Who Is the Best Colts Receiver for Dynasty Leagues?

It’s pretty obvious that Andrew Luck is going to be a fantasy football force. He should be racking up huge numbers for the next 10 fantasy football seasons, at least.

If you play in a dynasty league, then hopefully you added Andrew Luck his rookie season. If you didn’t, then the next-best thing is to have his #1 wide receiver, to get some of the fantasy points spillover.

If you did have Andrew Luck, then the best way to dominate your opponents is to pair him with his #1 wide receiver, the player who’s going to receive the most targets. In the daily fantasy sports world, they call it “stacking” points.

The question becomes who the long term number one receiver with the Indianapolis Colts is going to be: T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, or Phillip Dorsett? It’s an immensely important question to answer correctly for dynasty league owners. This is a keeper who might be the NFL’s best passer’s star wideout for 10 years.

Think about it: ten years of production is on the line.

Each of the young pass catchers has a ton of talent. Each should be a key piece in a dominant Colts Offense over the next few seasons. But at this point in time, it is hard to say which one is best…or is going to be the best.

Things are complicated even more because of the presence of Andre Johnson. The answer is fairly obvious for the 2015 season. Andre Johnson is the veteran brought in to fill the void left by Reggie Wayne’s departure. The Colts got schooled in the AFC Championship Game by the New England Patriots. The Colts added Andre Johnson and Frank Gore to add grit and veteran experience to their offensive unit. Next time, maybe they don’t fold under the pressure.

Therefore, Andre Johnson is going to get a bunch of targets. He’s playing with the best quarterback he’s ever played with. At 34, he’s still young enough to be a factor–even a force–if he stays healthy. Drafting Andre Johnson makes a lot of sense in redraft leagues, especially when T.Y. Hilton is going higher in those drafts.

Speaking of T.Y. Hilton, he’s the trendy pick in redraft leagues, and with good reason. If I were picking one of member of the Colts receiver corps for the 2015 season alone, I’d probably select TY Hilton. But this isn’t about 2015; it’s as much about 2016 and 2017 and 2018 as it is now. We want to know who Andrew Luck’s favorite receivers in 2020 is going to be–maybe even project out to 2025. It’s a long game we play here today.

With that in mind, let’s look at the three main candidates for Andrew Luck’s favored receiver over the next few years. Let’s start with the obvious choice and discuss why it might be as cut-and-dried as it seems.

T.Y. Hilton – Player Profile

Height: 5’9″
Weight: 180
College: Florida International Panthers
Age: 25
Years Pro: 4
40-Time: 4.34
Jersey Number: 13

T Y Hilton Player Bio

T.Y. Hilton Had over 1000 Yards in 2013 and over 1300 Yards in 2014.

T.Y. Hilton is the starting wideout at the moment.

T.Y. Hilton has been a key contributor from the time he came to Colts. In his rookie season, Hilton posted 50 receptions for 861 yards and 7 touchdowns. In Year 2, he collected 82 receptions for 1,083 yards and 5 touchdowns. In Year 3, he posted 82 receptions for 1,345 yards and 7 touchdowns.

The statistics show a steady growth in production over a three-year arc, beginning with a solid base. Part of his production has been his own hard work, while the growth of Andrew Luck also has helped. The two came into the league together, and the two make a formidable combination. They should make a lethal combination for years to come.

Looking ahead to 2016, though, Hilton’s rookie contract ends and he’ll be a free agent. When that happens, the big question is whether he’ll stay with the Indianapolis Colts.

Those are big numbers, which means T.Y. Hilton is going to expect a big contract. The team might be expected to keep Andrew Luck’s favorite targets together, but the team also has two talented backups who’ll be cheaper. Those players also might be ready to come to the forefront.

Meanwhile, let’s assume that Andre Johnson makes a solid contribution and isn’t simply a one-year addition. Even if he is only a 2-year solution, that second year might be enough to create a numbers problem, pushing T.Y. Hilton out the door of free agency.

If the Colts are going to let Hilton walk, they’re going to need ready replacements. Here are those potential replacements.

Inside the Numbers: T.Y. Hilton is a small, fast receiver. Being smaller can be an advantage, but injuries might pile up over the years. That could be a factor in determining how long the teams invests in him. He’ll be 26 when he reaches free agency. Plenty of production should remain, but the team might have a backup plan in place by 2016.

Donte Moncrief – Player Profile

Height: 6’2″
Weight: 221
College: Ole Miss Rebels
Age: 22
Years Pro: 2
40-Time: 4.40
Jersey Number: 10

Donte Moncrief Player Bio

Donte Moncrief Shined as an Injury Replacement Starter in 2014, But Has Since Fallen to #4 on the Colts Depth Chart.

Donte Moncrief’s rookie season was by no means as substantial as Hilton’s rookie season. Moncrief totalled 32 receptions for 444 yards and 3 touchdowns–about half as much production as T.Y. Hilton had.

Their circumstances were different, though. Hilton was a starter his rookie year. Donte Moncrief, on the other hand, began the year as the #4 receiver. TY Hilton and Reggie Wayne were the undisputed starters, while veteran Hakeem Nicks filled the role as the #3 receiver (though not very well). Naturally, Moncrief was not likely to produce a big rookie season.

When Reggie Wayne went out with an elbow injury, Moncrief got a start against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Colts fans will remember that as the 51-34 shootout. The rookie had 7 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Opportunities were somewhat sporadic after that. On November 30 against the Washington Redskins, Moncrief had 3 receptions for 133 yards and 2 touchdowns. The rookie did not always take full advantage of his chances, but one would expect that of a rookie.

When the season was over, fans could look back and say Donte Moncrief had shown tremendous potential and upside. The coaches’ trust in him seemed to grow during the season. He was called on to contribute in the playoff games versus the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. He showed promise.

The promise is this: Donte Moncrief is a big receiver who could become the number one target in 2016. He has the speed to be a downfield threat. He has the size to go over the middle and take a pounding. He has the height and athleticis to beat cornerbacks for the ball. In other words, no receiver on the roster looks more like a classic (future) #1 receiver than Donte Moncrief.

Once you start looking at the Colts’ moves these past couple of years, you get the idea Donte Moncrief is being groomed to be the eventual star receiver. The team signed Andre Johnson ahead of him, so perhaps the front office doesn’t have full confidence. Moncrief appeared to be Plan A and Johnson would appear to be Plan B, though.

Inside the Numbers: It should be noted that the coaching staff seemed to trust Moncrief more and Hakeem Nicks less as the season transpired. Hakeem Nicks was the 7th-leading receiver on the team by midseason, when Chuck Pagano gave Moncrief the start over Nicks.

Phillip Dorsett – Player Profile

Height: 5’10”
Weight: 185
College: Miami Hurricanes
Age: 22
Years Pro: Rookie
40-Time: 4.33
Jersey Number: 15

Phillip Dorsett Player Bio

Phillip Dorsett Is Rumored to Be Hilton’s Eventually Replacement, But Currently Is Beating Moncrief for the Slot Receiver Job

Phillip Dorsett is the great wild card in the Colts’ future. To all appearances, it looks like General Manager Ryan Grigson drafted a clone of T.Y. Hilton. Phillip Dorsett is slightly bigger and slightly faster than TY Hilton, though the term should probably be “ever-so-slightly”. Whatever the case, the two are similar players, known for their speed and quickness.

If anything, Phillip Dorsett is more highly touted. That’s natural, given Dorsett is from the University of Miami and Hilton is from Florida International. The rookie played in nationally-televised games and impressed a legion of fans. The early scoop leading up to the draft from many fans (Dynasty Nerds, Bleeding Green Nation, The Fake Football) was that Phillip Dorsett is the next coming of Desean Jackson.

NFL.com’s Chris Wesseling told Ian Rappaport on the NFL Network’s ‘Around the NFL’ podcast, “They [The Colts] could not be higher on Phillip Dorsett. I think they think they added a superstar.”

That might sound like typical training camp fodder, but Phillip Dorsett is now said to be leading the battle to become the Colts’ #3 wide receiver. With Andre Johnson and T.Y. Hilton entrenched as the starters, Dorsett is leading Donte Moncrief to be the slot receiver. That would imply Moncrief has lost favor (further) and the rookie is filling the void. When he was drafted, one got the idea Dorsett would be a kick returner and punt returner in 2015, then move into a more prominent role in 2016 and beyond. It seems now that he’s the present and the future.

Thus, Phillip Dorsett might be a danger to T.Y. Hilton’s job security in the future, while he’s beating out Donte Moncrief for a more prominent role in 2015. Maybe it’s overblown to see Donte Moncrief as failed because a smaller, more elusive receiver is beating him for the slot receiver role. Maybe Phillip Dorsett has a better skill set to be the slot receiver, and that has nothing to do with Moncrief being the heir apparent as Andrew Luck’s eventually #1 receiver. Coming to that conclusion might be overanalysis. If so, then you might play up Moncrief’s status as #4 receiver in trade talks…while bargaining for Andrew Luck’s eventually best receiver.

Inside the Numbers: One conclusion I’ve made is that Phillip Dorsett is the safest pick of the three, if you want a player who is going to be with Andrew Luck for a long time. You can find reasons the team might allow T.Y. Hilton to walk or might sour on Donte Moncrief. You won’t find any of that with Dorsett. The team thinks he is a “superstar” in the making.

Fantasy Football Projection and Analysis

With everything taken into account, it is certain the Indianapolis Colts want options. They are investing heavily in receivers for Andrew Luck. In drafting Phillip Dorsett, the team also might be investing in leverage for an eventual contract squabble with T.Y. Hilton.

Most of the time, teams try to hold on to 25-26 year old receivers with an unbroken history of production. That makes them costly, so it makes sense to have a backup plan, if the asking price gets too high. No team wants to be held hostage. Drafting Phillip Dorsett thus makes sense, even if TY Hilton is kept. If the team ends up with two shifty, speedy wideouts in the future–then so be it. I’d place T.Y. Hilton as a 60% to 70% in favor of staying with the Colts: a two-thirds chance.

If you want to nail down Andrew Luck’s top receiver, though, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett are much more likely to remain with the team for multiple seasons. Their chances of being on the team next year are probably at 98% or 99%.

My best guess is Donte Moncrief is being groomed to be the Colts’ future #1 wide receiver. Phillip Dorsett is being groomed to be T.Y. Hilton’s replacement as the #2 wide receiver. Things could change if the negotiations go well, but if they break down, the Colts are prepared to move forward.

That in-and-of-itself means Hilton is likelier to move on to another NFL town. He’s had damned good numbers over his first 3 NFL seasons. All indications are his fourth will be just as good, if not better. If so, then NFL riches await him in free agency.

Conclusion

So if you asked “Who Is Andrew Luck’s Future #1 Receiver?” in 2016, 2017, and future years, I’d say it’s Donte Moncrief (#1), then Phillip Dorsett (#2), and T.Y. Hilton (#3). If you think Moncrief has offended the team somehow, then move him to #3 on the list and bump up the other guys. I see little sign of that, though the presence of Dorsett and Andre Johnson are enough to warrant concern.

It might be academic. Hilton and Moncrief are likely rostered in dynasty leagues already. If so, then draft Phillip Dorsett knowing you’re getting one of the top receivers for Andrew Luck over the next four NFL seasons.