Dontrell Hilliard Waiver Wire Week 12: Fantasy outlook for Titans RB

After an outing that earned him a promotion from the practice squad, should fantasy managers place a waiver wire claim on Dontrell Hilliard?

When Thanksgiving rolls around, you know we are in the home stretch of the fantasy football season. Thus, there is little time remaining for fantasy managers to make impactful additions to their team through the waiver wire. As the Tennessee Titans continue to rotate running backs, Dontrell Hilliard has entered the conversation as a player fantasy managers need to keep an eye on following his recent performance. Did this simply further complicate the backfield, or should fantasy managers place a waiver wire claim on Hilliard as he could bring the highest upside in Week 12 and beyond?

Dontrell Hilliard sees a significant workload after a promotion from the practice squad

Most of the time, when a player is added to the 53-man roster off the practice squad, it’s traditionally for depth. An injury took place, and they were brought in as an emergency option. Rarely do you see what happened with Hilliard, who was quick to make an impact. He rushed 7 times for 35 yards in Week 11 against the Houston Texans, but his receiving work is the most impressive aspect. He led the Titans in targets (10) and receptions (8), generating 47 yards.

Tennessee elevated Hilliard from the practice squad and placed him on the active roster for the first time since Week 8. Hilliard led the backfield in snaps by a wide margin, playing on 62.6% of the snaps compared to Adrian Peterson and D’Onta Foreman’s 18.5% apiece. Hilliard also paced Titans RBs in routes run at 37, with Peterson and Foreman combining for 11.

Hilliard’s Week 11 performance has earned him a spot on the Week 12 roster

In a clear act of confidence in the fourth-year RB, the Titans signed Hilliard to their active roster from the practice squad, according to his agent David Canter of GSE Worldwide

Hilliard went undrafted out of Tulane and signed with Cleveland in 2018, where he spent his first two and a half years before being released in 2020. The Texans then picked Hilliard up, activated him for two games, then released him in the offseason.

But now, it appears there is a clear path for Hilliard in Tennessee. According to NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo, the Titans released Peterson on Tuesday. Tennessee had previously signed Peterson in the wake of Derrick Henry’s injury.

Hilliard now appears to be the clear passing-down back. Furthermore, he could become the lead RB over Foreman should he continue to succeed as he did last week. 

Hilliard is a worthwhile addition off the Week 12 waiver wire 

When I look back at Hilliard’s Week 11 performance, it bears a striking resemblance to Week 4. Julio Jones and A.J. Brown were both out, and rather than loading the WRs with work, RB Jeremy McNichols led the team with 12 targets.

What happened last week? Jones was out, Brown was banged up with a rib injury, and rather than using Chester Rogers and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine as the focal points, Ryan Tannehill and Mike Vrabel turned to an RB (Hilliard).

Through Peterson’s release and Hilliard’s addition, the Titans’ backfield, in my opinion, just became better. That’s no disrespect to Peterson, but he is not the RB he used to be. When called on this year, he looked unexplosive and made fantasy managers want to stay away from this backfield.

With Hilliard, things change. He showed his chops as a receiving back and should carry value moving forward in PPR formats. However, we do have to see what happens once McNichols clears concussion protocol. There is a chance both RBs steal from each other. But until we have game film to evaluate and extrapolate from, Hilliard is worth adding off the waiver wire as a possible flex play in PPR leagues.

Tommy Garrett is a Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can read all of Tommy’s work here, listen to him on PFN’s Fantasy Football podcast, and check out his contributions in PFN’s free fantasy newsletter. Give him a follow on Twitter: @TommyGarrettPFN.