Following a knee injury that will sideline Donald Brown, Vick Ballard will be the Colts starting running back going into Week 6 of the 2012 season. This could be a big opportunity for the rookie to earn a larger role in the young Colts offense.
From a fantasy perspective, Ballard’s numbers through 4 games in 2012 have been nothing to shake a stick at. He has had 21 carries for 42 yards and 1 reception for 9 yards.
His rushing average is an abysmal 2.0 yards per carry. However, this is a very small sample size and there is more to Ballard’s potential than can be seen in these numbers.
Wk Opp Result ATT YDS AVG LNG TD REC YDS AVG LNG TD FUM LOST 5 GB W 30-27 6 11 1.8 7 0 1 4 4 4 0 – – 3 JAC L 17-22 5 12 2.4 5 0 – - – – – – – 2 MIN W 23-20 5 13 2.2 9 0 0 0 – – 0 – – 1 @CHI L 21-41 4 6 1.5 3 0 – – – – – – –
Ballard is a different kind of back than those seen in the Colts backfield in recent memory. His build and physical running style remind some Colts fans of Edgerrin James, and that style is precisely the kind of ground action the team needs. He is big and physical with tackle breaking potential, and his physicality offers him the ability to rumble forward through tackles on momentum. His role thusfar in the 2012 season has been that of a 3rd down back, and that lends some insight into why his numbers are lacking. He is a between the tackles runner and has been used for short yardage gains.
As a starter, he will see a different role and this will be an important opportunity for him. Ballard will likely be more involved in the passing game which will allow us to see how well he can move in open space. However, with Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore potentially in the mix there are some limitations. Moore could come in as a 3rd down back, and if Ballard’s yards per carry woes continue it could mean more carries for Carter.
Unfortunately, the Colts offensive line isn’t exactly blazing trails and that will be a limitation to any back running for this team. Any running back from Indy is a fantasy risk. Donald Brown hasn’t been winning over fantasy owners in his time as a starter. For that reason there is room for Ballard to rise into the full time starting role. Going forward as a fantasy owner, Ballard has some upside on a team that needs to find production in a run game. He could be worth picking up in deeper leagues or as a flier to stuff on your roster in hopes of a bright future.