Fantasy Football Player Debate: Tyreek Hill

Jul 18, 2018

Tyreek Hill is an explosive player, and the home-run threat has been polarizing in fantasy circles this draft season. Two of our writers, Jason Katz and Shane Davies, debate Hill’s current ADP, each taking a different side the debate.

Hill is the WR10 in PPR leagues according to our consensus ADP.

Of the 65 experts that have submitted PPR rankings, four have Hill as their WR10 or better, while the rest disagree with his current PPR ADP.

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Shane: I like Hill and I think he is truly one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL when he has the ball in his hands. I rostered him in a lot of my leagues last season and I was mostly satisfied with my return-on-investment. But he was wildly efficient in 2017 to the point where it is difficult to project a similar path of success this season. He had seven touchdowns on the year, but he was a complete non-factor in the red-zone as he registered zero touchdowns in that area of the field. On top of that, he has the most difficult schedule for wide receivers in 2018, which means he will be facing off against shutdown cornerbacks more times than not. That’s a major red-flag. Kansas City elevated Patrick Mahomes to QB1 and brought in Sammy Watkins, which will likely open up the offense more so than in years past and take away some targets from Hill. I have a hard time envisioning him returning on his current WR10 average draft position.

Jason: I appreciate the fact that your argument stems from your concerns about situation and efficiency and not Hill’s talent, of which there should be no debate. I’ll start with the schedule, which does not concern me at all. I agree that Hill is poised to show down with some truly elite cornerbacks. I just don’t think it matters. These elite corners are elite because of their ability to bump receivers at the line or hang with them downfield. They cannot do either of those things to Hill. He’s just too fast. I truly don’t believe the opposing corner matters. If Hill wants to burn you deep, he’s going to burn you deep and the only thing that can save you is safety help/a bad throw.

Per Pro Football Focus’ Scott Barrett, yards per route run is one of the most predictive metrics for repeatable success. Hill has been rated a top 15 WR in each of his first two seasons and was sixth in yards per route run in 2017. It seems impossible that he can replicate his seven touchdowns from 30+ yards out. That’s probably true. But it doesn’t mean that last year’s WR6 by PPR ppg is suddenly going to fall outside the top 12. Perhaps, like Barrett suggests, Hill is just one of those elite talents that will continue to produce efficiently on limited volume.

You mention Pat Mahomes as the new starter and the offense opening up. I agree. An open, more aerial offensive game plan can only help Hill. I have absolutely zero concerns about Watkins stealing targets from Hill. No one is worried about Calvin Ridley stealing Julio Jones‘ targets or Cameron Meredith stealing Michael Thomas‘ targets. Why not? Because when a team has a WR that is a truly elite playmaker and dynamic with the ball, lesser players don’t suddenly take away their targets. After seeing what Hill has done over his first two seasons, what would possess the Chiefs to want to use Hill less?

Shane: There is no debate necessary when it comes to Hill’s talent. But I think it is a bit of a stretch to compare him to Julio Jones and Michael Thomas when it comes to their involvement in their respective offenses. Both Jones and Thomas ranked top five across the entire league in target share percentage. Hill only demanded 21% of his offense’s targets, ranking 27th.

I have no issue with drafting Hill in 2018, but my main concern is his average draft position. I would feel a lot more comfortable if he was being drafted as a mid-level WR2 rather than a borderline WR1. Andy Reid’s offense typically spreads the ball around, which has contributed to just five wide receivers producing a 1,000-yard receiving effort in a single season between two teams since Reid became a head coach in 1999: Tyreek Hill (2017), Jeremy Maclin (2015), Terrell Owens (2004), Kevin Curtis (2007) and DeSean Jackson, who did it twice (2009-10).

Jason: I’m not suggesting that Hill will ever be involved to the level of guys like Julio or Thomas. I was merely making the comparison between teams’ WR1s and the reason that we aren’t concerned about lesser caliber players taking their targets. While I always preach that situation + opportunity > talent, the talent part still matters. Opportunity can and will easily go away if the player is not good. All Hill has done in his two years in the NFL is produce at a high level. It is counterintuitive to think that his performance over his first two seasons should, in any way, warrant a reduction in volume. I don’t expect Hill to ever be a large volume guy because of the type of player he is, but it is far more likely that his 21% target share goes to 23% or 25% than down under 20%.

I liked your information about Andy Reid offenses so much that I went and dug a little deeper. Since 2001, here are the target counts for Reid’s WR1:

  • 2001: 108 (James Thrash)
  • 2002: 113 (Todd Pinkston)
  • 2003: 92 (Thrash, and Donovan McNabb only attempted 478 passes this season)
  • 2004: 127 (Owens)
  • 2005: 105 (Greg Lewis amongst a collection of bad WRs)
  • 2006: 88 (Reggie Brown in another year where the team had bad WRs)
  • 2007: 135 (Curtis)
  • 2008: 120 (Jackson)
  • 2009: 117 (Jackson)
  • 2010: 115 (Jeremy Maclin)
  • 2011: 104 (Jackson in 15 games)
  • 2012: 122 (Maclin in 15 games)
  • 2013: 103 (Dwayne Bowe in 15 games)
  • 2014: 95 (Bowe in 15 games)
  • 2015: 124 (Maclin in 15 games)
  • 2016: 76 (Maclin in 12 games, extrapolates to 101)
  • 2017: 105 (Hill in 15 games)

Reid’s history tells us that any time he’s had a legitimately talented WR1, he’s seen over 100 targets, at times even more. If any evidence exists suggesting that Hill’s target count is going to drop this season, I haven’t seen it. DeSean Jackson was with Andy Reid for five years in Philly. In every season, he either exceeded 100 targets or would have had he not gotten hurt. In every season, he either reached 1,000 yards or would have had he not gotten hurt (with the exception of his rookie season in 2008 where he only had 912 yards). Hill is like a better version of Jackson – a more efficient version. Jackson’s highest catch rate in a Reid offense was 55.8%. Hill’s catch rates over his first two seasons: 73.5% and 71.4%. And as an added bonus, Hill is going to see about a carry a game as well as return punts. Everything about Hill’s profile suggests that what he did last season is repeatable, at least to the extent that he can return low-end WR1 value even if he regresses some. At a WR2 price, I could not possibly be more in on a player that has legitimate overall WR1 upside.

Shane: Interesting data but it lacks context. It doesn’t factor in the emergence of Travis Kelce in the past three seasons. All of those receivers listed above were the sure-fire number one options in the passing game for Reid’s respective teams, which is why they received the lion share of the targets every season. Kelce has commanded the majority of the targets in Reid’s offense in recent years, but it remains to be seen if it will remain that way with Mahomes under center. Kelce’s involvement in the offense has increased every season from 2015.

In conclusion, however, Hill’s wildly efficient 2017 season seems to be unsustainable if history is any indication. He’s the only wide receiver since 2000 to finish as a fantasy WR1 in a single season despite seeing 21% or less of his team’s targets in tandem with less than 10% of his team’s red-zone targets. Hill is one of my favorite players to watch on any given week, but I prefer T.Y. Hilton or Doug Baldwin for the same price point simply because they offer a higher floor than Hill.

Jason: I respect the T.Y. Hilton position. I am a big Hilton guy myself, but I cannot respect Baldwin. If volume and efficiency are your concerns with Hill, then why would you want a 30-year-old slot WR on a run-first, run-second offense that has never commanded more than 125 targets in a season?

I agree that Hill’s efficiency seems unsustainable and an efficiency drop is to be expected, but I do think he is the type of player that will consistently exceed efficiency expectations and I also expect a volume increase.

Thanks again to Shane and Jason for their participation. Share with them your thoughts on Hill, and let us know what you think @FantasyPros.

Fantasy Football Player Debate: Julio Jones

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Shane Davies is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Shane, check out his archive and follow him @SBDAVIES7.

Jason Katz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jason, check out his archive, follow him @jasonkatz13, and listen to him on the Fantasy Forensics Podcast.

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