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Deep Sleeper: Michael Hill



Running back is a position where I like to keep tabs on the backups, given the volatility of the position. One week Roy Helu is your 5th round high upside guy, and next week Alfred Morris is getting 28 carries in the season opener. One mistake people make is overvaluing talent at the running back position (I myself have been guilty of this, the most recent example being my personal fatwa against Montee Ball). The reality is that it doesn’t take much talent to be productive (Thomas Jones, I’m looking at you).

In Michael Hill, you have a running back who was dominant in college, getting signed by a team with a semi-volatile situation at running back. I actually heard about Hill through Jarrett Behar, a writer over at DLF, and immediately tweeted out this gem:


To add insult to injury, Hill himself favorited it. Sorry, man. Now we’re here, and it’s awkward, but I promise we’ll make it through this. Anyway, I know this may seem hypocritical since I just wrote about how Mathews is a value at his current ADP, but hear me out. The Charger’s backfield is one of those situations where, should the lead back go down, there isn’t much competition for carries. Danny Woodhead is a 5’8” receiving back, and Ronnie Brown is 31, inching ever closer to his swan song with each passing minute. Should Hill receive some carries, he might not be half bad.

Coming from the small Missouri Western State, it would be expected that Hill dominate the competition in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association… and that’s exactly what he did.













Final Year






Final Year/Game






In addition to piling up yards and touchdowns, he also ran for 6.97 yards per carry in his final year. The most statistically significant of these numbers is his stellar YDs/G number, which ranks in the 95th percentile of running backs whose production I’ve gathered. Again, this is exactly what you want to see from a player in an inferior conference.

mh2Hill’s Speed Score is subpar. 100 is the average, and ideally he would be higher than that. For backs I have tracked back to 1999, Hill is 277th out of 382 in Speed Score. He ranks a much more palatable 35th in Explosion Score, 13th in raw Agility Score, and 25th in weight adjusted Agility Score (basically a version of Speed Score for agility). Outside of Speed Score, Hill is top 35 is all other physical measurable. This awesome widget from allows us to visualize Hill’s rare attributes:

He’s less ‘hella’ slow than I first thought, more just ‘a lot slower than I’d like a smaller undrafted running back to be.’  In all the other important physical drills, Hill scored in the higher percentiles. I like to think of him as faster version of Rex Burkhead, if Burkhead landed in a situation where playing time was easier to come by (and I swear I’m not just making that comp because Burkhead showed up on Hill’s list of similar players). If we compare their charts side by side, they’re eerily similar:


Regarding the former Nebraska back, Fantasy Douche wrote: “In the case of Burkhead, I’m fine dismissing the bad 40 time because I think football is generally a game of creating physical momentum, and the athleticism that Burkhead showed on a number of his combine drills, combined with his weight, tells me that he can create momentum.  If Burkhead can generate enough power with his legs to jump 39 inches, I feel like he can generate enough power with his 214 pound frame to run against NFL defenses.” If you’ve applied that line of thinking to Burkhead, you can probably apply it to Hill as well. His Explosion and Agility scores are off the charts good, he’s just speed deficient. The negatives with Hill are that (1) he went undrafted, (2) he’s 24, meaning he’s only 2 years away from his efficiency declining, and (3) he’s a tweener at only 209 pounds. The bright side is that you won’t have to give up a valuable commodity to get him on your team. On top of that, his road to playing is less obstructed than Burkhead’s, who must fight through BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, and Giovani Bernard to get on the field. Hill only has to worry about Ryan Mathews and maybe Ronnie Brown (assuming Brown makes the roster). Sure, Woodhead would steal passing down snaps if this hypothetical situation ever occurred, but are you really going to complain, especially with the price you have to pay to get him?

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