Fantasy Football: T.Y. Hilton Is a First-Round Talent in PPR Leagues

The Indianapolis Colts speedster finished last season as fantasy's fourth-best wide receiver, so why isn't he being drafted higher?

The fantasy football industry knows that T.Y. Hilton is really, really good.

But he might even be better than that.

Since entering the league as a third-round pick in 2012, the speedy Indianapolis Colts wide receiver's end-of-season PPR ranking has exceeded the expectations of his average draft position (ADP) in four of five seasons, failing to do so only in 2015, when his quarterback, Andrew Luck, played just seven games.

In 2017, Hilton is still being underestimated. According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Hilton is being drafted as the eighth wideout in PPR formats and is going, on average, with the fifth pick in the second round of 12-team drafts. That's too late for a player of his fantasy goodness.

Reaching the Peak

For the first time in his career, Hilton finished among the top-five wideouts in PPR scoring last season. The four players he finished behind? Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham. We certainly have to keep in mind that Julio Jones and A.J. Green dealt with injuries in 2016.

In a blind comparison of raw numbers, tell me who you want from the three receivers below -- Player A, B, or C?

2016 Targets Receptions Yards Touchdowns
Player A 154 106 1,284 12
Player B 155 91 1,448 6
Player C 169 101 1,367 10

As a fantasy football owner, you'd probably want Player A, and everyone would agree that you made the right choice in picking Antonio Brown, who happened to be the top pass-catcher in fantasy this past season, while Hilton is Player B, and Beckham is Player C.

But if I were to put these three players back in a bag and mix them up, then send them back out with next-level metrics like Reception Net Expected Points (NEP), Reception NEP per Target and Success Rate (all of which you can read more about in our glossary), tell me who you would pick.

2016 Reception NEP Reception NEP/Target Success Rate
Player A 129.84 0.84 92.31%
Player B 111.68 0.66 81.19%
Player C 109.70 0.71 76.42%

Again, you'd most definitely want Player A, but it's not Brown this time -- it's Hilton. Player B is Beckham this time -- last year's fourth-best PPR wideout -- and Player C is Brown.

According to the advanced stats, Hilton has shown he belongs with the big names atop your wide receiver wish list.

Maintaining the Status Quo

For the Indianapolis Colts, there will be one minor change to their wide receiver corps in 2016. While they return presumable starter Donte Moncrief and slot man Phillip Dorsett, they also will throw free-agent signee Kamar Aiken into the mix. Judging from recent years, though, that shouldn't have an effect on Hilton's volume or production.

PlayerTargetsReceptionsReception NEP

As complementary receivers have come and gone, Luck's connection with Hilton has remained true. As long as he enters the season completely healthy, it wouldn't be outrageous to expect more of the same.

Outdoing Himself

Believe it or not, Hilton can improve, and our algorithms agree. For 2017, we project the 27-year-old to put up 88 catches and 1,359 yards on 165 targets. But the most positive shift should come in the form his potential for getting into the end zone. In a recent piece, Brandon Gdula used our numbers to show that Hilton sits near the top of a group of players that should've scored more than they did in 2016.

Our algorithms project Hilton to score 8.3 receiving touchdowns this season. If he were to fulfill all the expectations of our projections, he'd place sixth among all fantasy wideouts, which is why he's the 12th overall choice in our draft kit.

Hilton is getting plenty of respect, but maybe not quite enough. As the numbers bear out, he's a first-round talent. Ya know, just like he was last year.