In the old days when Running Backs were labeled hammers, you had players like Jerome Bettis, Deuce McAllister or Brandon Jacobs hitting home that almost driven-in nail from the play calling toolbox; that semi pegged, one last push was a setup near the end zone by the shifty, lightening-prancing, often smaller—RB 1. The new NFL has given way to “fewer ”RB Hammers on the whole, or mammoth pounders of the rock—when inside the 20 yard line threatening opposing defensive fronts.
Obviously the discussion of which hammer ranks where on what expert rankings list, most of the time the best Big Goal line backs in the NFL varied on what zip code you happened to live in. For some people, maybe Christen Okoye comes to mind; for others, its always going to be refrigerator Perry. The reason I love the Hammer Running Back in Fantasy Football is when your starting RB1 and RB2 have already over-achieved their fantasy points projected for the week; and by this time, your opponent still has to fear one more RB threat waiting in the bull-pen (so-to-speak). This is where your dreaded RB-3—that fierce barbarian, the “Closer” if you will; charged and ready to rack up all the 1st down tries and goal-line attempts from the 5-yard line. I love nothing more than my RB hammer waltzing his way onto the “Chem-Grass” or modern day term (Astro-Turf) raising his hand as he approaches the team huddle, letting his teammates understand he's going to stuff the pigskin across the plane—reaching pay-dirt before you crack open another beer.
The hammer position is a weird position. Most Fantasy Football owners will agree, and know these freaks only due to past matchup style defeats—when just like the basketball coach who said to the reporter after the game in the final minutes of the 4th period, “Gosh, we had them the entire 2nd half…it was our game to win, until our opponent suddenly took over.” It doesn’t really matter if your RB-3 starts off slow in most Fantasy matchup contests, what matters most is what runner gets fed the rock more often that his RB-1 in critical scoring situations, and in turn—finishes the Mortal Combat video game challenger in dramatic, often brutal fashion.
Inside the 20-yard line, a place where most defenses are ready to cave in from exhaustion, is typically where your hammer makes his money—the quick scat back or RB1 is pulled towards the sideline on 1st or 2nd down, making way for a obvious blast right, heavy run, “Dive” play up the middle. You gesture toward your television set in anticipation, as your coveted Cow Bell jogs into the huddle, it’s blatant what’s coming next as your stud RB-3 completes the “Six-Sigma Touchdown Dance”, no sooner than your girl-friend making the comment, “Why do they always run it up the middle?”
Before analyzing past RB hammers, let’s answer this question, “What round in a FF draft do you examine a large beastly running back? You know, the studs that only get the pill in tight-yardage situations? While there are many different opinion’s on this, I tend to look back in history when the Tennessee Titans entrusted LenDale White as their “go-to-guy”, gobbling up 15 TDs and posting 773 yards circa 2008. What’s unbelievable was the fact that CJ2k back then accounted for 251 carries, while racking up 1,228 yards on the season—oh and nine “Tugs” or Touchdowns as well.
Yeah—Tennessee had it made, a textbook lightening and thunder combination for their running back corps, while other NFL teams merely just had one RB stud to lean upon. The importance of a hammer like LenDale White for Fantasy owners meant that he or she only had to figure out which standard starting two RBs to start in their FF line-ups that week, because by the end of the year, LenDale received a whopping 200 carries! Talk about an insane RB-3 people, he was a TD vulture that wreaked havoc late in games for opposing FF owners—just then, the hammer concept quickly took shape.
Numbers and stats for fantasy owners most often get cluttered in the thicket of data gathering, preseason research, and lack of organization. The most important take away here is that we are about to see the dawn of the next big back, a power runner who will become this era’s definitive backfield hammer. I’ve already mentioned that these animals have a Batman and Robin style of sidekick—right? So without further adieu: Introducing Jeremy Hill rookie Running Back from (LSU). With 2,156 yards and 28 Touchdowns, Hill is primed to be the MAN in Cincy this year.
What about Gio you angrily ask? Isn’t this going to be his season? All the information and data points to him...Right? Despite the fact that many Fantasy pundits have Jeremy Hill going in the late 9th or 10 round, I’m here to tell you—we’re gonna regret this year facing such an opposition as a wrecking-ball dynamism, coupled with 238 lbs. of TD smash power—with the likes Fantasy owners haven’t seen in over 6 years. If you’re contemplating whether drafting a quick, productive, incredibly well-sized rookie specimen—who looks like a boulder rolling down a “Hill”, no pun intended—then you are on the right track. Never mind the notion that drafting young Runners might be too much of a risk.
Come the 4th QRT of a ball game, when Jeremy Hill has seven fantasy points on the day, he suddenly punches in two more goal-line scores, stealing the “Lightning’s Thunder” for a fleeting moment from Gio—who isn’t clear why he’s only got nine Fantasy points on the afternoon, and puzzled why he’s yet fulfilled his Touchdown dance for his fans in darn near three weeks time. It’s not long before you realize you should’a drafted Jeremy Hill sooner than your buddies in the draft, and this soon-to-be, “King of Hill” runner in Fantasy—suddenly emerges for the Bengals, yes even winning the case over the famous, “Law Firm” Green-Ellis.
My advise is simple; if you’re choosing to carry a Hammer in your toolbox this year, let alone platooning your bench for future matchups, you’re gonna have an excellent chance at securing the Bengals go-to-goal line-back this season. Hill is to be targeted in your draft, and contains big upside from a value standpoint. His talent is huge people, and bet your bottom dollar Jeremy Hill will be the man in 2014. As for his shoulder—It’s merely a scratch on a race-car. Hammers come in all shapes and sizes, but I know a good one when I see one.
I’m sure LenDale White is somewhere in the country secretly plotting where to take Jeremy Hill in the 7th round of his friends and family league right now as you’re reading this.
By Jonathan Bauman