So far in the 2010 fantasy football season, a good number of top running back options have been a disappointment to owners due to injury, ineffectiveness, time shares and more. Guys like Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Charles, Shonn Greene, Reggie Bush, Ryan Matthews, DeAngelo Williams to name a few have all let down their respective fantasy football owners to some degree or another. The original thinking was that running back had great depth due to the amount of committee backfields but the developments through three weeks of the season have destroyed that notion. Thus many fantasy football owners have begun looking for help and one name recently popped up to offer some excitement. That man is Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis who registered the biggest eye popping out of nowhere fantasy performance of the season with his 144 yard rushing (with 1 TD), 7 catch for 36 yards annihilation of a very solid Baltimore Ravens defense. As a result, many a fantasy owner channeled their inner Usain Bolt and ran to the wire in order to pick up or make a claim on Hillis. So now the questions are coming in fast and furious and I am here to help. Was Hillis’ game just a flash in the pan or does he hold value for the rest of the year??? Lets take a look.
For starters, Hillis was drafted in the seventh round by the Denver Broncos and played sparingly his first two years in the league. During his time there, Hillis showed very good hands out of the backfield and a knack for scoring TD’s in the red zone (5 rushing TD’s as a rookie in 2008). Blessed with Mike Alstott size and strength, Hillis profiled as a lesser version of the famed Tampa Bay fullback with much better receiving skills. He went largely unused in Denver and so when he was dealt to the Broncos, it failed to register on the fantasy football radar.
Entering 2010, Hillis was behind Jerome Harrison on the depth chart and got his chance when Harrison got injured in Week 2. Based on his awesome game last week, Hillis showed off the previously unknown parts of his game. For starters, Hillis has great hands and is a definite asset in PPR leagues. The Browns have below average passers in Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace who oftentimes like to dump the ball off to the backs and so Hillis should continue to be a pass catching dynamo. As far as his running is concerned, Hillis has very deceptive speed which he showed off Sunday. The comparison to Alstott is right on in that he is a straight ahead plow runner who you wont see break it outside very often. So most of his yards will be from the north south variety.
All in all I think Hillis stands a good chance to be a nice find for fantasy football owners the remainder of the season. Jerome Harrison was awful the first to weeks before he got hurt so coach Eric Mangini has every reason to keep him in the lineup. I already noted how he has a nose for the end zone and he should continue to receive almost all of the opportunities in the red zone. Now I am not saying Hillis will be a top ten running back this season but no doubt he showed last Sunday that he has the goods to be a big help the rest of the way. If he didn’t have the receiving skills, I would not be as excited as I am about Hillis but since he possesses that skill, he thus makes himself potentially a very good all-around back. If he happened to not be picked up in your league, now is the time to do it so act quickly.