INDIANAPOLIS — In fantasy football drafts, there is always a war being waged between what your heart desires and what your head knows is right.
Maybe you love a certain player but they've had an issue that clouds their fantasy prospects moving forward.
For those that have had this internal struggle regarding Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton following what he considered a "down" season in 2017 (despite making the Pro Bowl), rest assured. NFL.com fantasy editor Marcas Grant said he believes that Hilton will bounce back:
"If you believe in Andrew Luck's resurrection (and at this point, who doesn't?), then by extension, you should believe in T.Y. Hilton's revival. Last season was the first time since his rookie campaign that he failed to clear 1,000 yards and at least five touchdowns. It was also the first season in his career that he didn't have Luck feeding him most of his targets. If he can get closer to where he was in 2016 (91/1,448/6) then you're looking at a top five fantasy receiver at a third round draft price*. Value!"
Without quarterback Andrew Luck last season, Hilton had his lowest numbers since his rookie year, totaling 57 receptions (108 targets) for 966 yards and four touchdowns. His annual average every other season is 74.8 receptions (130.0 targets) for 1,172.2 yards and 6.0 touchdowns.
As Grant mentioned, Hilton's numbers were indeed off from his normal standards in 2017, but it was also the first time that Luck wasn't Hilton's primary pass distributor.
The last time Luck and Hilton played the majority of a season together was 2016 when Hilton led the entire NFL in receiving yards (1,448). In fact, Hilton has been a progressing fantasy stud throughout his career.
In seasons in which Luck has been Hilton's primary quarterback, Hilton's receiving yards, receiving yards per game, receptions of 20-plus yards and first downs have increased each year. You could consider receptions in there as well, but Hilton had 82 each in 2013 and 2014.
Are you in a league that rewards big plays with bonus points? Good — Hilton's for you.
On passing plays of 20-plus yards, the Luck-to-Hilton connection has the fourth-highest passer rating (129.4) in Pro Football Focus' 12-year history.
Overall, Hilton is a proven consistent downfield threat, averaging 15.8 yards per catch for his career and pulling in an average of 17.7 catches of 20-plus yards per season.
If your league rewards huge in-game performances, Hilton has your back there as well.
By the end of the 2017 season, Hilton had accumulated 10 career games with at least 150 receiving yards, good for the fifth-most in NFL history within a player's first six years. The only players with more such games are Hall of Famers Jerry Rice, Randy Moss, Lance Alworth and (potential future Hall of Famer) Julio Jones.
Hilton also has the key trait of reliability — missing just two games in his career despite occasionally playing through nagging injuries — and none since 2014.
Well, now Luck is back, so what is to stop Hilton from surging back up the fantasy charts?
Many people are thinking that now apparently, as Hilton's ADP (Average Draft Position) in fantasy drafts has gone up a full round since June.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Hilton's ADP was at a 2018-low of 4.02 as of June 20. At the time, Luck had only publicly thrown a football a couple times and wasn't yet throwing a regulation NFL ball with regularity. People weren't yet convinced of his health.
By July 25 — the day the Colts reported for training camp — Hilton's ADP had only slightly improved, up to 3.10.
Now, after Luck has proven to be healthy and looks like his old self, has been a regular participant in practice and appeared in the Colts' first three preseason games, it's having an obvious effect on Hilton's status.
Hilton is now trending upward, his ADP balancing between 3.03 and 3.05 since mid-Aug. when the Colts broke camp.
Facts aside, you could listen to Hilton himself about how he used the offseason to approach this season.
"All the great ones, they find a way to just continue to keep working," Hilton told the media this summer. "Since we came off the field in Week 17 — I probably took a day or two off — but I just kept working. I just wanted to get better.
"I have to get back to being me."