Let me tell you a story about identical brothers Chris Paul and Cliff Paul. After being separated at birth and following two distinctly different career paths, both men amazingly dedicated their lives to passing selflessness onto the next generation. On the basketball court, Chris Paul’s signature alley-oop (dee-doop) drew the attention of local basketball scouts. Meanwhile, off the court, Cliff Paul assisted neighborhood children by insuring their new tree house from his own State Farm branch. The moral of the story is that a little assist goes a long way.
Like Chris and Cliff Paul, Ronnie Hillman and Denard Robinson seem to be separated at birth. Like Chris and Cliff Paul, Hillman and Robinson are small, fast running who have thrived in starring roles as workhorse backs but continue to be unfairly perceived as mere change of pace specialists. Like Chris and Cliff Paul, Hillman and Robinson are dedicated to assisting — assisting fantasy owners desperate for running back production.
Ronnie Hillman stands 5-foot-10 and weighs 200-pounds. Denard Robinson stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 199-pounds. Ronnie runs a 4.45 40-yard dash. Denard runs a 4.43 40-yard dash. Ronnie’s PlayerProfiler Burst Score is 124.9 (79th percentile). Denard’s Burst Score is 123.6 (73rd percentile) . Ronnie’s 2014 yards per carry was 4.7. Denard’s 2014 yards per carry was 4.8.
Over the past two seasons, Ronnie Hillman and Denard Robinson have produced low-end fantasy RB1/high-end fantasy RB2 numbers when thrusted into primary running back roles for their respective offenses. Hillman averaged 20-PPR points per game during four-game stretch in which he was granted a 60-percent or more opportunity share in 2014. Hillman followed up a productive 2014 campaign by eclipsing 10-fantasy points per game in all but one week in which he has exceeded a 50-percent opportunity share while splitting RB touches with C.J. Anderson in 2015.
Denard Robinson averaged 15-PPR points per game during a six-game stretch in which he was granted a 60-percent or more opportunity share in 2014. Robinson’s production was propelled by a relatively efficient 4.3-yards per carry and 75-percent catch rate last season. In 2015, as a featured all-purpose weapon for a suddenly high octane Jaguars offense, Robinson has a 10-point floor and a tantalizing 30-point, volume-fueled ceiling in week 15.
PlayerProfiler.com features a Best Comparable Player feature, which factors in a size, workout metrics, and on-field productivity and efficiency. Perhaps surprisingly, most NFL players are relatively unique athletes and lack a closely comparable peer at their position. However, the similarities between Ronnie Hillman and Denard Robinson are striking. In fact, based on the PlayerProfiler comparison algorithm, no two NFL running backs are more identical than Hillman and Robinson.
As offensive coordinators move to an up-tempo schemes predicated on exploiting match-ups, faster, more versatile players are receiving more touches. Running backs like Ronnie Hillman and Denard Robinson are responding by reeling off 100-yard games and posting 4.5-plus yards per carry in the process. Speed wins at running back, and both Hillman and Robinson could help fantasy gamers win crucial fantasy playoff games this week.