Hillis tweaks hamstring; Madden curse at work?

Hillis sits out with hamstring issue: This is how it starts. Cleveland Browns RB Peyton Hillis was removed from practice on Wednesday as a precaution due to a hamstring issue, coach Pat Shurmur said. But for superstitious fantasy owners, the latest “Madden” cover boy may as well have been standing under a ladder and juggling mirrors as a line of black cats paraded by.

Hillis is still the No. 1 running back in Cleveland and that doesn’t figure to change anytime soon. But with Montario Hardesty and Brandon Jackson waiting in the wings to scoop up any extra carries, there is plenty of reason to be concerned that Hillis won’t replicate his 2010 breakout success. Regardless, Hillis (the No. 14 running back on NFL.com’s projections) is still worthy of a being a No. 2 running back in fantasy leagues. Now that the Browns are handling him and his hamstring with tender loving care, you are forgiven if you want to handcuff him to a rabbit’s foot in your draft.

Maclin expects to return soon: Folks in Philadelphia can breathe a little easier now that WR Jeremy Maclin says he’s been cleared after a cancer scare. Maclin, the No. 17 receiver on NFL.com, told Jay Glazer that his final results for Lymphoma came back clean on Wednesday.

While he has yet to practice, Maclin still figures to be the starter opposite DeSean Jackson. Maclin’s status as a borderline No. 1 receiver means that fantasy owners can feel confident selecting him in the early rounds. Meanwhile, Jason Avant and the newly signed Steve Smith (who is still rehabbing a surgically-repaired knee) will have to settle with occasional targets in three- and four-receiver sets.

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