Predicting Peyton Hillis' Long-Term Fantasy Value in 2013

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistOctober 27, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 21: Running back Peyton Hillis #44 of the New York Giants celebrates a touchdown in the third quarter against the Minnesota Vikings during a game at MetLife Stadium on October 21, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Desperate times call for desperate measures, which explains how the New York Giants and several fantasy football managers invested in Peyton Hillis amidst a sea of shaky running back options.

With six teams enjoying their bye week and Brandon Jacobs inactive again, according to The Star-Ledger's Conor Orr, some hard-pressed managers have no choice but to roll with Hillis in Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

That's understandable, but don't count on starting Hillis again this season.

In the year's ugliest Monday Night Football bout, Hillis bottled up some fantasy usefulness with a goal-line touchdown and five catches for 45 yards as Eli Manning played with the premier goal of avoiding more turnovers. 

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But Hillis also produced just 36 yards out of 18 carries, failing to break a double-digit-yard run during the evening. Even during his breakout 2010, the 250-pound back was never mistaken for a speed demon. Now his main job is to protect Manning and give him an escape route when no other receiver is open.

Hillis simply benefited from being the only guy around to receive touches, which alone warrants at least flex consideration in this running back landscape. Just don't expect the ample playing time to keep coming.

After Week 8's match with the Philadelphia Eagles, the Giants will embark on a much-needed bye week to heal their many wounds. That provides Jacobs, who recorded 106 rushing yards and two scores during his last outing, with an extra few days to rest his injured hamstring.

Sure, you can't trust a 31-year-old rusher to properly recover, so maybe he's still not ready on the other side of the bye. Fair enough, but did you already forget about Andre Brown and David Wilson?

Brown, who injured his leg during the Giants' last preseason game, is eligible to return from the short-term injured reserve for their Week 10 game against the Oakland Raiders. Had he not suffered the ailment, Brown would have entered the season in a timeshare with Wilson, whose shaky start would have likely carved out the starting role for Brown's taking.

Orr reported that Brown returned to practice on Oct. 17, which is a good sign for him returning on Nov. 10.

The oft-injured 26-year-old averaged 5.3 yards per carry for the Giants last season, scoring eight touchdowns in 10 games as their short-yardage back in the red zone. He could regain that role while earning more carries between the 20s without having to play second fiddle to Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Record's Art Stapleton is encouraged enough by Brown's progress to adamantly recommend that fantasy owners scoop him up before it's too late:

Wilson is also looking to return to the field after sustaining a neck injury shortly after scoring his first touchdown of the season during Week 5. While he disappointed with just 3.3 yards per carry, Wilson still boasts lightning-quick speed that vaulted him to become a highly targeted fantasy commodity in August.

Hillis is running unopposed in New York's barren backfield right now, but after the bye week, reinforcements should arrive that will quickly make him the odd man out. Don't let one short touchdown run and success from three years ago fool you into mistaking Hillis as a viable long-term fantasy option.