Every year, there are a slew of players drafted super high in fantasy drafts that are flat-out disappointments. So far this season, there’s a good chance you’ve been let down by LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Andrew Luck and C.J. Anderson, to name a few. Another of those disappointments is Bengals running back Jeremy Hill, who came into this season as Cincinnati’s supposed “bell cow”. Does this term sound demeaning? Damn right it does. It’s like calling your starting running back a “prized pig” or something. But that’s irrelevant.
Hill has been flat-out trash through three weeks, totaling just 123 yards on 41 carries. He scored twice in the opening-week thrashing of the Raiders, which helped mask an otherwise underwhelming 19-carry, 63-yard afternoon. Hill has averaged exactly 3 yards-a-carry, after being near the top of the league at 5.1 yards-per-tote as a rookie in 2014. What gives?
It’s tough to say. He fumbled twice in Week 2 against the Chargers, which earned him a prompt benching. In his place, former good prospect Gio Bernard (in photo) carried it 20 times for 123 yards. However, when asked about how Hill’s role moving forward would be affected by the fumble struggles, head coach Marvin Lewis said that Hill had served his time and would have his normal role back.
But…once Sunday’s game against the Ravens was done, that apparently wasn’t the case. Hill finished the win with 12 carries for just 21 yards, while Bernard had 13 carries for 49. You can’t really blame the Bengals for using Bernard, considering he’s clearly been the more effective option through the first few weeks. He’s also a guy that has averaged at least four yards per carry through each of his first three NFL seasons. He’s not built like your standard every-down back at just 5’9″, but he’s quick and shifty in the open field. These are two things big ol’ Jeremy Hill is not.
So, here you are, after having drafted Hill in either the first or second round of your draft, with an apparent bust on your hands. What do you do? Do you trade him now? Or try and ride it out and hope for better things ahead? It’s still early, after all.
So far, Hill’s struggles haven’t come back to haunt the 3-0 Bengals, but it also seems apparent that Giovani Bernard deserves to be seeing as much playing time as possible. Bernard is also a more proven commodity as a pass-catcher, which means he’s almost certainly going to be out there for third downs and passing situations.
Hill hasn’t lost confidence, though, as evidenced by these postgame quotes (via ESPN’s Coley Harvey):
“It’s coming,” Hill said, referencing a conversation he had with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson walking off the field following Sunday’s 28-24 win at Baltimore. “I talked to Hue after and he knows it’s coming. We can feel it. There are certain plays, certain situations where we can feel it.”
“There’s going to be a day when the running game is going to pop,” he said. “So we’re going to keep pounding, keep grinding. We’re not going to get in the tank and pass it every play. It’ll be a day. We’ve just got to keep pounding and keep working.”
These quotes sound more like Hill is sensing a budding romance or something with Hue Jackson, but we can assume he’s talking about football.
If I were a Hill fantasy owner, I’d hang onto him and hope that he’s right in saying that he’s going to come around eventually. This is a guy that rushed for over 1,100 yards as a rookie last season. It’s obvious that the ability is there. It’s just about finding what works and sticking with it. Plus, if you trade him now, you’re selling as low as possible on a guy for which you likely had major expectations. There are still 13 games left in the season. Pulling the trigger on a trade after Week 3 is the epitome of “panicky”.
Of course, if some idiot is offering you some kind of bounty return for Hill, then you do it and don’t look back. But if that’s not the case, then now isn’t the time to be trading Jeremy Hill.