Still high on Hillis

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Although Cleveland Browns fans and a large percentage of fantasy owners may not be, I'm high on Peyton Hillis.

One year after gracing the cover of the 2012 version of the "Madden NFL" video game in a Browns jersey and going in the second round in fantasy drafts, Hillis, now with the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal, is once again anonymous.

Or at least intentionally forgotten.

Hillis is being drafted 29th among running backs in Yahoo! leagues and 31st at the position on after rushing for 587 yards and three TDs on 161 carries in 10 games.

Sure, Hillis will be behind Jamaal Charles on the Chiefs' depth chart, but that ADP is ludicrous.

No one is denying Charles' talent or his grip on the No. 1 running back job in Kansas City, but the 24-year-old suffered an ACL tear a year ago and even when healthy was never a 300-plus carry back.

While Charles may be back to full strength for the start of the 2012 season, there's no way the new Chiefs coaching staff led by coach Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll are going to give Charles much more than the career-high 230 carries he handled in 2010-11. That doesn't mean they plan on running the ball less, however.

According to the Kansas City Star, in the Chiefs' perfect world, Charles and Hillis will share 500 touches. Even if Charles receives 230 carries and 45 catches like he did two seasons ago, that still leaves 225 touches for Hillis.

If anyone knows how to maximize Hillis' talents, it's Daboll, who was Cleveland's OC in 2010-11, when Hillis battered his way to 1,177 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns on 270 carries and also snared 61 passes for 477 yards and two scores. Daboll was the offensive coordinator with Miami last season, overseeing an offense that ran the ball 469 times for 1,987 yards and did the seemingly impossible by getting a 1,000-yard rushing season out of Reggie Bush.

Of course, any chance of a bounce-back season will take hard work from Hillis himself after the 6-foot-2, 250-pound back dealt with a hamstring injury and also sat out a game with a sore throat. and NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks recently observed Hillis at the Chiefs' training camp and said the running back reported to camp in "outstanding shape" while running the football with "urgency and physicality" and "displaying soft hands and superb receiving skills."

It sounds like Hillis is motivated to have a big season, and that could be bad news for opposing tacklers standing in running back's way. Considering the price tag, Hillis will be a major steal when he proves to be a starting quality flex option with RB2 upside.

Plus, wouldn't you rather bet on the charging bull than the guy holding the red cape? I would, especially when that bull is seeking a new contract.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas J. Harrigan at

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