Broncos’ backfield could limit Moreno’s fantasy value

Broncos rookie Knowshon Moreno's fantasy value could be hurt if he sees splits carries this season. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Broncos rookie Knowshon Moreno's fantasy value could be hurt if he sees splits carries this season. (David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

The 2008 season proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that rookies can make a huge impact in the world of fantasy football.

Whether it was Matt Forte, Chris Johnson or Steve Slaton, the list of first-year players that became fantasy starters was impressive. While it’s hard to envision a scenario where such a large number of rookies will make the same sort of impact in 2009, there are a few players that have come to the forefront in fantasy circles.

At the top of that list is Knowshon Moreno.

The former Georgia standout was taken by the Denver Broncos with the No. 12 overall pick in the draft, and he’ll be the first rookie taken in most fantasy formats. But for those of you who think he’ll make the same sort of initial impact as Forte or Johnson, well, it might be time to temper those expectations.

Moreno actually ran behind Correll Buckhalter and LaMont Jordan in offseason workouts. That doesn’t mean he won’t open the season as the starter — in fact, that’s what I’m projecting — but coach Josh McDaniels won’t hand Moreno the role.

He’ll have to earn it.

Buckhalter has been an effective running back, but his numbers with the Eagles were limited behind Brian Westbrook. Jordan, who knows the offense well after spending last season with McDaniels in New England, has a shot to earn a role as the team’s goal-line back.

Peyton Hillis could also vulture some touchdown opportunities, and Ryan Torain remains in the mix as well.

The presence of these players and the potential for a committee to emerge could limit Moreno’s rookie totals.

I still think Moreno has 1,000-yard potential, and his skills as a receiver out of the backfield make him more attractive than one-dimensional runners.

But there could be weeks that Moreno loses carries and posts inconsistent stat lines, especially when you consider McDaniels’ fondness for committees with the Patriots. The chance for that sort of scenario to emerge will make Moreno a third- or fourth-round selection in most seasonal drafts.

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