Fantasy Football 2012: Why Peyton Hillis Is the Most Undervalued Player in 2012

Bruce Chen@bsk1364Analyst IAugust 24, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - AUGUST 18: Peyton Hillis #40 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs during pre-game warm-ups prior to playing against the St. Louis Rams in a pre-season game at the Edward Jones Dome on August 18, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Peyton Hillis is going as the 86th overall player in fantasy football, according to ESPN's LiveDraft Results.  

When we read that sentence again in midseason, half the fantasy world will slap a hand to their head in absolute disgust that they didn't take advantage of that. 

The Kansas City Chiefs have been on record as saying that they want to use their backs a lot this season. In fact, they have said that they want Hillis and Jamaal Charles to combine for 500 touches this season.

Now, of course the pertinent fantasy question is who will be getting more of those touches? More importantly, is "500" just some number that the Chiefs are blowing smoke with?

I believe the Chiefs will give their backs more than 500 touches this season. And more importantly, I believe Hillis will receive just as many, if not more touches than Charles will.

In Charles' best season, he had 230 carries and 45 catches for a total of 1935 scrimmage yards, but had just a paltry eight touchdowns. So, if you're doing the math, that leaves 270 touches for Hillis, right? For the record, Hillis' best season saw him touch the ball 318 times. It of course, lead to him getting injured the next season and not posting half the amount of touches or production.

Now, there is precedent for the Chiefs' heavy backfield usage. In that same Charles breakout season, the Chiefs also fielded Thomas Jones, a wily veteran with similar short yardage skills as Hillis, and a similar pounding style. 

Here's the crazy thing, though. Despite Charles averaging a whopping 6.4 yards per carry, the Chiefs felt scared to over work their star back, and gave Jones 245 carries. Yes, 15 more than one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league.

Jones averaged just 3.7 yards a carry. Awkward. He also added 14 catches. He totalled 1018 yards from scrimmage and rushed for six scores. 

In that season, Jones and Charles touched the ball a combined 534 times.

Now take into account the fact that Charles is coming off of an ACL injury. There have been very few NFL athletes that have such an injury and come back to produce the same way they did before. Heck, one of the most reliable players in the league and somebody whose game doesn't really rely on athletic ability went from 123 to 86 catches post-ACL, one Wes Welker.

Conservatively, based on the fact that the Chiefs will want to ease Charles back in, the fact that Hillis is much better and younger than Jones was two years ago and that Matt Cassell isn't Tom Brady, we can safely say that Peyton Hillis will have at least 230 touches this season.

That is enough to be fantasy relevant, and justifies him being drafted at least two rounds higher than he is currently going.