Man alive has there ever been some serious Monday carnage over the past two weeks. I mean sure, every week the damage report is thick, and every week I write at least 37 posts on Monday assessing the results of the week’s major casualties while suggesting a direction for those flocking to bridges and such. Hell, I write that sentence every Monday, except sometimes the number changes because we’re all about variety around these parts.
But over the last two weeks we’ve now seen five quarterbacks go down and be replaced by their backups, in addition to the best tight end in the game possibly playing his last snap of the regular season yesterday, or at least the last snap in which he’s relevant for fantasy purposes. Now Willis McGahee is set to jump aboard our sinking ship.
McGahee suffered a knee injury during the Broncos’ win over the Chargers yesterday, and tests have confirmed that he tore his MCL, an injury that will sideline him for six-to-eight weeks. No worries bro, because that Ronnie Hillman handcuff will slide right in off your bench. Right? RIGHT?
Hillman’s value was already rising, but now it’s taking a bounding leap into RB2 territory. McGahee was already fading, which happens to 31-year-old running backs. It’s nature, don’t fight it.
McGahee’s overall per game rushing average isn’t horrible (73.1), but that number’s a little skewed, and it doesn’t reflect the true McGahee. Sprinkled between his three 100-yard rushing games are five very mediocre games with less than 60 rushing yards. Inconsistency is thy name, and with McGahee now out for the remainder of the season, you can go ahead and click that drop button in all formats. It’s sad, yes, but waiting doesn’t make this any easier.
So in comes Hillman, the younger, fresher third-round pick from last spring who’s impressed in his limited action, averaging 4.2 yards per touch (250 overall yards on 49 carries and 10 catches). Included in Hillman’s stat line are three chunk plays: runs for 31 and 21 yards, and a 29-yard catch. He has burst and acceleration through holes and the ability to make defenders miss in the open field after short receptions, and he’s a poor man’s C.J. Spiller in terms of his running style. A really, really, really poor man’s C.J. Spiller. Like nearly bankrupt.
Hillman’s ownership reflects his handcuff status, as he’s currently rostered in only 14 percent of Yahoo leagues, and less than one percent of ESPN leagues. But since he’s now ascended to become the lead running back in an offense where he’ll receive plenty of passing support from Peyton Manning, you’ll need a high waiver priority this week to get a whiff of Hillman. In fact, likely the highest priority, and if there’s any justice in this world his ownership should rise by 30-to-40 percent.
Hillman’s value gets even better when we look at the Broncos’ schedule. A slate that features two games against the Chiefs and their 129.2 rushing yards allowed per game is highly favorable, with the Bucs the only rush defense currently ranked above 23rd among Denver’s remaining six opponents.