Fantasy Football Analysis: T.Y. Hilton Overhyped?

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Now that I got your attention I'd like to take a closer look at the Colts second-year receiver T.Y. Hilton. A lot of fantasy owners and sites alike have been hyping Hilton's fantasy progression throughout the offseason. I've seen him go as high as a WR3, with his ADP as a seventh-round pick to prove it.

I'm not here to say he won't have any value and you picking him up was a waste of a pick. But after doing some fantasy research, I'm going to tell you why I think Hilton isn't going to live up to the expectations that many owners have put on him. Here are a couple reasons why:

New Offensive Coordinator, New Offensive Scheme

In 2012, then OC Bruce Arians had first-year Andrew Luck pass 627 times. The vertical scheme was up-and-running and worked as Luck had a tremendous first year, while Reggie Wayne looked like the Wayne of younger years. Hilton was also one of the beneficiaries as he completed his first year with 50 catches, an average of a little over 57 yards a game and 7 touchdowns. Not bad for a kid who went undrafted in a lot of leagues in 2012.

In 2013, it's out with the old and in with the new. Arians took his vertical attack to Arizona and now OC Pep Hamilton will be calling the offensive plays. Unlike Arians, Hamilton will run more two tight end sets with Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener. Much like the Patriots had done with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. He will also use a two wide receiver base formations for many of his plays. Wayne and Darrius Heyward-Bey will benefit, but where does that leave Hilton? Hilton will still get some value when the team uses three receivers, but he's not going to get as much playing time as he did last year when Arians used him as the No. 3 behind Wayne and Donnie Avery. There is still value there when Hilton is on the field, but it's going to be inconsistent.

And why is Heyward-Bey still the starter ahead of Hilton? That's reason No. 2.

Heyward-Bey Is A Much Better Blocker Downfield

Say what you want about DHB's lack of stardom as a Raider. But now that he's with the Colts, he is the No. 2 guy for one specific reason: his blocking abilities. Hilton comes in at 5'8, 183 pounds. DHB? 6'2, 210. That's a big size difference when Ahmad Bradshaw or one of the tight ends is looking for a block downfield. Hilton might be a speedy receiver with a lot of offensive upside, but he's just too small to block a corner or a safety. I don't see the Colts coming close to as many passing plays as they had last year. Bradshaw was signed for a reason. If they were, Vick Ballard would have been a feasible starter like he was last year.

The Outcome

I haven't drafted Hilton in any of my leagues so far. I certainly don't think, as of this writing, that he will be anything more than a flex option because he's not going to be on the field consistently every week. There was a time where I thought owners who did take Hilton made an excellent pick. Now? I'm not as sure as I was. The chances of him putting up week-to-week numbers are slimmer than many should expect because the playing time won't be there like it was in 2012. However, there is good news. The Colts Defense doesn't exactly scare anyone at the moment. So the offense could wind up having to go with three-receiver sets to play catch up. But if it came down to someone like Hilton or Bills WR Stevie Johnson, I'd feel comfortable going with Johnson because I know he will be on the field much more than Hilton will this year.

What are your thoughts? Am I too low on Hilton? Have I swayed you into rethinking his value for 2013?


  1. Josh L says

    Hilton’s year long numbers don’t tell the whole tale. He didn’t do much over the first 7 games, then in the last 9 he had 6 TDs and four games over 100 yards. Many guys (like myself) picked him up and were rewarded.

    That said, I’d say you have swayed my opinion. Offensive coordinator changes are important to role players like hilton, especially if it means they’re going to see the field less. I think the upside is that Hilton wins the battle with DHB, because catching passes does matter. But I’ll be inclined to wait an extra round of two before drafting him. And if he gets scooped up there are a ton of guys with equal upside at that point in the draft.

    • Greg Brosh says

      Hilton has much more upside, without a doubt. But what many owners don’t realize is that while upside is there, their value to their team is most important. Throwing a guy who is as small as Hilton on a rushing play and expecting him to block a player in the 210’s 220’s doesn’t cut it.

      I’m not saying don’t draft him, but I think many have over drafted him so far.

  2. Evan says

    Nice analysis, Greg! I was targeting T.Y. in early mock drafts, but his lack of playing time worries me, AND I was not aware they were using mostly two TE sets. Thanks.

  3. Clint says

    Great article Greg. Based on what I read on another site who interviewed one of the more popular Colts’ bloggers, it definitely appears Hilton is more risk than reward. The blogger mentioned the coordinator changes you did, the running game commitment you did, and also said they felt Hilton will not be targeted as much even when he’s on the field in those 3 WR sets as people think. He said Hilton will have a lot of 3-5 catch games he’ll do well with but it doesn’t appear as though the targets are going to be nearly what the preseason hype’s been leaning toward. I had my eye on him but I’m doing an about-face as well now.

    • Greg Brosh says

      Thanks for the kind words Clint. While I do think Hilton carries some value, I just don’t see it being week-to-week. My dad was so high on him that he took him as his WR3 behind Julio Jones and Andre Johnson. I think he’ll be one of those guys who get a big stat week because of his speed and the occasional long bomb, but he can’t be someone I can trust every week.

  4. Matt says

    All of these are good points but I still have him on a keeper team. When approaching big upside players I find the best approach is to get as many as you can and hope 1 or 2 hit. From a wr perspective on this team I have hilton, chris givens, andre roberts, josh gordon, and kendal wright. I need 1 to be good.

  5. J.Stinnett says

    You certainly have made me begin to rethink Hilton’s value this year.At the same time making me wonder about DHB. Could this be the year Heyward -Bey proves he does have fantasy worth ?

  6. says

    Great article Greg. You make a strong case for lowering Hilton’s pre-draft ranking. I think that many believe he is 2nd on the Indy WR depth chart, so he will continue to be drafted too early.

  7. Casey says

    Valid concerns about Hilton’s number of targets this year, but the bottom line is the kid’s got game and he’s got a hell of a QB throwing to him. If the preseason is any indication of the upcoming season, the Colts will find ways to get him involved.

    65-70 receptions probably his max, 1000 yards and 7-10 TDs very real possibility. Luck should throw close to 30 TD passes this year.

    • Greg Brosh says

      It’s not out of the question. With your numbers, he’d have to average 4 receptions, 63 receiving yards a game with sporadic touchdowns. My main concern is the guy isn’t going to be on the field as much as people think he is.

      Would you rather him or someone who is going to be an every-down starter. Make no mistake, the guy can do a lot with his limited time. But the fact that he is going to see more sideline time than playing time scares me.

  8. James says

    I don’t agree. T.Y. isn’t being overhyped I believe he is being ranked accordingly. Just because the OC has a style of running an offense with 2 TE doesn’t mean this guy won’t be putting up some decent stats for a WR3 which is what most people are ranking him or possible a WR3(2). The strength of Indy’s offense is Andrew Luck, I understand that this new OC likes to have a balanced attack but just because that’s what he likes to run doesn’t mean that’s what will happen. This OC would be the laughing stock of the NFL if he doesn’t let his star player PLAY. I see T.Y. getting near the same stats as last year 50rec/861yds/7td and that was on 90 targets this guy is going to get better. I see T.Y. getting 65/900/9

  9. Alex says

    I think DHB will have a big year, he is the 2nd WR in an Offense where Andrew Luck is throwing the ball, this from a WR who almost had 1000 yards 2 years ago in a miserable Oakland Offense, donĀ“t sleep on DHB he will be a gem in the later rounds