Around the NFL
Hillis-Hardesty tandem the plan in Cleveland
Posted Apr. 24 at 09:21 PM
Around this time last year the Browns selected Montario Hardesty with a second-round pick. That didn't work out as Hardesty tore his ACL in the preseason, but a year later, that selection should have them comfortable at running back in 2011.
In the Cleveland Plain-Dealer's draft preview, new coach Pat Shurmur says the team is confident that Hardesty "will make a total recovery," and be able to serve in a tandem with Hillis this season. That makes Hardesty an intriguing late-round flier in drafts, and Hillis a player fantasy coaches should be wary about selecting too soon.
Beat writer Tony Grossi believes that both players will work in the same backfield at times, with Hillis sometimes serving as a lead blocker (he began last season at fullback) and Hardesty the main ballcarrier. When Hillis is the ballcarrier, Hardesty can go out in pass patterns and contribute as a receiver.
I liked Hardesty a lot coming out last year, selecting him in a number of places including my dynasty league and the auction for the magazine. But it's difficult to be too optimistic about a guy who missed a month of the preseason with an injury, then tore his ACL during his first action in an exhibition game. It's not just that he's coming off a major injury; it's that he suffered that major injury on his seventh NFL carry.
Hardesty's expected return should cap expectations for Hillis this year, but despite his talent -- he looked very good on those seven pre-injury carries -- I don't imagine he'll find his way to very many of my teams this year. In my dynasty league I traded him to the Hillis owner, which might be a good idea for others in similar situations.
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