I haven’t read a single article this year that says you should draft Darrius Heyward-Bey over TY Hilton, nor do I intend to write one. What I have seen are a lot of assurances that TY Hilton is still the Colts wide receiver you want after Reggie Wayne, and that DHB won’t hurt his fantasy value. It seems to me that the Colts receiver debate has been framed the wrong way – instead of asking if DHB will hurt TY Hilton, we should be asking if they can both have fantasy value in an offense that’s primed to score points.
What do we really know about the Colts this year? Well, we have an idea of what Pep Hamilton’s offense is going to look like. They’ll run the ball a lot more, and they’ll spread out the targets. We know that Hilton is small, and some RotoViz writers don’t like small wide receivers one bit. And if you’re Shawn Siegele, you think that TY Hilton’s luck factor (lowercase L) was unsustainably high last year and all those breakaway touchdown runs are unlikely to be duplicated.
Reggie Wayne, WR
Donnie Avery, WR
TY Hilton, WR
Dwayne Allen, TE
Coby Fleener, TE
Vick Ballard, RB
LaVon Brazill, WR
In his previous four seasons, Wayne was targeted an average of 146 times. 2012 bested his previous career high in targets by 1.3 targets/game. If we conclude that Wayne is in line for even a modest regression (don’t forget his efficiency has been in decline for quite some time), there are well over 150 targets there that need to be redistributed. Even if we’re afraid that Pep Hamilton isn’t going to throw quite as much, that’s a boatload of targets that have to go somewhere.
There’s also this little nugget: Heyward-Bey has been named the starter opposite Reggie Wayne, but that’s had minimal impact on their draft positions according to Fantasy Football Calculator. In fact, a full twenty-six wide receiver spots separate the two, with TYH the 29th wide receiver off the board and DHB going as #55 (PPR). When the market doesn’t react to new and relevant information, we’re presented with the opportunity for a value grab.
Now we’re at the part where you’re skeptical (assuming it took you this long). Yes, Darrius may get more looks, but that’s just more opportunity for balls to bounce off of his facemask, right? Who cares about opportunity when the guy can’t play? Let’s start by comparing TY Hilton, DHB and Donnie Avery:
Donnie Avery’s 6.2 yards per target was atrocious, but he still finished as the #42 wide receiver in PPR. He had value in deeper leagues, despite the fact that he was more inefficient than Homer Simpson at the power plant. Heyward-Bey’s not-bad 7.6 YPT is a significant upgrade; furthermore, DHB’s fantasy points over par (FPOP) metric has improved each year that he’s been in the league. In fact, his career progression is exceedingly positive. Betting that he continues to improve is not the worst choice you could make in the 13th round.
At present, Heyward-Bey is all upside. If you’ve already drafted, there’s a chance he’s on waivers, or he’ll be dirt cheap to acquire if you want more home run potential on your bench. Claiming him is the type of high-reward move that you should be making that late in the draft. He’s worth a much closer look than he’s getting at his current ADP.