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T.Y. Hilton Fantasy Football Outlook Without Andrew Luck

What should you expect from T.Y. Hilton in fantasy football now that Jacoby Brissett is slated to start in place of the retired Andrew Luck.
T.Y. Hilton

Adam Schefter shocked the NFL world when he reported that Andrew Luck is calling it a career. While the news obviously has a tremendous impact on the NFL landscape, it also changes a lot in fantasy football. T.Y. Hilton was going in the third round of fantasy drafts, but where should you take him now that Jacoby Brissett is under center?

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Fantasy Football: Where to Take T.Y. Hilton Without Andrew Luck

Fortunately, we already have a one-season sample of T.Y. Hilton catching passes from Jacoby Brissett. Luck missed the 2017 season, forcing Brissett to start 15 of the Colts’ 16 games. During his time under center, Hilton recorded 57 receptions for 966 yards and four touchdowns. He ended the year as the WR27 and his receptions and yards were the lowest figures since his rookie year. His four touchdowns remain a career low.

At first glance, this looks like Luck’s injury turns Hilton from a fringe WR1 to a flex play. While Hilton’s value definitely goes down, there are reasons to believe the Hilton-Brissett connection will be better this time around. Brissett spent the vast majority of the 2017 offseason with the New England Patriots before getting traded just days before the season. As such, he didn’t have time to fully learn the Colts playbook or develop a full rapport with his new team. Additionally, Brissett and Hilton were playing under a different (and worse) system in 2017. With two seasons to develop chemistry and a better scheme, what can we expect from these two players?

T.Y. Hilton, Jacoby Brissett in Frank Reich’s Scheme

Hilton has a reputation as a one-trick deep threat, but Frank Reich actually incorporated him all over the field. According to Sharp Football Stats, 85 of Hilton’s 140 came less than 15 yards from the line of scrimmage.

This usage is due to Reich’s quick passing philosophy. Frank Reich likes to get the ball out early and install methodical drives down the field. This doesn’t mean he won’t call the occasional deep shot, but he’s more likely to use Hilton all over the field than former head coach Chuck Pagano.

This is good news for Brissett, who threw 388 of his 469 passing attempts within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage in 2017. Brissett clearly prefers short, safe throws, which makes him a fit for this offense. Hilton should see a rise from his 2017 production since Reich is more comfortable using him in the quick passing game.

Additionally, Reich’s scheme should help Brissett be a more effective and efficient quarterback. One of the biggest problems with Brissett’s film from 2017 is that he held on to the ball too long. Luck had a similar issue during his early years with the Colts, but Reich fixed that in just one season. The same could happen to Brissett, which will only help Hilton. A more effective quarterback means more opportunities, which improves Hilton’s fantasy value.

Average Draft Position

Prior to the Andrew Luck news, Hilton was going early in the third round of most fantasy football drafts. Luck’s retirement obviously pushes his stock down, but it shouldn’t cause his value to plummet. Hilton is still an incredibly talented receiver who should beat his WR27 finish from two seasons ago. Brissett and Hilton have been teammates for two seasons instead of one week, and Reich’s offensive scheme should help maximize production.

Fantasy Football Calculator hasn’t had time to adequately update Hilton’s average draft position following the news. Based on my expectations, he’s clearly in the Robert Woods/Brandin Cooks tier. Woods offers more reliability, but Cooks and Hilton should have similar seasons. Once these two Rams come off the board, Hilton should be the next receiver drafted.

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