One of the most entertaining parts of fantasy football is finding the free agent gems. There are always a few players who start the season hot, and are owned in less than 20% of leagues.
There’s nothing like watching people rush to the waiver wire to put their claim in for the next player that will help them win the coveted fantasy football championship. Whether you’re in a league at work, or in a league with random strangers, it’s always the priority to prove that you’re better. To do that, you have to be all over the waiver wire.
On Sunday, around 3:49pm EST, a large amount of fantasy owners put in their claim for Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis. If you’re one of them, then congratulations because he should absolutely be owned.
After the Browns broke down in the fourth quarter and tacked on their third straight loss of the season, people still saw the bright side in the fact that a running back just rushed for over 100 yards against the Baltimore Ravens. A running back from Cleveland, no less.
Hillis finished Sunday’s matchup against one of the top rush defenses in the league with 144 yards on just 22 carries. He caught the ball seven times for 36 yards on top of that. Just in case you were unaware, Cleveland has never had a running back eclipse even 80 yards rushing against Baltimore in the previous 10 seasons. Also, if you don’t know how good the Ravens run defense is, it’s only given up five 100 yard rushers in 70 games. Well, you better make that six in 71 games.
Hillis absolutely dominated on Sunday, as he refused to go down by guys like Haloti Ngata and even Ray Lewis. He didn’t have huge lanes to run through; he created them. Hillis got more carries thanks to Jerome Harrison being inactive with a thigh injury. After his performance against Baltimore, Eric Mangini came out and told us that Hillis is going to stay in the starting spot, although Harrison will still be utilized.
So why should you pick him up? Well, if you’re not already sold on the fact that he scored a touchdown and had nearly 150 yards against the Ravens, I suppose I’ll sell him on you even more. Hillis is purely a north/south runner. You won’t see him try and outrun anybody on the edge, and he does not go down on first contact and he falls forward gaining the extra few yards. Those are abilities that really make you great in the NFL.
But this wasn’t just a fluke game for Hillis. For his career, he’s averaged over five yards a carry. We’re not just talking about a few carries here and there, either. Against the Oakland Raiders in 2008, he rushed for 74 yards on 17 carries, and then broke out against the Jets the following week with 129 yards on 22 carries. He always finds a way to score.
But what makes Hillis even more valuable is the fact that he’s not just a one dimensional running back. If he gets stopped in the running game, he will come out and catch the ball. He has very reliable hands out of the backfield and makes play after the catch, again because he doesn’t go down on first contact.
To pile on to the reasons to pick him up, you have to consider what the Browns offense looks like. The quarterback position is questionable, and the wide receivers are even worse. The only thing Cleveland can do successfully is put the ball in the hands of Peyton Hillis.
He had 29 touches and averaged over 6.5 yards a touch on Sunday, and he will continue to get touches after this game. He’s one of the Browns' only real offensive talents and he will only continue to produce for your fantasy team. He won’t get 100 yards every game, but he has a knack for getting into the end zone, and he keeps the chains moving.
Even if you are stacked at the running back position, you need to pick this guy up, at least for trade bait. He’s only going to get more valuable as the season approaches, and you should start him until further notice, even with Jerome Harrison coming back.