Hill already caught our attention after he played well in his rookie year as a receiver, running back and return man, and he finished as the No. 20 Fantasy receiver in standard leagues. He only averaged 26 snaps on offense in 2016, but Reid said he’s ready for more.
“Maybe he can double that or at least take it up a couple notches and allow him to get in more in a starting role,” Reid said on SiriusXM NFL Radio during the Pro Bowl. “We use him a lot on special teams, obviously. When he came to us, that’s what we originally thought we had. He then said, ‘Listen, I can do this offensive thing.’ He’s innately a smart kid. We kept adding to it, and he got it. I’d expect him to learn that whole (playbook) by the end of all the OTAs and training camp and then be even more of a threat.”
Fantasy owners would love to see that happen for Hill. Despite his limited role, Hill still had 61 catches for 593 yards and six touchdowns on 83 targets and 24 carries for 267 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 14 kickoff returns for 384 yards and one touchdown and 39 punt returns for 592 yards and two touchdowns, and his role as a return man earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Hill was electric in his rookie campaign, and he was actually clocked as the fastest player in the NFL in 2016, according to NFL.com. He had the two fastest plays of the season when he got up to 23.24 mph in Week 2 on a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Houston and 22.77 mph in Week 12 on an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown at Denver.
Now, imagine Hill touching the ball more on offense. That idea excites Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who was with Hill at the Pro Bowl.
“He’s obviously an extremely unique player,” Smith said in an interview with CBS Sports. “He has so many strengths and can do so many different things. We’ll build on it, and we have time this offseason to look at it. You have to balance it. You want to have him out there as much as possible, but you don’t want to wear him thin. Obviously, he’s a guy that you want out there as much as possible because any time he touches the football he has that play-making ability.”
Hill ended up being a good Fantasy option by the end of the season, although he was touchdown dependent. He scored double digits in Fantasy points in four of his final six games, but he scored in all four of those outings.
Over those six games, Hill touched the ball an average of just 6.5 times with 25 total catches and 14 total carries. He did have 37 targets over that span, but he only averaged 5.2 targets per game for the season. And he had just seven games with more than five targets in 2016.
As Reid said, the goal is to get Hill more involved, and he had seven games where he had at least six touches last season. He averaged 10 Fantasy points in a standard league over that span, including five games with at least eight points.
That’s the player Fantasy owners will be looking for when they invest in Hill in 2017, but Reid said even as a starter, Hill will remain more of a niche player than a featured receiver or running back. Reid said not to expect Hill to dominate touches at running back given his size (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) because of the blocking responsibilities.
The Chiefs could have a need at running back with Jamaal Charles, 30, coming off knee issues and not a lock to return to Kansas City, and Spencer Ware was ineffective as a starter. But Hill is not the answer, according to Reid.
“He’s not real big — he’s not over 200 pounds,” Reid said in the Kansas City Star. “To ask him to do that … I don’t think that’s where you’re going to make your living with him.”
Hill needs to improve as a receiver in his sophomore campaign and continue to be the No. 2 option behind tight end Travis Kelce, who had 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns on 117 targets. But there are two factors to consider with Hill when it comes to his situation as a receiver with the Chiefs.
The first is in regards to Jeremy Maclin, who was miserable in 2016 with 44 catches for 530 yards and two touchdowns on 76 targets in 12 games. Maclin had 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns on 124 targets in 2015 and could get back to that level or close to it, which would impact Hill.
And the other factor with Hill is Smith and this passing game. The Chiefs aren’t going to open up the offense with Smith, so this passing game will always have a low ceiling. It could be hard for Kelce, Hill and Maclin to all post dominant stats without some game-breaking plays, which is where Hill has an edge. He had seven catches and three carries of 20-plus yards, and clearly his speed is a difference-maker the Chiefs would like to exploit.
The key for Fantasy owners will be not reaching for Hill on Draft Day. He was great as a rookie — the only better rookie receiver was Michael Thomas with the Saints — and could improve as a sophomore. But the news from Reid at the Pro Bowl could cause Hill to be over-drafted in 2017, and he could disappoint you if the touchdowns disappear, even with more snaps in an increased role.
We view Hill as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in standard and PPR formats (he’s a No. 2 receiver in leagues where you get points for returns), and he’s worth drafting in Round 7 or 8. But don’t be surprised if a big play or two in the preseason drives up his draft stock, which could be a mistake.
On a different team with a different quarterback, Hill could emerge as a reliable Fantasy threat. But since he’s not expected to be a dominant receiver, and his role as a running back will remain limited, his potential is still capped.
We’re glad he’s expected to get more work, which will benefit him and the Chiefs. Fantasy owners just need to keep things in perspective and draft him accordingly, and hopefully he’s not a bust in 2017.