hillmanBy: Luke Grilli

We have hit early June and each team in the NFL has already held at least one session of OTAs (Organized Team Activities). OTAs gives coaches a chance to take their first look at the team’s free agent acquisitions, draft picks, unsigned draft picks and new wrinkles in their game plans. Of course, the media gets a hold of each players performance and the fantasy world eats up any positive or negative news.

DISCLAIMER: BEFORE YOU READ ANY FURTHER, KEEP THIS IN MIND…IT IS JUNE 5TH! What I mean by that is Dynasties are not born and Championships are not won, in early June. This info will give you an idea who to keep an eye, good or bad, on moving into the off season.

Stock Up
Ronnie Hillman
Ronnie Hillman is a guy I have had my eye on since my 2012 Rookie Drafts and I have continued to target him as we move along in the 2013 season. The 2nd year running back out of San Diego State was taking the first team reps at Denver’s OTAs last week, but that isn’t why I am excited about him in 2013 and on. Willis McGahee has a $2.5 million cap hit and Knowshon Moreno is still dealing with a bad knee. The Broncos spent a 2nd round pick on former All American Montee Ball and all signs point to him being the work horse in Denver. So, why do I like Ronnie Hillman? Montee Ball is going to get the carries, but Hillman will be in on most passing downs. At Wisconsin, Ball never had more that 24 catches in a season and was mainly used on running downs. While Hillman only maxed out at 24 catches at SDSU, his role was more along the lines of Ball’s in college. That will not be the case in Denver. Hillman will be a perfect change of pace back in the Denver offense.
In a Peyton Manning led offense, most downs are passing downs. Take a look at Edgerrin James and Joseph Addai. In their time with Manning, both saw plenty of passes come their way each game. I expect Hillman to be in on most 3rd downs and all hurry up situations. Dump offs will be aplenty and Hillman is a great cheap option in PPR leagues. I don’t think a 60 catch season is out of the realm of possibility if Hillman stays healthy.

Aaron Dobson
While Aaron Dobson has impressed some in Foxborough, it isn’t so much his play at OTAs that brings his stock up in my eyes. The fact that New England let Brandon Lloyd walk and have only brought in Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones via Free Agency, makes me think that Dobson is poised for success in New England. Danny Amendola should play the slot, so that leaves two outside WR spots open. Barring a Brandon Lloyd reunion or some unexpected trade for an outside wide out, I fully expect Dobson to grab one of those spots and contribute from Day 1. The turnover at WR has been rapid in New England, but I have to believe that Bill Bellichick is going to put the Patriots in a position to win now, and he feels Dobson can help them do that. If Dobson is starting from Week 1, a Mike Williams (TB) WR2/WR3 performance can be expected.

Montario Hardesty
The news out of Cleveland has been depressing (per usual) about stud Trent Richardson. While I’m not willing to stamp him as such yet, the term “injury prone” has been floated around here and there. The latest reports has Richardson sitting until August, in fear that he could develop a stress fracture. With T-Rich sitting, Montario Hardesty enters the picture as an interesting fantasy play. I’m not saying that Hardesty should be drafted anytime before the 15th round, but if you are a Richardson owner, grabbing Hardesty should be your #1 priority.
Hardesty has had a pretty well known injury bug himself. and cannot be relied on. However, Norv Turner has revamped the Cleveland offense and the RBs should be direct benefactors of that. I think that 2013 will be the year that Browns players are finally done being shunned in your fantasy draft. Whoever is starting at RB in Cleveland should be a PPR darling in 2013 and moving forward. If Hardesty is available, and/or you have Trent Richardson in the driver’s seat of your fantasy squad …what are you doing? Go pick up Hardesty!

Denard Robinson

Another very interesting rookie that seemed to have fallen to the perfect team. Let’s be real here. Jacksonville is a putrid offensive football team. Blaine Gabbert should not be a starting QB (he got out played by Chad Henne…yikes) in the NFL, MJD is busy punching people in the face and Justin Blackmon…well who knows what the hell he did do warrant a 4 game suspension. Jacksonville needs play makers and I think that is Denard Robinson can be that for them. I’m not sure what his role will be, but if they can get the ball in his hands 10-15 time a game, that could translate into flex numbers for your fantasy squad.

Stock Down
Delanie Walker
I love the idea of Delanie Walker getting the chance to start somewhere. He seemed to always make a big play every time I got the chance to catch a 49ers game. Unfortunately, a tweaked knee may have spoiled that idea. I’m not ready to write him off before he received an MRI, but an early injury + a new system + starting for the first time in your career, generally doesn’t end with success. I’m hoping that the injury is minor and Walker is able to put up TE1/TE2 numbers.

Keenan Allen

I was afraid that the Keenan Allen pick by San Diego would mean that 2012 Off Season Hype Man Vincent Brown would be an afterthought. Well, apparently Allen’s knee has not fully healed and he is sitting behind Danario Alexander, Malcolm Floyd and Brown on the depth chart. It is not to say that the guys in from of Allen are Iron Men themselves, but OTAs are an important time for rookies to get on the same page with veterans and get comfortable with the playbook. Any time that Keenan Allen misses will be a concern to me.

Isaiah Pead

And the hits keep on coming for Isaiah Pead. First, he can’t participate in 2012 OTAs because of a bogus college graduation rule and now he gets popped with a one game suspension after Steven Jackson leaves town. The good news is the suspension is only for one game, but the bad new is Pead may be back in Jeff Fisher’s dog house. In 2012, Pead only received 10 carries all season, as he was jumped by fellow rookie and 7th round pick Darryl Richardson for back up duty behind RB1 Steven Jackson.This year, I wouldn’t be surprised if both Ricahrdson and rookie Zac Stacy (maybe you’ve heard of him if you read this site) jump Pead for playing time, and never look back.

Pierre Garcon

Pierre Garcon injured…shocker! While it isn’t the shoulder issue that is hampering Garcon, the foot issue from 2012 apparently hasn’t healed completely and  recently flared up. Garcon is one of those players that I let come and go in Free Agency and Drafts without making a move. Do yourself a favor and let him be someone else’s headache. The talent is absolutely there, but the consistency is not.

Cordarrelle Patterson
Minnesota has come out and said that they will bring Cordarrelle Patterson along slowly and he will start off the year behind Jerome Simpson on the depth chart. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, but his stock still takes a hit. Some owners may bypass Patterson to grab a player who will produce in Week 1 (Tavon Austin, DeAndre Hopkins, Justin Hunter etc…) and if that is the case, make sure you find a way to move up for Patterson. I think that his rookie year may be a tough pill to swallow, but have patience and feel rewarded when he becomes a WR2 with WR1 potential in 2014.

Again, take these with a grain of salt. A LOT can happen between now and when Week 1 rolls around. Keep the conversation going by contacting me on Twitter or in the comments below.