The Indianapolis Colts were one of the most surprising teams in the NFL last season, as they won 11 games and earned a playoff berth after going 2-14 in 2011. A top-notch rookie class, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, led that resurgence and creates hope for the team to be a playoff contender for many years to come.
Fantasy football owners surely benefitted from having Luck, as he threw for 4,374 yards with 23 touchdowns along with 255 rushing yards and five more scores. But he was not the only Colts’ rookie to carry some fantasy value last season, as running back Vick Ballard (814 rushing yards), tight end Dwayne Allen (45 receptions) and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (50 receptions for 861 yards and seven touchdowns) were all roster-worthy depending on the size of your league.
Hilton is in line for a bigger role in 2013, but how highly should fantasy owners value him?
As could be expected from a rookie wide receiver, Hilton had an up-and-down 2012 season. He had five 100-yard games, with five of his touchdowns coming in those games, but he also had less than 40 receiving yards in eight of the 15 games he played. On the bright side Hilton’s 17.2 yards per-catch average ranked fourth in the league among wide receivers with 90 or more targets, and he had a punt return touchdown along with 418 combined punt and kickoff return yards.
Hilton’s fantasy upside was immediately hurt by the Colts’ signing of Darrius Heyward-Bey, but the former Oakland Raider suffered a left knee injury last weekend that is now thought not to be serious. That said, Hilton still has a great chance to assert himself as the clear-cut No. 2 wide receiver for the Colts and his fantasy stock is back on the rise.
I think it will be 2014 before Hilton emerges as a top fantasy option, and perhaps replaces Reggie Wayne as Luck’s top target, but it’s easy to project some improvement across the board for the second-year receiver. 60-70 receptions for around 1,000 yards and 5-10 touchdowns is a realistic projection for Hilton, which is enough to make him a low-end WR3 or high-end WR4 in 12-team leagues with some added value in leagues that count return yardage.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.