Why Phillip Dorsett Could Break Out in Fantasy Football in 2016

Phillip Dorsett barely contributed as a rookie, but could he still be a breakout fantasy football star in his second year?

I thought that Phillip Dorsett was one of the more baffling picks of the 2015 NFL Draft. The team already had T.Y. Hilton, who they signed to an extension later in the off-season. They also still had talented young wideout Donte Moncrief and had signed veteran Andre Johnson.

Sure enough, Dorsett did very little as a rookie, amassing just 18 receptions the entire season.

But there are reasons to believe this will change in 2016. In fact, I think that Dorsett could have a true breakout season.


As with all second-year players, it is sometimes important to remind people of just how good of a prospect they were coming out of college. Check out Dorsett's page at Player Profiler.

There are a couple of things that should stand out to you the most here about Dorsett. For starters, his best comparable player is listed as Brandin Cooks, which is great company to be in as a small, fast wide receiver.

Also, while he wasn't outrageously productive in college at Miami, he did manage 24.2 yards per reception in his final season. Again, 24.2! That ability to stretch the field is perfect for the Indianapolis Colts when we consider what Andrew Luck has been able to do with Hilton.

Available Targets

The Colts had 658 available targets in 2014. Last season, Luck attempted 41.86 passes per game in the seven contests in which he appeared. That would be about a 670-attempt pace over the course of the season. Now, take a look at how targets were distributed to wide receivers and tight ends the last two years, starting with 2014.

Name Targets Market Share
T.Y. Hilton 131 19.9%
Reggie Wayne 116 17.6%
Coby Fleener 92 14.0%
Hakeem Nicks 69 10.5%
Dwayne Allen 50 7.6%
Donte Moncrief 49 7.4%
Jack Doyle 22 3.3%
Griff Whalen 3 0.5%

For this second table, let's break things down into targets per game and only use games in which Luck played.

Name Targets Per Game Market Share
T.Y. Hilton 9.29 22.2%
Donte Moncrief 7.71 18.4%
Andre Johnson 5.57 13.3%
Coby Fleener 5.00 11.9%
Phillip Dorsett 2.57 6.1%
Dwayne Allen 2.29 5.5%
Griff Whalen 2.00 4.8%
Jack Doyle 1.00 2.4%

You'll note first that in each of the last two seasons, the Colts were a deeper receiving team than they are now. In both years, they had the duo of Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen at tight end. They also ran four deep at wide receiver, usually with the assistance of some aging veteran (Johnson last year and Hakeem Nicks in 2014).

Now the Colts look entirely different. They only have Allen at tight end as he looks to earn his new contract. Their current fourth wide receiver is Quan Bray, an undrafted second-year player from Auburn. Needless to say, I don't expect either he or new second-string tight end Jack Doyle to be much of a factor this season.

Tight ends and wide receivers accounted for 80.8 percent of targets in 2014, and 84.6 percent of targets last year in games Luck played. The Colts lost 30 percent of their 2015 targets with the departures of Johnson, Fleener, and Griff Whalen.

If we take the average of the tight end and wide receiver target percentages as well as the average Luck attempts for both years, here is a reasonable projection for the Colts' target distribution in 2016.

Name Market Share Targets
T.Y. Hilton 23% 153
Donte Moncrief 19% 126
Dwayne Allen 17% 113
Phillip Dorsett 14% 93
Jack Doyle 5% 33
Fourth Wide Receiver 5% 33

There is obviously some level of ambiguity to how many targets Allen and Dorsett will receive, but 90 targets seems like a reasonable mark for the second-year receiver with a ceiling as high as 110 or so without an injury to any other Colts skill player.

Because Dorsett showed in college that he can get a good number of yards per reception, and Luck is only a year removed from great per-drop-back efficiency, Dorsett could absolutely produce on that level of volume.

Draft Dorsett

Dorsett has a current average draft position of the 57th-ranked wide receiver on MyFantasyLeague and is the 63rd-ranked wideout on Fantasy Football Calculator. That certainly undervalues his potential playing in an extremely high-volume offense with a talented young quarterback.

With his propensity to make big plays, he is an absolutely ideal player to snag in best-ball leagues, and in re-draft leagues, he could bring third-string wide receiver production at a cheap price. If Allen or someone else were to get hurt (not outlandish considering he's missed 21 games over the past three seasons), Dorsett could produce even more. With the rising costs of Hilton, Moncrief, and Allen, Dorsett seems to be the best way to get exposure to this offense.