Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill may have been facing the Indianapolis Colts' second-string defense on Thursday night, but he sure turned some heads. Hill reaffirmed why the Bengals opted to target him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft after carrying 20 times for 90 yards and accumulating six receptions for 70 yards in the first half of the preseason Week 4 contest.
According to Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer, this performance may have proved Hill can step up when he's challenged to do so:
While Hill dazzled against the Colts, he also showed why he's currently playing second fiddle to second-year back Giovani Bernard—he's still developing and making rookie mistakes. One such mishap led to a sack of quarterback Jason Campbell, via ESPN's Coley Harvey:
This is the reason his fantasy football value is limited at the moment.
Hill certainly brings plenty of value to Cincinnati as a change-of-pace back, but considering the team's potentially questionable offensive line—fourth-round rookie Russell Bodine is slated to start at center—he could be considered a liability in pass protection.
Now, this isn't to say Hill won't have any kind of fantasy value this season. In 2013, Bernard was learning the subtleties of playing offense in the NFL, and he was given more reps later in the season as a result—he carried 72 times during the team's first eight games and 98 times over the final eight.
We can expect this scenario to play out for Hill in the coming season. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has already stated that Hill is "worthy of playing with [the starters]," and it's not far-fetched to think he can take over for plodding veteran rusher BenJarvus Green-Ellis this year in Cincinnati.
According to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Hill's current average draft position is 10.04—good enough to rank 45th among running backs. If he continues to impress the way he did on Thursday night, and finds his way into a bigger role in the Bengals offense, he could provide some nice late-season value for fantasy owners.