Tyreek Hill was the eighth best wide receiver in fantasy football last season. He was able to surpass almost everyone’s expectations by putting up lofty stats – 75 catches for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns. But expecting him to repeat these numbers in 2018 would be a reach.
First of all, it’s important to understand the way in which Hill achieved his success. A closer look at Hill’s yardage reveals that he caught a deep ball (at least 35 yards) in nine of 16 games played. In other words, he was highly dependent on chunk plays and deep balls to get his numbers.
For instance, in Week 9, Hill had two catches for 64 yards and a 56-yard touchdown. Without that one big play, he would have yielded fantasy owners a putrid one catch, for eight yards. This pattern repeated itself throughout 2017. Another example was in Week 15, when he hauled in five catches, 88 yards and a TD. Most of those numbers were inflated by a 64-yard touchdown bomb. Once again, without that single play, his stat line would have read four catches for 22 scoreless yards.
There were many cases like this for Hill in 2017. And while we all love the big plays, they are highly unsustainable in the long-run. Let’s face it. Hill is not a dependable option. At this point in his career, his route tree is highly limited, which makes him a liability any time he doesn’t cash in on one of those deep passes. The Chiefs tend to look toward their other playmakers in order to keep the chains moving. Between Travis Kelce and second-year running back Kareem Hunt, Hill will likely continue to be the second or third options in those types of situations.
Moreover, the Chiefs offense is currently a mystery with a new quarterback leading the way. While second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes provides excitement and promise to the team, he will surely endure some growing pains in his first extended NFL action.
Hill’s 2017 season benefited from having experience with former Chiefs QB Alex Smith. They clearly understood each other, and were on the same page on those deep passes. Their mutual timing was also meticulous. These plays will be more difficult to complete in 2018. It will certainly be interesting to see if the team can continue to cash in on Hill’s world-class track speed, in the same way the Alex Smith was able to do so consistently last season.
In the end, there is obvious upside when it comes to Tyreek the Freak. But there is also a great deal of risk this year. Particularly when considering that his draft price is sky high coming off of last season. For me, it’s simply too much to pay, for someone who has too many question marks prior to the start of the season. A part of fantasy football is about not being blinded by what is referred to as recency bias. In other words, it’s important to analyze the full picture, and not get lost in what a player has done recently.