Ronnie Hillman: Complete Fantasy Profile and Draft Strategy

Jessica MarieCorrespondent IISeptember 3, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 30:  Ronnie Hillman #34 of the Denver Broncos runs the ball through the Arizona Cardinals defensive line at University of Phoenix Stadium on August 30, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Ronnie Hillman may not be one of Peyton Manning's targets, but he still figures to be a key component in the resurgence of the Denver offense in 2012.

The upcoming rookie and San Diego State product was drafted in the third round of this year's NFL draft with the 67th overall pick, and Manning could be the perfect quarterback to help him thrive. The gunslinger has never been afraid to use his running backs, and Hillman could soon see himself become a beneficiary of that.

Hillman is currently listed third on the Broncos' depth chart behind Willis McGahee and Lance Ball, but after his 68-yard performance in the Broncos' final preseason game, he proved he can handle whatever workload John Fox decides to give him.

Here's a look at if and when you should draft Hillman in your fantasy league.

Average Draft Position: Hillman's ADP is 170.0, according to

Injury Assessment: For much of the preseason, Hillman has been hampered by a hamstring injury, which stands as the primary reason he's listed third on the depth chart behind Ball, according to The Denver Post's Jeff Legwold. The Broncos have faith that he can become their backup, but he has to prove he can earn it first.

Season Projections: According to, Hillman is currently projected to finish with 287 yards and a touchdown, but if he earns the backup role, those numbers will be better. 

Bye: Week 7

Splits: Last season, among the Broncos' top three rushers—excluding quarterback Tim Tebow—McGahee got about 65 percent of the carries. Behind him (and Tebow), Ball got about 25 percent. But it's important to keep a couple of things in mind: The Broncos offense is going to be much different this season without a dual-threat quarterback like Tebow. Manning isn't going to be keeping the ball and rushing it.

Additionally, if Hillman can seize the backup role, he should get at least a quarter of the carries. As it stands, though, last season's third-in-line—Knowshon Moreno—got only 10 percent of carries.

Players to Take Before Hillman: Danny Woodhead, Dexter McCluster, Robert Turbin, James Starks

Players to Take After Hillman: Knowshon Moreno, Adrian Peterson, Joe McKnight, Alex Green

Verdict: There are a lot of what-if's that will dictate Hillman's success, the first one being if he steals the backup role away from Ball—and if he can prove that he's fully recovered from that hamstring injury. There's a good chance he will, and if he explodes, this could be a high-payoff draft move.