By Alex Kurpeski
For the first time in NFL history, a 30-year-old special teams gunner will be starting a game. Yes, I speak of Taysom Hill, cult hero and gadget player for the New Orleans Saints. With Hill set to start under-center for New Orleans in their battle with the Falcons on Sunday, many fantasy managers will be starting the former BYU standout on the strength of his matchup alone. But what exactly can we expect from a player who has only a handful of passing attempts in his career?
As we’ve seen in the past three seasons, New Orleans loves to move Hill all over the formation, lining him up under center, in the backfield, on the line of scrimmage, and splitting him out wide. He’s truly a jack of all trades. However, Hill’s track record as a passer is…spotty at best. Below are his college passing numbers at BYU, as well as his (brief) numbers at the pro level.
(Via Pro Football Reference)
Hill dealt with numerous injuries during his time with the Cougars, hence the reason why played only 6 games in 2014 and 2015 combined. BYU’s offense rarely asked Hill to throw the ball far, yet his completion rate tended to sit in the ’50s even with a lot of shorter throws in the game plan. We’ve seen little to suggest that Hill has improved his touch at the NFL level, as he’s completed only 55.6% of his attempts for 205 yards and an interception for the Saints. Given the sample size, I’m not willing to make any absolute statements about Hill as a passer. He’s a true wild card. I trust that the Saints won’t ask him to do anything too crazy — at least in his first career start.
Hill’s rushing ability is by far his biggest draw, as he accumulated 2,815 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on the ground during his college career. The Saints have used that aspect of Hill’s game well, as he’s averaged 5.5 YPC on 98 rushing attempts while being used mostly as a short-yardage rusher on option plays and draws. I expect New Orleans to deploy Hill in a similar manner on Sunday, mixing in a decent amount of option plays and misdirections in order to pound the ball with him and Alvin Kamara.
OK, I've watched enough film of Taysom Hill. Arm strength is pretty good! Accuracy, touch could be a little better. Mobility is a huge key for him. Still a streaming QB and must-start TE. https://t.co/M8EWQyUN8K
— #AskFFT (@daverichard) November 20, 2020
I’d look to the Ravens offense in 2018 as a beacon for what we can expect for Hill in this stint as the Saints starter. Lots of designed runs and short passes, combined with a few play-action passes, sticking to his strengths while cutting down on turnover worthy plays. Tight End eligible in ESPN leagues, Hill is a must-start in those lineups, while also sitting as a QB2 in Superflex formats.
Even if this experiment is a disaster it should be a fun disaster!