Don’t Sleep on T.Y. Hilton in 2016
If I were to tell you that a wide receiver who has accumulated over 1,000 yards receiving in three consecutive seasons was regularly available in the 3rd Round of redraft leagues, would you believe me? Fear not, there is no need to request a lie detector test, as I am speaking the truth. Perhaps even more important, this exact same wide receiver has seen a minimum of 130 targets in three straight seasons. The wide receiver that I am referring to is T.Y. Hilton, and he has indeed met or exceeded all of the accolades mentioned above since his sophomore campaign in 2013. In fact, Hilton was able to salvage a conceivably lost season in 2015 after the loss of Andrew Luck by posting the second highest target total of his career (134). Considering Hilton has remained such a consistent asset in fantasy football over the past three seasons, I find him to be a premium value in redraft formats this year. In order to solidify my stance on Hilton, I have constructed three arguments below, which support him being an undervalued commodity heading into 2016.
Since entering the NFL in 2012, T.Y. Hilton has only missed a total of two regular season games. Simply put, Hilton’s availability is an asset that should not be overlooked when assessing his value. It also helps that he is extremely talented, which is evident from his career production to this point. As a rookie in 2012, Hilton posted a 50-861-7 receiving line, in route to finishing as the WR31 in PPR formats. Since then, he has recorded season totals of 83-1086-5 and 82-1345-7 in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Over the span of both of those seasons, Hilton finished as the WR19 and WR11 in PPR scoring. Even after such consistent production, Hilton has been overly criticized for his 2015 campaign. As I indicated earlier, Hilton regressed in terms of overall production largely in part due to the absence of Andrew Luck. However, on paper, Hilton’s stats are relatively close to his career totals. For measurement purposes, consider that he amassed 69 receptions for 1,124 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2015. Despite enduring a slight dip in overall output, Hilton still managed to assert himself as the WR23 in PPR last season. To reiterate how valuable Hilton is with Andrew Luck under center, remember that he has finished as the WR31 (2012), WR19 (2013) and WR11 (2014) in PPR formats before last year.
In addition to being regularly undervalued, T.Y. Hilton’s target share also tends to be overlooked on an annual basis. Below, a table of his career targets can be seen:
As indicated above, Hilton has seen a steady influx of targets for nearly his entire career. Although target share is not a direct reflection of production, it is still promising to visualize that Hilton is a main catalyst on offense. According to ESPN, 28.5% of Hilton’s intended passes in 2015 were considered off target, whereas that rate was only 13.3% in 2014. As a result, it can be inferred that Hilton fell subject to poor quarterback play last season. In turn, this negatively impacted his ceiling. Nonetheless, Hilton has finished 17th (2013), 16th (2014) and 14th (2015) in targets among wide receivers over the course of the past three seasons. Overall, it is hard to be discouraged about Hilton’s involvement in the Indianapolis Colts passing attack, as he has consistently been one of the team’s primary weapons under the direction of Andrew Luck.
As I alluded to in the beginning of this article, T.Y. Hilton’s ADP currently stands at 3.04 in 12-team PPR leagues. At his present value, Hilton is being selected after players like Jarvis Landry, Eddie Lacy and Julian Edelman. Despite accumulating 111 receptions in 2015, Jarvis Landry is a prime regression candidate with the inevitable emergence of DeVante Parker in Adam Gase’s offense. Eddie Lacy resides as a considerable risk heading into 2016, as he battled weight problems for most of last season, in addition to being wildly inefficient. Finally, Julian Edelman is recovering from his second foot surgery since the beginning of 2015, and will likely be without Tom Brady for nearly a quarter of the fantasy season due to a four-game suspension. As a result, T.Y. Hilton is arguably the safest investment at his current ADP in comparison to those surrounding him in the 3rd Round of drafts. It also helps that 84 targets are now up for grabs after the departure of Coby Fleener to the New Orleans Saints. Since it is entirely possible that Hilton reaches elite production in 2016 with the return of Andrew Luck, I am willing to invest in him as a dependable wide receiver near the end of the 2nd Round. At that kind of evaluation, Hilton would need to return WR1 numbers this season. Considering he was able to accomplish that exact task in 2014, it is reasonable to anticipate that a career season could be on the horizon for the fifth-year pro.
One of the more popular breakout candidates among wide receivers entering 2016 happens to be T.Y. Hilton’s teammate, Donte Moncrief. In fact, virtually all offseason attention has been directed to Moncrief, which has contributed to Hilton being overlooked. Although Moncrief’s ADP is expected to rise from 5.11 as the regular season inches closer, it will be difficult for him to surpass Hilton in terms of overall volume. I do expect Moncrief to improve on his 2015 receiving line of 64-733-6 on 105 targets, but his presence does not necessarily guarantee that Hilton will see fewer looks on offense. Consider that during Andrew Luck’s seven active games in 2015, T.Y. Hilton collected 31 receptions for 548 yards and 3 touchdowns on 65 targets. On the other hand, Donte Moncrief caught 32 balls for 351 yards and 5 touchdowns on 54 targets. Albeit a small sample size, Hilton manufactured more yards and targets than Moncrief, but accrued one less reception and scored two fewer touchdowns. After Andrew Luck was sidelined for the duration of the regular season (Weeks 11-17), Moncrief only proceeded to catch 25 passes for 304 yards and one touchdown. Evidently, Moncrief’s value was solely contingent upon Andrew Luck, whereas Hilton was able to remain a stable fantasy asset, in route to finishing as the WR23 in PPR amidst poor quarterback play. Overall, I believe that both Hilton and Moncrief can coexist in Indianapolis due to the team’s heavy passing attack, which ranked 9th in total passing attempts last year in the NFL. However, based on his career production, current ADP and a positive 2016 outlook, Hilton arguably remains the safer investment for fantasy purposes.