As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each season and week of DFS, different factors are always going to change the landscape. “Next Man Up” is a series that examines players who are now being propelled into the starting role (thus creating a larger opportunity for that player), whether it be via injury, suspension or simply a change to the depth chart.
Shaun Hill — QB, Minnesota Vikings
We knew it was going to be ugly as soon as the reports started leaking out of Minnesota. Teddy Bridgewater had suffered a gruesome non-contact knee injury. But now we have confirmation — it’s a completely torn ACL and dislocated knee that will cost him the season.
It’s obviously horrible news for an up-and-coming NFC team hopeful of competing with the likes of the Packers and Seahawks for a Super Bowl birth. If there’s any silver lining, it appears that Bridgewater avoided any serious structural damage/career threatening damage.
He should be ready to bounce back next season, but 2017 is a long time away. One of the best teams in the NFL is now in the hands of Shaun Hill.
There are a lot worse options out there than Hill when it comes to backup QB’s. The journeyman has a career record of 16-18, and has been at least serviceable when forced into the starting role on some bad teams.
Here’s a look at what Hill has done in the past when starting at least eight games in a season:
2008 49ers: 9 games, completed 62.8% of passes, 227.3 yards per game, 7.1 yards per attempt, 13 touchdowns/8 interceptions. Hill also rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, Hill took a 2-6 team and went 5-3 as the starter in the final eight games (and 5-3 in another eight starts over 2007/2009).
2010 Lions: 11 games, completed 61.8% of passes, 244.2 yards per game, 6.5 yards per attempt, 16 touchdowns/12 interceptions. Although Hill only went 3-7 in the 10 scattered starts he filled in for Matthew Stafford, he did it with an atrocious Lions’ roster.
2014 Rams: 9 games, completed 63.3% of passes, 184.1 yards per game, 7.2 yards per attempt, 8 touchdowns/7 interceptions. Hill finished with a 3-5 record as the starter — the same record Sam Bradford was able to achieve in his eight starts.
So what’s the point in looking back on all the average play over Hill’s career? Well, he’s actually been pretty solid, and in some cases a better option than the starter.
In San Francisco Hill proved to be a much better option than Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer, actually going 10-6 over a full season’s worth of games from 2007-2009. In Detroit he was outplayed by Stafford, but that’s a former No. 1 overall pick that’s expected to carry his team. And let’s face it … those were some pretty dark days for the Lions back then. Finally, in St. Louis Hill went toe-to-toe with another former No. 1 overall pick in Bradford and got the same exact results over a half season of work.
I am absolutely not saying Hill is better than Bridgewater. But I am suggesting the Vikings are very fortunate to have one of the best backup quarterbacks in the league.
The Super Bowl dreams go out the window without Teddy, but it’s definitely possible Hill can help this team get back to the playoffs. This will unquestionably be the most talented roster that Hill will have around him.
But what does this mean in the world of fantasy football? Not that much actually.
Adam Levitan gave his fallout here, and for the most part he and I are on the same page.
Let’s start by getting this out of the way — the loss of Bridgewater doesn’t mean Minnesota will be feeding AP the rock anymore than usual. His value remains the same as it was at best. If anything, defenses will be paying more attention to AP and letting Hill try and beat them. If anything were to happen to Peterson, Jerick McKinnon could make a really nice check down option for Hill on a consistent basis.
The passing game is where things actually get interesting. It’s unlikely Hill is going to be a good fantasy option this season, but did we really expect Bridgewater to light the fantasy scene on fire? Not exactly.
The WR core may not accumulate its stats in the same fashion, but the volume should be there on a week-to-week basis. Guys like Charles Johnson, Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell (once/if he’s more involved) should be able to reach the same numbers they were projected with Bridgewater at the helm — even if more of it comes in desperation time with Hill trying to throw Minnesota back into the game.
The bottom line — this is a horrible injury for the Vikings growth as a franchise, but the effects on the 2016 fantasy football season will be minimal.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.