Few people predicted that the Colts 2012 third round pick from Florida International would become fantasy relevant so quickly, but that's exactly what T.Y. Hilton did in his rookie year. The loss of Austin Collie after one game opened the door for another wide receiver to step up and rise to the occasion. Several receivers made attempts to fill the void, but Hilton was the one who stepped up his game en route to a 50 catch, seven touchdown season that resulted in a 25th ranking among fantasy wide receivers in standard non-PPR leagues.
Hilton is not a very physically imposing threat at 5'10" 183 pounds, but he has excellent quickness, especially after the catch. His initial burst and straight away speed makes him a deadly deep threat target for Andrew Luck. Hilton's average yardage on his seven touchdowns in 2012 was 38.8 yards. He finished the season with 17.2 yards per catch average and joined Julio Jones as the only rookie wide receivers since Randy Moss in 1998 to reach 50 receptions with over 17.0 yards per catch.
How does the new Colts offense affect Hilton?
Hilton thrived in Bruce Arians' down field attack style of offense that featured plenty of plays that stretched the field. The Colts were third in the league with 231 receptions to wide receivers in 2012. Only Denver and Green Bay had more. The 2013 season will feature more of a west coast offense engineered by new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, formerly the offensive coordinator at Stanford and play-caller for Andrew Luck. The west coast offense in Hamilton's sense will feature more short to intermediate throws that will improve Luck's completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio. The aim is to be an offense that will execute high percentage plays and move the ball effectively, minimizing turnovers and failed drives. That's not to say Luck and the Colts won't air it out from time to time, but the long throws and in Hilton's case, long receptions, should decrease in 2013. This points to a lesser yards per catch for Hilton, but the reception totals could very well increase from 50. At the worst, Hilton's floor should be 50 receptions in 2013. Keep in mind he didn't get going until week three last year, plus there is evidence that he dropped 12 catchable passes (most of which were over 10 yards).
Andrew Luck Factor
Perhaps the biggest attribute to T.Y. Hilton's game and his success as a fantasy threat, is the presence of Andrew Luck as his quarterback. In just one season Luck led the Colts to 11 wins and a playoff berth after the team managed just two wins the prior season. By all accounts, Luck was supposed to be a catalyst for a team that was looking to rebuild. Instead he engineered one of the league's best ever turnarounds. He made good players great and great players elite. The sky is the limit on what Luck can accomplish in the league. The good news is that T.Y. Hilton is along for the ride from the beginning.
Hilton has proven that he can be an asset to the team both as a slot receiver and at split end. This versatile aspect of his game is why many believe he will continue to break out in 2013. The Colts offensive changes will limit him as a deep threat, but that doesn't mean he won't be able to produce game in and game out. His explosive run after the catch abilities and elusiveness will garner plenty of targets in the Colts quick strike offense.
- He has the added benefit of playing with Andrew Luck, one of the best young quarterbacks to come into the league since John Elway.
- Hilton is more than just a deep threat. He should still thrive in Pep Hamilton's offensive strategy of short to intermediate passing. Outside of Reggie Wayne, Hilton should see the second most targets and receptions on the team.
- Despite finishing as the 25th best wide receiver last year, Hilton has a WR32 ADP in PPR leagues. He is generally not being overdrafted as a result, which increases his value in redraft leagues.
- The new Colts offense should still feature plenty of involvement for Hilton, possibly increasing his reception totals above 50. However, his 17.2 yards per catch average should drop into the 12-13 range, thus limiting his receiving yards.
- Five of Hilton's seven touchdowns were 30 yards or more last year. Four were 40 yards or more. He may have a few long scores in 2013, but if the deep passes subside, so should his touchdown numbers.
- Indianapolis has several receivers capable of making plays. Reggie Wayne may be in the twilight of his career, but he can still be an effective force and consistent fantasy threat. Wayne's presence will keep Hilton from being the team's go-to option, plus Darrius Heyward-Bey's arrival also means more than one receiver is capable of making plays down field. Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener also project to be a major focus points in the offense.
T.Y. Hilton has the skills, talent and mental edge to be a success in the league. He proved that last year in an offense that was perfect for his skill set. In order to maintain his place among the league's rising receivers, he will have to adjust his game in the new Colts offense. All indications point to him adjusting well and being a big part of the offensive game plan. Several knowledgeable experts and media analysts believe he will take another step forward this year. With Andrew Luck under center, that's a distinctive possibility. As the 32nd WR off the board in PPR drafts, Hilton is definitely a valuable option with a higher than expected ceiling with fairly low risk.
Jeff Haseley - 64 receptions, 877 yards, 5 Touchdowns
David Dodds - 63 receptions, 926 yards, 5 Touchdowns
Bob Henry - 55 receptions, 905 yards, 6 Touchdowns
Jason Woods - 64 receptions, 850 yards, 5 Touchdowns
Maurile Tramblay - 65 receptions, 983 yards, 6 Touchdowns
Jason Smith of NFL.com says - Hilton is one of the best late round WRs to target
Let everyone else fall in love with Reggie Wayne and take him way too early. You wait for Hilton, who will put up the same fantasy numbers as Wayne this season, possibly even more.He's the team's lone deep threat, and was the best WR on the team the last seven weeks of 2012 with three 100-yard games and 5 TD's. He got better as Wayne slowed down, and that's going to continue in 2013. Indianapolis' offense is just going to get better and Hilton's role is going to increase dramatically.When he'll give you great fantasy value: By Week 3 he'll be someone you'll want to start every week. Give the Colts a couple of games to see how the new pieces of their offense (Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ahmad Bradshaw) shake out, and by then Hilton will be the most valuable wideout.
Adam Rank of NFL.com calls Hilton, "The Real Deal"
T.Y. Hilton proved to be a fine option on the other side of Reggie Wayne as he had 861 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Verdict: Real Deal. He's going to have a great season for the Colts and will eventually pass Wayne as the top guy there. Maybe not there, but he'll produce enough points to be a solid No. 3 receiver.
Joe Owens of ProFootballFocus.com is not quite on board
The Colts sophomore has a bright future in the league, but he is likely to come back down to Earth this season. Hilton’s smaller stature and the addition of Heyward-Bey from the Raiders spell out a likely drop in numbers. Hilton’s saving grace will be in leagues that have the dual-threat scoring system for wide receivers who double as punt and kick returners. It is worth noting that Hilton possesses big-play ability as he led all rookies in yards after the catch with 386 and finished 11th overall among his fellow NFL pass catchers.
More from Jeff Haseley:
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Mock Draft: 12 Teams, Non-PPR Scoring - August 23
Mock Auction: 12 Teams, PPR Scoring, with full commentary - August 19