By: Asher Wenrich (@AsherWenrichNFL)
There are not many things better in a fantasy football draft than stealing a top producer in the mid-to-late rounds; bargain hunting if you will (cough, cough). Looking back at your draft board eight weeks in and seeing that it is a masterful piece of art deserving of an award is perhaps the most satisfying experience fantasy football can offer. However, to make this happen, you have to do your homework. Homework, in this case, is using the past as a way to predict the future. Our assignment today is to find the stud-to-be this season so that all of you can have that amazing experience.
Honestly, the answer to the question of who will be a dastardly steal this season was fairly easy to find; it is T.Y. Hilton. As it currently stands, Amari Cooper, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs are being drafted ahead of Hilton. His current ADP in all league types lands at the beginning of the fourth round for 12 teamers. Before we move any farther, let’s look at those three guys being taken ahead of him.
First, we have Amari Cooper. Cooper is incredibly talented, however, looking at his fantasy production gives me a slight anxiety attack. It is all over the place, going from scoring 23 points one week to a span of eight games with less than 12. Scoring under four points for five consecutive weeks, and then suddenly booming to 30. There is no rhyme or reason to it, no predicting when he will boom or bust. All there is is uncertainty, and uncertainty does not succeed in the statistical chess match of fantasy football.
The inconsistency of Cooper really shines through when looking at his weekly finishes. According to FFStatics.com, Cooper has spent the majority of his career outside of the top 24. Cooper simply has not shown the ability to consistently produce, devaluing him by leaps and bounds in my book.
Hilton, on the other hand, has proven himself as a player that can consistently produce when Andrew Luck is on the field. Between the two last years in which Luck was healthy, 2014 and 2016, Hilton was a top 24 receiver 17 times. He landed in the top 36 5 times, and just outside that 9 times. In two years alone, Hilton produced more top 12 weeks than Cooper has produced over his entire career. Cooper has not rewarded those who invest high draft capital in him, so why would he start now?
The second wide receiver being drafted ahead of Hilton that I take issue with is Tyreek Hill. Ok, so I actually Hill, but it seems almost impossible that he does not see regression this year. Hill saw barely 100 targets last year and he will almost certainly see less this upcoming season, mainly due to his team adding Sammy Watkins to the arsenal.
On top of this, Alex Smith was one of the most efficient passers in the league last season, making the most of nearly every throw, and while I realize many are already giving the MVP to Patrick Mahomes, he will likely have many hiccups throughout his first go in the pros. So not only will Hill see fewer targets, but his targets will likely be of lesser quality. Hill is an amazing talent, but he has some qualities of a bust in the making.
Finally, we have Stefon Diggs. Diggs’ value and current ADP are both being drawn from the hope that he will take a leap this upcoming season. He somewhat did during the beginning of last season, however, he took a step back after returning from injury. There are several issues in this hopeful outlook of Diggs, the combination of which makes him being drafted ahead of Hilton seem ridiculous. The first is obvious, that he has a very solid receiver running right beside him in Adam Thielen. Thielen showed off his meticulous skills last season and they will surely be utilized during this upcoming one.
The second, he has a new quarterback, which is always a difficult transition to make seamlessly. Now, Kirk Cousins is a more skilled quarterback than Case Keenum, but how the Vikings offense is shaped around him is yet to be seen. And third, he has a new offensive coordinator, which may also present difficulties.
There are just too many questions surrounding Diggs, a receiver who still has not found definitive and consistent success at this point in his career. He has a very high ceiling, but so does Hilton, and the heights which Hilton has shown the ability to reach to have not been touched by Diggs.
The Case for T.Y. Hilton
T.Y. Hilton was a top 12 wide receiver in both 2014 and 2016, which, as stated before, are the last two years in which Andrew Luck was healthy. Luck is poised to return this season, and with him comes the light show that is T.Y. Hilton. The pair is easily capable of being one of the top duos in the league, just as they have been in the past. The Colts have also brought on a new coach, Franch Reich, one of the people responsible for the Eagle’s SuperBowl winning offense last season. Hilton has everything in the making to produce top 12 numbers this season, which is why I believe he is this year’s stud-to-be.
Thanks for reading and be sure to follow me on twitter (@AsherWenrichNFL)