Why T.Y. Hilton Needs to Remain in Your Lineup

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Did you know T.Y. Hilton is currently second in the NFL in receiving yards?

I sure didn't. It has been an indescribable roller coaster of emotions for T.Y. Hilton owners, culminating in two scenarios in Week 9: your faith in Hilton paid off and he carried you to victory with one of the five best half-PPR performances of the season, or you've been pulling your hair out for the past few days wondering why you would ever bench T.Y. Hilton when you knew the week you benched him was the week he would go off.

I would rather play Hilton in a dud performance than have him on my bench when he goes off. He is way too valuable on his best day to keep on the bench. For better or worse, Hilton owners need to be starting him every week (except maybe one) for the rest of the season. Lets take a look at Hilton's season so far to understand further, broken down into tiers of three games: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

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The Good

Week 3 vs Cleveland: 7 receptions, 153 yards, 1 touchdown
Week 5 vs San Francisco: 7 receptions, 177 yards
Week 9: 5 receptions, 175 yards, 2 touchdowns

Average: 6 receptions, 168 yards, 1 touchdown

Each of Hilton's top performances this year have ranked in the top five half-PPR scoring totals for receivers in the week, with Week 9 being tops overall for that week and Hilton's best individual performance since Week 6 of 2014.

Here are all the other receivers to have three games this season ranking in the top-five half-PPR scoring totals for receivers: Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins. Thats it. When Hilton is on, he's as good as anyone in the league. You can't look at Hilton's best games as a fluke. He's done it in a third of his games this season. Starting Hilton gives you a 33% chance of having a top five receiver in your lineup.

 

The Bad

Week 1 at LA Rams: 3 receptions, 57 yards
Week 2 vs Arizona: 4 receptions, 49 yards
Week 4 at Seattle: 3 receptions, 30 yards

Average: 3 receptions, 45 yards

Starting Hilton also gives you a 33% chance of having an extremely mediocre receiver in your lineup. Hilton doesn't often get red zone targets. When he's scoring, it usually comes off a big play. When he doesn't produce big plays, usually you get something like this. The averages from these three games was typically Hilton's floor playing with Andrew Luck. It was an acceptable floor given how incredible his week-to-week ceiling was. Without Luck in the lineup this season, Hilton's floor has been, well.....

 

The Ugly

Week 6 at Tennessee: 1 reception, 19 yards
Week 7 vs Jacksonville: 2 receptions, 27 yards
Week 8 at Cincinnati: 2 receptions, 15 yards

Average: 2 receptions, 20 yards

This is Hilton's floor. You can combine all three of these games and they would still produce a very lackluster fantasy week, even in full-PPR formats. The worst part about this was that it happened in three consecutive games. Hilton owners were put to a test of faith, and I'm sure many backed out by Week 9 and kept Hilton out of their lineups.

I totally get it. What kind of player is worth starting after a three-game average of 20 yards a game without finding the end zone? It made plenty of sense to bench Hilton this week. But its about time we learn from our mistakes.

 

Putting It All Together

T.Y. Hilton has had at least five 100 yard games in every season except one. He's on pace to do it again this year, but we need to talk about the year he didn't do it: 2015.

Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton came into the NFL together in 2012 and have been making magic happen on the field ever since, so it makes sense that the year T.Y. failed to hit his 100 yard milestone was the only season up until now where Luck played less than 15 games. Hilton's best game of that season was a 150-yard, two-touchdown performance in one of the seven games Luck appeared in. His only other 100-yard performance came in a blowout loss to Jacksonville late in the season. Two important facts from this game: none of Hilton's yards came in garbage time, and all of them came from passes thrown by a fossilized Matt Hasselbeck.

Why even bring this up? My point is that Hilton has proven he can succeed without Luck in the past, and has had bad games with Luck at quarterback. He's a much more consistent player when he plays with Luck. I can't imagine he'd ever have a three game stretch like he did in Weeks 6-8 this season with Luck throwing the ball. But Hilton can have a Hilton game without Luck. He has done it three times this season and he has done it in the past.

Hilton's ROS schedule isn't pretty. He plays four top-tier passing defenses: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Denver, and Jacksonville. Outside of Jacksonville, top tier receivers have found a way to make things happen against these defenses. Pittsburgh notably got carved up by Marvin Jones, a player who also falls into the T.Y. Hilton boom-or-bust category. I'd hesitate playing Hilton against Jacksonville, but I wouldn't think twice in the other matchups. His ceiling is just too high.

Marqise Lee has been a very consistent performer for Jacksonville this year. Outside of a poor Week 1, Lee is averaging five receptions for 63 yards. He's had five games in that stretch with at least 60 yards and his highest yardage total of the year was 83. Lee is a typical high floor, low ceiling, old reliable WR3 type player.

You know who isn't going to win you a championship? Marqise Lee. You know who might? T.Y. Hilton. I'll take three games of elite Hilton and three games of garbage Hilton over six weeks of Marqise Lee. If you sold Hilton already, then hopefully you don't live to regret it. If you bought low or held when things were rough, your decision could pay dividends down the stretch.

 

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