With Hardesty in the mix, Hillis' numbers could take plunge

Will Peyton Hillis lose value with Montratio Hardesty in the backfield?

What does Hillis have to do to make people believe?

He gained 2,624 all-purpose yards (the equivalent of the NFL's combined net yards) in college and set Arkansas receiving records for a running back, but still lasted until the 227th pick of the 2008 NFL Draft before the Broncos tabbed him. He led Denver in rushing as a rookie (albeit with a modest 343 yards), but still played little in 2009 before the Broncos traded him to the Browns in 2010. He began his first year in Cleveland as a fantasy afterthought, but still wound up rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns and finishing fourth among running backs in fantasy points.

In the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of the NFL, though, Hillis once again finds himself forced to make people believe -- at least fantasy owners who question whether he can repeat last year's success.

Hillis had 331 touches last season, a whopping figure for a player who had just 99 touches his first two years in the league. And by season's end, the workload started to show. After averaging 4.8 yards per carry the first half of the season, he managed only 3.9 yards per rush the second half of the year. Over the final two weeks, it was just 2.7 yards per carry. And after a three-touchdown outburst against the Panthers in Week 11, he didn't score again.

After the season, the Browns admitted to overworking their lead back in the absence of Hardesty, who was injured in the preseason. Now, with Hardesty back and (by Kickoff Weekend) more than one full calendar year removed from the knee injury that cost him his rookie year, Cleveland is readjusting its focus. The Browns have decided to let up on Hillis and have him and Hardesty share the workload.

How exactly that all shakes out is a mystery at this point, but for now it means Hillis' stock is falling and Hardesty's stock is rising.

Bottom line: Peyton Hillis loses considerable value with Montario Hardesty back in the picture in Cleveland.

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