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The Indianapolis Colts focused on bolstering the running back position during the 2018 draft, selecting Nyheim Hines in the fourth round and Jordan Wilkins in the fifth.

Hines was taken with pick 104 in the fourth round, making him the ninth running back to come off of the board in a loaded class. The 22-year-old actually started out as a wide receiver in college before shifting to running back later in his college career. As such, he has excellent hands in the passing game and was widely regarded as one of the top pass-catching backs in the 2018 draft. In addition to his skills catching the ball, Hines is also extremely fast. He ran a 4.38 forty-yard dash at the scouting combine, which places him in the 98th percentile at his position.

He was generally a second-round pick in dynasty rookie drafts this past year, although he did drop to the third round in many places after a disappointing preseason. Heading into the 2019 season, what does the future hold for Hines and how should he be regarded in dynasty leagues?

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Profile

Team: Indianapolis Colts
College: North Carolina State
Height/Weight: 5'9", 197 pounds
2018 NFL Draft: Round 4, Pick 104

 

Nyheim Hines' Rookie Season

Hines' rookie campaign got off to a rocky start as he struggled badly with fumbles during preseason action. The issues caused his ADP in dynasty startups to plunge from August to September amid rumors that he might not survive final cuts. The Colts wound up keeping him, and he went on to post 314 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 85 carries while adding 63 catches for 425 yards and another two scores. He finished as the RB27 in PPR leagues with 160.9 fantasy points.

While he finished as an RB3 for fantasy purposes, his final stats are a bit misleading as roughly one-quarter of his production came in Weeks 4 and 5, where he racked up 44.3 fantasy points. That time also coincided with a midseason injury to Marlon Mack, which led to more usage for Hines. Outside of that stretch, there were very few weeks where fantasy owners felt confident in plugging Hines into their lineups as a solid starting option, especially after the bye weeks ended.

 

Plenty of Competition

Hines formed part of a three-headed monster in the Indianapolis backfield as he had to split touches with second-year back Marlon Mack and fellow rookie Jordan Wilkins. Of the three, Mack (when healthy) operated as the team's clear lead back, especially on early downs and near the goal line. Wilkins mostly served as a change of pace option who was called upon to spell Mack when needed. Hines operated as Indy's clear preferred choice in the passing game, with his 63 catches ranking eighth among all NFL running backs and his 81 targets ranking seventh.

 

2019 Outlook

At just 197 pounds, Hines is simply not big enough physically to withstand the pounding that a lead running back in the NFL would absorb. As such, fantasy owners may have already caught a glimpse at his ceiling in fantasy in 2018, where he did some damage through the air but added very little of value on the ground.

Despite speculation that the Colts might be looking to add a big ticket free agent at running back, such as Le'Veon Bell, they are just as likely to remain committed to Marlon Mack as their lead runner and spend their cap space at other positions. Regardless of what happens with Mack when free agency and the draft roll around, it shouldn't affect Hines who profiles as nothing more than a third-down back in the NFL. The Colts are unlikely to add another pass-catching specialist in the next few years with Hines already on the team

From a best case scenario, the Colts will continue to feature Hines as their top pass-catching back in 2019, and he will be able to improve upon his paltry 6.7 yards per catch average. If Hines can up his YPC and make a few more trips to the end zone, an RB2 finish in PPR leagues is not out of the question, especially considering he is tied to Andrew Luck on what could be an explosive Colts offense in 2019. On the other hand, there's a good chance the Colts add a big name wide receiver to pair with T.Y. Hilton this upcoming season, which could cut into Hines' target share. After Hilton, the Colts employed one of the weakest wide receiver corps in the league in 2018, so that is definitely an area of need this offseason.

 

Dynasty Strategy

Hines doesn't hold enough dynasty value to be considered a sell candidate at this point as I would rather have him over his current valuation, which is around a late second-round or early third-round rookie pick. That being said, I am also not aggressively looking to go out and buy Hines, either. From a dynasty perspective, he profiles as a mere depth option at the running back position and not a player who you can rely on as an every week starter. At best, he holds value as a flex option in case of injury or a bye-week crunch.

If you have an interest in acquiring Hines in dynasty, there are a couple of routes to travel. You could try sending a third-round rookie pick to his owner and see if that's enough to pry him free. I don't think I would be willing to send a second-round pick for him. Another strategy would be to try getting Hines as a throw-in in a larger deal where he isn't the principal piece coming back. This is one of my favorite strategies when trying to buy fringe assets such as Hines in dynasty.

Hines sets up as a solid but unspectacular dynasty asset heading into the 2019 season. Consider him a younger version of Theo Riddick on a better offense. He doesn't have much upside but his job should be safe for the next few seasons, and he has shown to be an above-average third-down back in a good NFL offense. He isn't going to be a league-winner, but he is definitely an asset with some value as a depth option for dynasty owners.

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