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Fantasy Football Receivers: T.Y. Hilton vs. Andre Johnson

Thomas Campbell

Thomas Campbell – USATODAY Sports

How good was last night’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans? We saw a team that everyone had buried jump out to a huge lead only to have a team that we gave up on a halftime come back and win the game. Both offenses excelled in a similar fashion, got their top play making pass catchers the ball and watched to see if they could find the end zone. Well, it worked six times, as Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton combined to catch 16 passes on 25 targets for 350 yards and six scores. But what player did we learn more about for the rest of the season?

While Johnson may be the player with more talent, I believe we learned more about Hilton for the 2013 season. First, let’s start at the quarterback position. The Colts have the obvious advantage here as Andrew Luck is simply far better than Case Keenum, no matter how good the Houston rookie looked for two quarters last night. Luck has grown as a quarterback this season (on pace to cut his interception total by 67 percent), and with Reggie Wayne (torn ACL) out for the remainder of the season, Hilton is in a position to be the main beneficiary. In their last five wins, Luck has led the Colts to 32.8 points per game — not bad considering that two of those games came against top four scoring defenses. Keenum has impressed in his two starts, but this isn’t a great offense. Without a truly healthy running back it is going to be nearly impossible to find Johnson as often as he did on Sunday night. Take the second half for example, as the Colts adjusted to Keenum’s skill-set and held Johnson to a mere two catches for 39 yards and no touchdowns. The Texans’ top receiver has never been a top shelf pass catcher in terms of reaching pay dirt, and the fact that he seemed to score on every deep pass in the first 30 minutes of a nationally televised game doesn’t change the fact that he had failed to score on his last 79 receptions going into Week 9.

The quarterback situation is one thing, but I could overlook that in favor of Johnson’s talent if the schedule lined up nicely — but it doesn’t. With the lone exception being a second game against the Colts (and if you think Johnson is going to see anything but double or triple coverage in that game, you’re crazy), every one of Houston’s final six games come against a defense that either rank in the top ten in terms of passing yards allowed or have intercepted at least 12 passes. That’s a tough road for any quarterback, but for a rookie that that has thrown 59 passes in the NFL it’s a recipe for disaster. Luck’s schedule is mildly easier, giving Hilton greater upside in his new role as the Colts No. receiver.

Johnson will likely rank among the top seven or eight receivers in a handful of weeks from this point forward, but expecting him to do so on a consistent basis isn’t wise. For the rest of the season, I’ve got Johnson and Hilton in the same breath as far as fantasy production goes, which means you can get significant value (in my opinion) should you decide to deal Johnson right now.

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