Inconsistency – that’s all I’ve been hearing heading into 2016 about T.Y. Hilton. I’ve heard it all: boom-or-bust, numbers tied to Luck, blah, blah, blah. Since when has finishing three seasons in a row with over 130 targets and 1,000 yards been inconsistent? I don’t get it. Here’s what this comes down to: I’ve seen T.Y. be a WR1 before. I have not seen this from Donte Moncrief. It would be ignorant to say it can’t happen. Sure, it could. But Hilton is just a downright dynamic receiver and Luck’s number one target. The Colts offense is currently under construction. The offensive line will have rookie starters. Coby Fleener is now in New Orleans. Rob Chudzinski is in his first full year as the Colts offensive coordinator. Yet one thing will remain certain – Hilton will be the number one receiver in a Luck-led offense.
Rapport with Andrew Luck
I have said it before, and I will continue to say it going forward – I like receivers who have a rapport with their quarterback. Hilton is Andrew Luck’s guy and Luck likes to target him deep. Take a look at passes thrown for over 20 yards from Luck to Hilton:
2015 – 10 of 20 (50%, 2 of his 5 touchdowns)
2014 – 17 of 48 (35%, 5 of his 7 touchdowns)
2013 – 12 of 24 (50%, 3 of his 5 touchdowns)
Look at these numbers how you will, but this is why I’m intrigued by Hilton’s potential. Luck clearly likes targeting his speedy receiver deep and to me that screams fantasy upside. His 4.39 speed makes Hilton more than capable to separate from his defenders and helps you to win weeks in fantasy. Hilton complained last year numerous times that offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was “too conservative” and didn’t call plays to get their guys out in space. That’s because Matt “noodle-arm” Hasselbeck was under center half of the year. When Luck is healthy he likes to throw bombs down the field to Hilton. Sign me up.
The 2015 Facade
One main fallacy of 2015 was that T.Y. suffered because Luck only played in seven games and he had to play under Hasselbeck. Actually, the numbers show us that his numbers were eerily similar whether the quarterback was Luck (31-548-3 with 65 targets) or not (38-576-2). It’s also important to remember last season that T.Y. Hilton battled the injury report week-in and week-out with foot and knee injuries. It made it impossible to know when to start him some weeks. I really don’t think many people take this into account when projecting Hilton’s numbers for 2016. He seems to be close to full health now (despite the minor hamstring setback in preseason week 2) and if so I’ll be doing the “T-Y” YMCA dance when he racks up points for my fantasy teams.
Chase the Yards
It is nice that in seven games last year with Luck, Moncrief caught five touchdowns. Pretty impressive. What I say to that is I like chasing yards more than touchdowns. T.Y. has been a yardage monster in his four-year career. Heck, he finished 1,124 yards in an “off-year” last season and that was good enough for WR15. Hilton has had over 1,000 yards and over 130 targets now for three straight years. 2013 is the only year where Hilton didn’t average more than 16 yards per reception. Is that enough consistency for ya?
The ADP’s for these receivers are two rounds apart right now which leads people to believe Moncrief is the better value. Don’t fall into the trap. Luck has numerous weapons around him with Dwayne Allen, Phillip Dorsett, and Frank Gore, in addition to Hilton and Moncrief. When there are numerous mouths to feed, go with a guy that’ll move the chains and who doesn’t need the redzone targets because he’s usually scoring the ball from 20+ yards out. Why not lock up a WR1 in the third round in a competitive offense who’s shown he can still finish with solid numbers even without Luck? Even with a “boom” or “bust” moniker Hilton still found a way in 2014 with a healthy Luck to finish the year as WR10. That’s what I’m banking on seeing again in 2016.
(Kevin Steele @FantasyWrath13)
Prior to the 2015 season, the Indianapolis Colts brought in Andre Johnson and drafted Phillip Dorsett. The fantasy community was certainly aware of Donte Moncrief and some believed he was primed for a breakout, but Andre Johnson and Dorsett halted the love. If that wasn’t enough, Moncrief also had to fight for targets with Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. There were simply too many mouths to feed, and not enough targets.
Things look a bit different for the Colts in 2016. Gone are Andre Johnson and Coby Fleener who accounted for 157 targets. Andrew Luck is back to being healthy. As well as, Hilton and Moncrief appear to be in a position to soak up a tremendous amount of targets. The goal for me is to justify taking Donte Moncrief over TY Hilton. That’s going to be a tough one considering the consistent play of Hilton the last three seasons, but I’m up for the challenge.
Target Share and Volume:
When you begin to look at his 2015 numbers one thing that stands out is his chemistry with Andrew Luck. He only played in seven games last season, but during those games, Donte Moncrief was WR22 in standard scoring with 32 receptions on 51 targets for 351 yards and five touchdowns. He accounted for a target share of 28% which was just behind that of teammate T.Y. Hilton who received 33% of the team targets. He also received the 3rd-most RZ targets (13.5%) behind only Andre Johnson (FA), and TY Hilton.
As mentioned above, a total of 63.9% of the target share and 55% of the red zone targets will be returning in 2016. Last season in the seven games played by Luck, he threw an astounding 41.9 passes per game, but to be fair, that’s not a huge discrepancy compared to the 38.5 he threw in 2014. That kind of volume and the lack of weapons should allow Moncrief to see an even higher target share compared to the 28% he received during the seven-game stretch with Andrew Luck to go along with 13.5% of the RZ targets.
Ryan mentions above the rapport TY Hilton has with Andrew Luck and that is a fact. However, lets not pretend that Donte Moncrief should play second fiddle to his teammate. Once you start looking at the numbers you see that Moncrief actually was slightly favored over Hilton. Moncrief averaged 4.57 receptions and .71 touchdowns per game that compared to Hilton who received 4.43 receptions and .43 touchdowns per game.
Andrew Luck will have two fewer options in his arsenal. Which will lend itself to far more opportunities for the talented duo. There is no denying, Hilton and his big play ability. He’s averaged over 16 yards per reception damn near every year since 2013, but he’s never going to be a guy who scores a bunch of touchdowns. That’s where Moncrief enters the picture. Moncrief has the size (6’2 and 223 pounds) to be a legitimate beast inside the red zone. Dwayne Allen surely will see an increased target share and will be a legitimate threat to Moncrief every play inside the red zone. However, it should be mentioned that Moncrief led the team in receptions and touchdowns inside the red zone.
I would expect a sizeable increase in receptions, yards, and touchdowns for the talented third-year receiver. His value should easily eclipse his current ADP, which will make him one of the bigger steals of 2016.
Currently, on FantasyPros ADP, Hilton is coming off the board in the third round at WR16. Donte Moncrief is currently being drafted in the 6th round or WR31. Hilton is certainly an explosive wide receiver and has made the most of his opportunities during his time with Andrew Luck. However, at a full three rounds later you can get a player who should see similar targets and more touchdowns than that of Hilton. If I’m ever in a situation in fantasy football and I have to decide between two players who have a similar ceiling than I will always choose the cheaper one and in this case Moncrief is still at a bargain compared to how massive his upside is in 2016.
If I was going to project the production from each I would put them somewhere in the range of :
TY Hilton – 70 receptions, 1300 yards, and 6 TDs.
Donte Moncrief – 85 receptions, 1000 yards, and 11 TDs.
So, Ryan, you can keep your few hundred yards more from Hilton and I’ll take the double-digit touchdowns from Moncrief every damn day of the week.
Listen, I’m in no way saying that Hilton will be a bust this season. I like him, he continues to be one of the more consistent fantasy options and in the third round, he makes for a solid WR2 or 3 depending on roster construction. The issue I have is simply cost vs ROI. I will take the cheaper option that can produce just as high, if not more, fantasy points. So, do yourself a favor. Pass on Hilton, despite how talented he is and invest in the cheaper option who has the same opportunities as the higher priced option.