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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fantasy football: Should Peyton Hillis be benched?

It hasn't been a good eight days for Peyton Hillis.

Last Sunday, he missed the Browns' win over the Dolphins because of strep throat.

This week, there were rumors -- which fireballed when ESPN's Adam Schefter jumped into the fray -- that Hillis' decision not to play last week was because of his unhappiness with his contract, which pays him $600,000 this season.

Hillis' tumultuous week was capped by a Sunday in which he had a season-low 15 touches -- only three more than backfield mate Montario Hardesty -- in the Browns' loss to the Titans.

Whether or not you believe the Browns should reward Hillis for his huge 2010 season by extending his contract is fodder for another blog. Here, we're going to concentrate on Hillis' fantasy value, which is at its lowest since he was a blocking back in Denver.

Hillis rushed for 46 yards on 10 carries and caught five passes for 23 yards against Tennessee. Hardesty, meanwhile, had seven carries for 22 yards and five receptions (plus four drops) for 49 yards.

In his last two games, the first of which was without Hillis, Hardesty has 21 rushes for 89 yards and eight receptions for 68 yards.

He will continue to cut into Hillis' workload, which might not be a terrible thing, considering how Hillis tailed off at the end of 2010.

Hillis should have no reason to be worn down this season, and you would figure the Browns would prefer to have his touches closer to the mid-20s (he had an average of 27 in Weeks 1 and 2) than the mid-teens.

The Browns are off in Week 5, so you can sit on this decision for a week.

In Week 6, they play at Oakland, which was ranked 26th against the run entering Sunday, then allowed 30 carries for 183 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to the pass-happy Patriots.

Hillis has to be a fantasy starter against Oakland, and the Browns' schedule in Weeks 7 to 12 is about as imposing as Colt McCoy trying to make a tackle after an interception. Cleveland will play host to Seattle in Week 7, followed by games at San Francisco, at Houston, St. Louis and Jacksonville at home, and at Cincinnati.

Give Hillis another chance, but in standard scoring leagues, his value is even more tenuous than in point-per-reception formats. At the very least, you can count on him to catch about four passes per week.

Since that's the best you can say about the Browns' bruising back at this point, it's not a stretch to think Hillis might be no better than a flex play in Weeks 13, 14 and 16 -- when the Browns play the Ravens twice and the Steelers once.

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