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T.Y. Hilton Is a Buy Despite Andrew Luck’s Retirement: Fantasy Football Multiverse

After watching Avengers: Endgame, I couldn’t stop thinking about the multiverse. Then my mind drifted to the Projection Machine, which acts as a fantasy football time machine. Every little tweak in the timeline of fantasy football can have a wide range of repercussions that echo across the league. So, in this series, I’ll dial up that Projection Machine to examine players who could experience big swings in fantasy value if certain things break the right way. 

Frank Reich’s Tenure

With the stunning announcement of Andrew Luck’s retirement, people are in scramble mode trying to figure out what to do with this Colts offense. There are plenty of moving pieces in trying to sort this out. Let’s start with what Frank Reich’s head coaching debut looked like from an offensive philosophy standpoint last season. The Colts were pass-heavy with a 61-39 pass-run split in 2018. They were reasonably fast-paced at over five plays per game above league average. 

In 2017, the Colts were without Luck. After a brutal start by Scott Tolzien in Week 1, then-coach Chuck Pagano inserted Jacoby Brissett and he started every game the rest of the way. It wasn’t a total disaster, but Brissett’s time as a starter left a bit to be desired. He finished as the QB24 in 2017, and his per game scoring would have placed him around QB30 last year.

What Will Probably Happen…

I’d take the under if someone set the line for Colts passing percentage at 61% like it was in 2018. Since 2013, teams with a 6.5 Vegas win total1 have averaged a 55-45 pass-run split and 975 total plays. 

Right away, we have to ding all of the pass catchers for Indianapolis a bit just based on volume. They threw the ball over 640 times last season, and I don’t see a realistic situation where they break 575 this year. If we take a look at raw targets for T.Y. Hilton on a 20% market share, that’s a loss of 20 targets from what we expected before Luck’s retirement. The returns on the Brissett-Hilton connection were underwhelming.

If we assume similar efficiency to the last time we saw a full season of this connection, we would be penciling in Hilton for about 185 PPR points. That would’ve been good for WR25 last season. There haven’t been enough drafts to see where Hilton’s ADP bottoms out, but on name value alone I don’t see him slipping down into the fifth round.2 

What Could Happen…

It’s a bit unfair to assume that Brissett hasn’t made any strides over the past year. The situation for him wasn’t optimal in 2017. On September 1st of that year, Brissett was a Patriot. On September 17th, he was the QB1 for the Colts. A full season working behind Luck in Reich’s system is a plus. So let’s say that he locks in on Hilton a bit and give him a small efficiency bump, where does he end up? 

Just an extra target per game combined with slightly better catch and TD rates than his floor projection puts him back in the high end of the WR2 conversation. The 227 points we have for Hilton would’ve been good for WR16 last season. Where will Hilton’s ADP settle?

In the two FFPC drafts that went off today, Hilton went off the board at 40th and 44th overall (WR14). In the 38 Fanball drafts, Hilton went anywhere from the 24th to the 64th pick. With a discount likely coming our way, I’m going to be targeting Hilton in drafts. Starting off WR-heavy and ending up with him as your WR3 looks like it could be very profitable, even without Luck. 

Image Credit: Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: T.Y. Hilton.

  1. The Colts projection after Luck’s retirement.  (back)
  2. That would put him in the Calvin Ridley, Cooper Kupp, D.J. Moore range.  (back)

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