T.Y. Hilton enters the 2016 season coming off of a down year. After finishing the 2014 season as a top 10 fantasy wide receiver, the pass catcher let down many fantasy players in 2015. He was being drafted as the eighth wide receiver in drafts prior to the start of last season.
He ended the year with just 69 receptions, 1,124 yards and a disappointing five touchdowns. The dip in production saw Hilton finish as just the 22nd fantasy producer at the position last season.
But a new year brings new opportunity for Hilton. The wide receiver should return to top 10 fantasy status in 2016. The biggest reason for his disappointment last season was the loss of his starting quarterback. 47% of his passing targets in 2015 came from Matt Hasselbeck, who is far from Andrew Luck.
The Colts’ Andrew Luck missed the final nine games of the 2015 season and Hilton suffered because of it. In the first seven games of the season, with Luck under center, Hilton averaged 9.3 targets per games, 4.4 receptions per game and 78.3 yards per game. These numbers were very similar to the numbers that he put up in 2014. In his top-10 fantasy season, he averaged 8.7 targets per game, 5.7 catches and 89.6 yards per game. In the seven games that Luck played in 2015, Hilton owned a 31/548/3 line with 65 passes thrown his way.
With the Colts’ star quarterback on the sideline with a lacerated kidney and abdominal tear, Hilton couldn’t match his production that he had with Luck. Over the course of the last nine games of the 2015 season, he averaged 7.7 targets, 4.2 receptions and 64 yards per game. In the nine games without Luck he posted a 38/576/2 state line on 69 targets.
With Luck’s health back to 100% for the 2016 season, Hilton should rebound nicely. The wide receiver is a big play guy that likes to stretch the field. In both 2014 and 2015, he averaged 16 yards per reception. But without Luck throwing him the ball, he wasn’t able to get his hands on the ball enough to be the explosive playmaker that he is.
In 2014 Hilton had six 100 yard games. He was limited to just two such performances in 2015. Luck’s return to the field should help Hilton return to his big game ways. Prior to Luck getting injured last season, HIlton was averaging 17.7 yards catch.
Another factor working in Hilton’s favor is the lack of a running game for the offense. Once again this season the Colts will start Frank Gore at running back. The aging ball carrier rushed for just 3.7 yards per carry in 2015. The lack of production on the ground should once again lead to plenty of passing attempts by Luck. In the quarterback’s four seasons in the NFL, the Colts have thrown the ball on 61.7% of their offensive plays.
Even after a disappointing 2015 season, Hilton is still being drafted as the 14th wide receiver in drafts. So it appears that many are chalking his poor season up to the loss of Luck as well. But even so there is still value in his draft location. Hilton can be had in the third round of most fantasy drafts with a current ADP of 28.34. The ability to add a WR1 this juncture of the draft, especially with at least five wide receivers going in the first round, is a steal.