Given Andrew Luck’s Health, Is T.Y. Hilton Worth the Risk in Fantasy Football?

Hilton turned in poor results last season without Luck. With his value depressed given questions surrounding Luck's health, is he worth the gamble?

In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts were able to grab both quarterback Andrew Luck and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, and the two have developed quite a connection when on the field together.

We saw last season that Hilton's success is highly dependent on Luck's health. During the 2017 season, Hilton posted his lowest totals in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns since his rookie season in which he only started one game.

Currently, Hilton is being drafted as the WR14 according to FantasyFootballCalculator, putting him ahead of guys such as Larry Fitzgerald, Stefon Diggs, Demaryius Thomas, Amari Cooper and many other strong wide receivers.

Reports this offseason surrounding Andrew Luck's health are much more encouraging than they were at this time last season, but is Hilton really worth the gamble?

Luck-to-Hilton Connection

Hilton and Luck have played 74 games together, which includes six playoff games. During those 74 games, Hilton saw 22.1% of Luck's targets with an 8.1% touchdown rate.

Hilton and Luck really hit their stride together in the last two full seasons in which they were both healthy (2014 and 2016).

Year WR PPR Finish Team Target Share Targets Per Game Air Yards aDOT
2016 5 27.50% 10.0 1,898 12.2
2014 11 22.10% 8.7 1,819 14.0

With a fully healthy Luck, Hilton performed as a strong WR1 for fantasy owners.

As demonstrated by his air yard totals, Hilton has dominated the game as a deep threat. He ranked sixth in air yards in 2014 and fourth in 2016.

Of course, Hilton is not necessarily a dominant touchdown-maker, as evidenced by the fact that he has never topped seven touchdowns in a single season. With this in mind, we see Hilton have spike weeks throughout the year where he goes completely off and then a few weeks where he lays some duds.

However, as we saw in 2016, his volume increased, giving him more chances to catch those deep balls and cash in for fantasy owners.

In terms of our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Hilton ranked sixth and fifth, respectively, in Reception NEP per target in these two seasons, among receivers with at least 50 catches.

No matter how you slice it, Hilton and Luck have clicked when playing together.

Volume Situation

Hilton enters the 2018 season, as the only proven, reliable wide receiver on the Colts' current depth chart. Behind him are free agent pick up Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers, and rookie Deon Cain.

Besides Hilton, none of the Colts' wide receivers have ever caught more than 50 passes in a season.

Hilton's biggest competition for targets comes at the tight end position, with both Jack Doyle and newly acquired Eric Ebron. Neither of these guys are deemed field stretchers, as their biggest impacts come in the red zone.

Hilton has never been a dominant red zone threat, so overall, these tight ends don't effect Hilton's volume all that much.

Colts Pass Catcher Career Targets Career Receptions Career Touchdowns
T.Y. Hilton 758 431 34
Eric Ebron 288 186 11
Jack Doyle 226 174 12
Ryan Grant 141 84 6
Chester Rogers 71 42 1
James Wright 35 18 0
Kasen Williams 20 10 0

The Colts' overall passing game lacks experience, and Hilton dominates in every statistical category.

The offensive line projects to be in the bottom half of the league, with additional questions in the running game as well with unproven guys in Marlon Mack and rookies Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. We should see the Colts lean heavily on the pass with Luck at quarterback.

The expected volume outlook for Hilton is absolutely monstrous if the Colts do not add any more pass-catchers to the roster. Our algorithms project him for 130.2 targets this season.

Combined, we project the Colts' quarterbacks to throw 636 attempts this season, so that's only a 20.4% target market share for Hilton. If no other Colts receivers step up, we could see him around that 25 to 28% target market share.

That market share in a pass-happy offense would put him on pace for 150 targets easily, a number he surpassed in 2016 with 155 targets.


Last season, we saw Hilton's floor as he produced a season that ranked him 25th amongst wide receivers in PPR scoring with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Now with positive reports and Luck himself declaring that he will be ready for Week 1, we have to treat Hilton as an upside WR1.

The competition for targets in Indianapolis is scarce, locking Hilton into a heavy workload as Luck's lone game-breaker. History has shown that the Luck-to-Hilton connection has proven successful when healthy.

It's almost a guarantee that Hilton can't do any worse than his WR25 finish last season, even if Brissett starts -- Hilton's Reception NEP per catch was actually higher last season than in 2016.

If reports are accurate this offseason and Luck is a full go, Hilton's upside is unlimited in 2018, and a top-10 season is well within reach.