, there appears to be an undeniable trend.

With my penchant for rolling the dice with my last picks, I can't think of another pair of runners (Moore and Fason) that offer more compelling upside. Sure, IF Bennett shakes off the stinger and IF Moe Williams (31 years old) has some carries left in him, Moore and Fason could be afterthoughts. BUT, they could very well be inserted into a potent offensive lineup with a coaching staff that has vehemently insisted they would run A LOT this year.

Positives

  • Bennett, if healthy, appears to be the team's starter and has the only 1,000 yard rushing season to his credit (1,296 in 2002) among the Vikings RB Corps
  • Moore was a yardage and receiving machine in limited work last year, and seemingly gets a shot at the job again with Bennett's injury status for the opener in question
  • Fason played well at a top tier program against in one of the nation's premier conferences. He has solid inside/outside vision, is patient at the point of attack and can catch the ball (though not as well as Mewelde)

Negatives

  • Bennett + Williams + Fason + Moore could equal RBBC
  • Bennett is always hurt, yet he's still being drafted in the first five rounds according to Antsports
  • The Vikings offensive line, considered a strength, has some issues with the injury to C Matt Birk and the retirement of Dave Dixon

Final Thoughts

ROLL THE DICE. That means, take a flier on Mewelde Moore in the last third of your draft or Ciatrick Fason in the very last rounds of 12-team leagues because, you never know. I think both are talented enough to produce if they get the requisite touches. And Minnesota's new OC S. Loney has promised more offensive balance, meaning more running attempts. With a passing attack among the league's best, and a mammoth O-Line, the MINNY RBs will have running room. I don't necessarily dislike Michael Bennett, but I just don't think his history warrants paying the current price. Moe Williams could end up in the mix, particularly as a 3rd down receiver and goal line back, but you get the sense from listening to the coaches that they would rather have a tailback in there who can play in any down and distance.


Colin Dowling's mug

Colin Dowling's Thoughts

Iíve come to the startling conclusion that if we all have a little patience, the Vikings running back situation will sort itself out in a ďprocess of eliminationĒ kind of way. First, Onterrio Smith decides heíd like to take a vacation for a drug violation. Then, after looking particularly sleek in preseason action, Ciatrick Fason comes up lame with a hurt ankle. Soon after Ė and right on schedule Ė Michael Bennett experienced the next in a seemingly endless string of injuries that leave the Vikings with 2nd year man Mewelde Moore and veteran keystone Moe Williams as the only real rushing options on the team. Iím sort of joking about things actually becoming clear, but I think you see my point.

While Bennett and Fason are expected back this year, Iíd venture to say that if there is a ďsafeĒ Vikings running back worth owning, its either Moore or Williams. Both can be had late in drafts, and both have shown they can be reliable fantasy options at one time or another Ė Moe in 2003 and Mewelde in the middle of the season last year. However, there is little guarantee in either, which is a theme that canít be stated enough.

Various reports quote coaches saying Moore is the best of the group but he canít block. Other reports sing how Tice feels Bennett is the guy if he is healthy. Saying how things will play out with any certainty at this point is foolish as we simply can not know. What we CAN do, however, is try to find which Vikings running back offers great value compared to their ADP, or Average Draft Position.

Michael Bennett Ė (ADP:43 RB25) Bennett is being drafted fairly high precisely on the expectation that at some point heíll stay healthy and get the bulk of the work in Minnesota. The problem with that thinking is that in the last two seasons, there have been times when Bennett was healthy and DIDNíT receive the bulk of touches, losing them to more then one other runner at one time or another. He may have all the speed in the world, but it may be time for the fantasy community to realize that Michael Bennett simply is not that special of a football player and does not Ė can not Ė warrant a selection in the first four rounds. Pass.

Onterrio Smith Ė Uh, pass.

Ciatrick Fason Ė (ADP:186 RB58) This is an interesting spot. With his recent injury, Fason is likely to slide down a little further. Considering some of the backs being drafted near Fason, itís reasonable to assume he has as good or better a chance to take over as a Fantasy contributor as the people around him. Fason is big and has lots of skill Ė many compare him to another Florida back, Fred Taylor. He reminds me more of Chris Brown, both in size and style but also in how he has some surprising lateral shiftiness. As a 5th or 6th running back, Fason could be a real home run offering great value.

Moe Williams Ė (ADP: 194 RB59) For the more conservative player, Williams is certainly tempting. For some reason, his ADP stays low as people wait for a younger, more talented Viking to take over. Problem is, it hasnít happened yet. If Williams repeats his 2004 performance of 400 total yards, 4 touchdowns, 21 receptions, then heíll perform to this low draft spot but likely wonít ever see your teamís starting lineup. However, if he performs as he did in 2002 and particularly 2003, then he could be a real bargain this late in your draft.

Mewelde Moore Ė (ADP:111 RB41) In my opinion, Moore is the most tempting of the group. For starters, unlike Fason and Bennett, heís healthy. Heís also shown in limited duty that he can gain yardage in chunks, averaging roughly 170 combined yards in 3 games as a starter. Problem is, he still hasnít scored a touchdown and he appears to have trouble blocking. However, itís clear that he can handle the rushing and receiving, which is a great place to start.

The Vikings line and offense provide plenty of opportunity for a skilled runner and itís not a stretch to think that someone in the Vikings backfield will have a few great games this year. My recommendation, if you want to gamble on the Vikings backfield, is to snag Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason.and pay attention in earnest to how things develop from week to week. There is considerable risk involved seeing as how itís not far-fetched to think that this could be the year Bennett stays healthy or that Moe Williams could be called on again for extended duty. However, in my opinion, you could do much worse then selecting two runners after round 9 that have a significant chance to be uber-productive this season.

Positives

  • Moore averaged 170 combined yards in 3 starts last year
  • It's Bennett's job to lose and he's downplayed his neck injury
  • Fason can be had off waivers or very late; he's all upside

Negatives

  • Moore has to improve his blocking considerably to play every down
  • Bennett is three seasons removed from his 1,200 yard effort, how many times are people going to drink the Kool-Aid?
  • It's unclear how Fason vaults over three other runners this year

Final Thoughts

The Vikings line and offense provide plenty of opportunity for a skilled runner and itís not a stretch to think that someone in the Vikings backfield will have a few great games this year. My recommendation, if you want to gamble on the Vikings backfield, is to snag Mewelde Moore and Ciatrick Fason.and pay attention in earnest to how things develop from week to week. There is considerable risk involved seeing as how itís not far-fetched to think that this could be the year Bennett stays healthy or that Moe Williams could be called on again for extended duty. However, in my opinion, you could do much worse then selecting two runners after round 9 that have a significant chance to be uber-productive this season.


Quotations from the Message Board Thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Macdaddy 2004:
What a mess to sort out:

First of all you have the often injured and uninspiring Mike Bennett - a player that reminds me an awful lot of one [Chris] Brown. 2nd you have the incumbent Moe Williams who (should be) slowly phased out, we have one rook and one sophomore (who put up decent numbers in spot duty). My guess is that at some point this year Mewelde Moore is gonna have extreme value (especially in ppr leagues)

Zilly QB:
M.B. has a highly touted front line and is in a situation that needs to fill a huge offensive void. I give him a 75% chance of playing 13 games. For Michael, it's opportunity, talent and Health that are they keys to fantasy success.

Tick:
I know I'm higher than just about everyone with [my] projections, but I'm saying Bennett stays healthy, MMoore gets third down duties, and Moe gets goal line. I don't see Fason getting much of a shot this season, though he could step into Bennett's job soon.


Mewelde Moore Projections

SOURCERSHRSHYDRSHTDRECRECYDRECTD
Jason Wood1004603251652
Colin Dowling1858236311851
Message Board Consensus1205804403700



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