The Atlanta Falcons made a surprise announcement Friday night, declaring Todd Gurley out with a knee injury. This leaves fourth-year running back Brian Hill as the de-facto starter for a high-powered Atlanta offense. Gurley is currently the RB13 in PPR scoring, so there is definitely some value to be had here. Can Hill step up and fill this void, or will he ultimately disappoint with his opportunity?
Fantasy Football: Brian Hill Outlook Without Todd Gurley
Let’s start with the obvious: Brian Hill is not a good running back. We’ve already seen Hill fill in for an injured starter, and the results aren’t great. In 2019, Hill recorded just 44 yards on 24 rushing attempts during his two games as Atlanta’s starter. Even though he’s averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry this year, he’s still not playing all that well. According to Pro Football Focus, Hill’s 57.3 overall grade ranks 57th out of 61 eligible running backs.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a good running back to succeed in Atlanta’s offense. Rushing success has more to do with the offensive line and playcalling than the actual runner, so a bad running back can put up decent numbers in the right situation. Gurley himself hasn’t played well, as his 54.6 PFF grade ranks dead last among running backs.
As previously mentioned, Gurley is currently the RB13 on the season. However, he owes a high percentage of his fantasy success to touchdowns. So far this season, 38.8% of Gurley’s fantasy points have come from touchdowns. This is a rather high rate, and should be worrisome considering the highly volatile nature of scoring opportunities.
At this stage in their respective careers, Brian Hill and Todd Gurley are similar talents. That means, just like Gurley, Brian Hill will need to find the endzone in order to put up a solid fantasy performance. Let’s take a look at the matchup and see how easy it will be for Hill to score a touchdown or two.
Brian Hill and the Atlanta Falcons face off against the Las Vegas Raiders in what should be a high-scoring affair. The Raiders are a decent defense against the run, but that can be overrated. Touchdowns matter more than anything else in fantasy football, and the 54-point over/under implies that Vegas believes there will be a lot of points on the board.
This is a reasonable assumption, as Derek Carr is quietly playing like one of the best quarterbacks in football. He should have no trouble moving the offense up and down the field, meaning that the Falcons will have to go blow-for-blow if they want to keep up.
Matt Ryan might not be what he was, but he’s still capable of keeping pace in a shootout if Julio Jones plays. Jones left Week 11 early with a hamstring injury, but all reports expect him to suit up for Week 12. Jones obviously makes this offense a lot better, and will allow Atlanta to go up and down the field at a much faster pace. He also isn’t a big touchdown guy, which means his presence shouldn’t get in the way of Hill’s red zone work.
Ultimately, this combination of opportunity and matchup makes Hill a fine RB2. The volume alone should keep him from being a complete bust, and he has a decent shot of falling into the endzone once or twice. If you’re in a pinch and need a quick start, you could do a lot worse than Brian Hill.
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