As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each fantasy football season, you’ll always find some new/less familiar names near the top of the list. “Introducing” will be a series that features these lesser known players who are expected to begin the season in heavily featured roles for the very first time. Never shy away from players just because they’re yet to make a name for themselves … yet.

 

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Jeremy Hill — RB, Cincinnati Bengals

We’re getting to the point of this series where these may already look like big names to you given their price tags this season. Let’s not forget where Hill came from, though. This guy was the backup to Giovani Bernard last season, but won the job when Gio got hurt. Now it appears as though he’s going to maintain that role.

The Bengals backfield is a doozy. They have two very talented, very different RBs. Hill is the downfield runner that gets the goal line workload, while Bernard brings a shifty style along with receiving ability.

Hill was poaching TDs from Gio even as the backup early in 2014, but his official breakout game came in Week 9 against the Jags when he racked up 154 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries (and Bernard was on the sidelines). Hill went on to have four more 100-yard games (three of them 147+), including three straight to finish the season.

Oddly enough, Gio was healthy at the end of 2014, and relatively productive during those games as well. Take a look at how the duo finished the season.

Week 15:

Hill — 25 carries, 148 yards, two touchdowns, one catch, four yards.

Bernard — 15 carries, 79 yards, three catches, 24 yards.

Week 16:

Hill — 24 carries, 147 yards, one touchdown.

Bernard — eight carries, 36 yards, five catches, 45 yards, one touchdown.

Week 17:

Hill — 23 carries, 100 yards, two catches, 10 yards.

Bernard — three carries, eight yards, seven catches, 56 yards, one touchdown.

Obviously, Hill is the better back to own. But with how far he’s ranked ahead of Bernard, the two actually may be closer to equals than the current perception. Hill is the safer play, owning the starting job means more guaranteed work, but this pairing is almost a match made in heaven. However, that doesn’t mean Gio won’t be hungry for a larger role.

Bernard could make a great sleeper in 2015, even if Hill stays healthy all season (obviously he gets a huge bump in value for any game his counterpart were to miss — same goes for Hill). The only way Hill’s value could take a hit is … well, if Gio earns the job the same way Hill inherited it — through injury. That’s pretty unlikely to happen again, though.

Hill’s fantasy value is almost as safe as they come this season. Bernard will steal some frustrating touches here and there, and have some breakaway touchdowns. But Hill will consistently be getting the majority of the workload and all of the touches on the goal line.

Expect to see improvement on the 1,124 rushing yards he piled up as a rookie, while staying in the neighborhood of nine touchdowns. This is going to be an exciting backfield to keep up with no matter how it plays out, though.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow

Want to read more from the “Introducing” series? Find all the players covered below.

Carlos Hyde — RB, San Francisco 49ers

Brandin Cooks — WR, New Orleans Saints

Latavius Murray — RB, Oakland Raiders

Jordan Matthews — WR, Philadelphia Eagles

DeAndre Hopkins — WR, Houston Texans

Mike Evans — WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers