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Price Check: Stephen Hill


As fantasy football owners, we’re often shortsighted. It’s our nature. ‘What have you done for me lately’ is one of the most important phrases when it comes to building a team and evaluating who needs to be traded or ditched. Players like Ryan Mathews transition from a primary trade target and dynasty building block to a player who commands the equivalent of trash in trade negotiations in the matter of one season. It all comes down to not wanting to be stuck with a lemon when the music stops. No one wants a useless asset.

This can be a viable mentality, but it can also lead to premature devaluation. In particular, this appears to happen most frequently with injured players. Another group victimized is second year players who struggled as rookies. We all know rookies are premium dynasty assets. Fantasy owners stumble to the to the auction block in an effort to acquire the next big thing. In doing so, we pay a significant premium in hopes of hitting on the next stud. If that doesn’t happen and the rookie struggles in year one, owners flee – they don’t want to be stuck with little or no value.

At times, it’s justified and the player never succeeds (see Troy Williamson, Reggie Williams), but there is one receiver in particular who’s currently being traded at a discount – Stephen Hill, wide receiver of the New York Jets.

Not more than a year ago, Hill was drafted in the top eight in rookie drafts. He was viewed as a developmental player with a tremendous ceiling. That ceiling hasn’t changed a year later as he’s still a raw prospect, but given deals executed across dynasty leagues (i.e., Knowshon Moreno and the 4.6 rookie selection for Hill or a mid-second round rookie pick for Hill), it appears many owners believe he’s already failed. Some fantasy outlets still have Hill holding a receiver rank in the 50’s which is consistent with his rookie year ranking, but that doesn’t appear to apply to market value across dynasty leagues. Simply put, not many people are looking to acquire him.

Given what we knew about Hill coming into the NFL, his rookie season struggles, other comparable historical rookie season struggles, and the Jets offensive situation, we need to re-evaluate how we perceive Hill and his potential. We’re potentially knocking Hill’s value too much given the circumstances.

It’s time for a price check.

Pre-Draft Measurables

We all saw Hill’s monster performance back at the Combine in 2012 when his draft stock vaulted. As a refresher, here are his  Combine measurables:

  • 6’4” 215 pounds
  • 4.36 40-year dash
  • 6.88 3 cone
  • 39.5 vertical
  • 11’1” broad
  • 4.48 short shuttle

These numbers left many expecting a Demaryius Thomas type of player. It doesn’t appear many have that same expectation after Hill’s struggles as a rookie. There’s no question his measurables are top notch, but the concern was and is that he’s a workout warrior and, therefore, a developmental prospect who may never pan out.

We KNEW Hill was raw

The fact that Hill was raw was not a surprise. All articles or Twitter exchanges regarding the rookie included a reference to the fact that he needed time to develop (i.e., “raw” or “developmental prospect”). After all, he was coming from Georgia Tech’s triple option offense, which is run first. In his college career, Hill only had 49 total catches – that’s 49 catches in three college seasons. In his final year as a Junior, Hill only had 28 catches for 820 yards. He was a big play specialist who fed off the triple-option running game. Coming out of an offense like that, it was known Hill needed time to develop his route tree and football IQ given the limited amount of passing game experience he possessed.

Hill isn’t the only Georgia Tech alum who struggled as a rookie. Some attribute Demaryius Thomas’ sub-par rookie season in 2010 to his college offensive scheme. Ultimately, these receivers don’t get the same preparation and aren’t able to refine their pass catching and route running skills in this type of offense which is centered around run blocking. Many receivers are limited to go routes and NFL receivers need a lot more route tree development than that.

Why then a year later are most surprised or down on Hill since he didn’t have a stellar rookie season?

Rookie Receivers have struggled before

Hill is not the first rookie receiver to need time before his career trajectory were decided. Here are some notable players who are currently viewed as studs who struggled as rookies:






Catch %



Stephen Hill








Demaryius Thomas








Brandon Marshall








Roddy White








As you can see, Hill’s rookie year is comparable to some pretty solid receivers. Each had a steep learning curve as NFL rookies due to their respective college programs and/or their immature football ability. They needed time to understand how to harness their ridiculous natural ability.

To be clear on the purpose of the above, it’s not meant to suggest Hill is going to pan out like these other three have, but it highlights what we need to be reminded of – Hill is not the only rookie receiver to ever struggle.

Is 2012 Hill’s fault?

Hill’s rookie season struggles weren’t entirely his fault. There were a number of hurdles he faced.

Physically, Hill’s year was peppered with nagging injuries. He missed five games over the course of the year with hamstring and knee issues. He also played several games where he missed snaps because of them – these injuries prevented Hill from seeing consistent snaps throughout the season, which may have stunted his development. However, after minor knee surgery following the 2012 season, Hill claims his knee is 100% and he’ll be ready for off-season activities.

Potentially the most important factor, the Jets 2012 quarterback play was atrocious. It’s overanalyzed at this point, but Mark Sanchez was horrible. He was inaccurate, unconfident, and sub-par. There’s not much more to say, but clearly Sanchez did him no favors in 2012 and his performance had a direct impact.

Additionally, there was a lot happening for Hill in his rookie year including the media circus. He recently confirmed that when he said he was a bit lost in his rookie year. Maybe Hill was a bit more forthright than the typical player, but you often hear second guys discuss how they need to catch up and get accustomed to the NFL speed. They don’t literally mean running or quickness speed, but the information flow and the technique required to succeed at the professional level. This is on him and his natural ability, but again stresses we need to reserve judgment on Hill at this point


While there were many things working against Hill in 2012 and his measurables are dynamite, not all is rosy.

Most significantly, Hill struggled catching the ball, amassing six drops in roughly 420 snaps. According to ProFootballFocus.com, his drop rate of catchable balls was 22% – that ranks worst among players with more than 40 targets on the season. On a per snap basis, his drop percentage ranked fourth worst in the NFL in 2012. That number is simply unacceptable and indicative of a player who needs to spend more time working the Jugs machine. It also highlights Hill’s concentration issues. Acknowledging that the drops are a concern, what’s interesting is that Hill takes a fantasy value beating for it, but someone like TY Hilton is actually comparable in this statistic, but that’s rarely brought up.

Secondly, Hill catches the ball with his body too often. At least he did in his rookie season. He did improve that later on in the year if you take a look at his catch timeline shown below. It’s something to watch in his off-season development to see if it results in an increase in catches away from his body given that the majority of successful NFL receiver receivers catch this way.

[vsw id=”Z-deAYMziEA” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]

A rookie quarterback in New York isn’t necessarily going to help, either, but anything has to be better than Sanchez, right? Even if the numbers aren’t there, we should still be able to evaluate Hill for an improvement in route running and pass catching consistency.


Hill’s rookie season was disappointing, but we need to put things in perspective. He’s only 22 years old headed into 2013 – that’s younger than some incoming rookies. He also struggled like we expected him to. We knew he’d take a few years before we would be able to pass final judgment. While he was purchased and sold at a premium prior to the 2012 season, Hill is a second year player with deflated value headed into 2013. He’s a worthy target given his price and the potential he possess to be both a playmaker and a primary red zone target.

Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveWyremski

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  1. Chris R.

    June 4, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Great article, premise is basically the same in dynasty throughout. People draft guys as raw players with huge upside, but if they don’t produce in year 1 they sell them off for cheap pieces as throw in deals or lose interest completely. Guys like him may not even truly breakout until year 3, but I’ve recently learned to stop targeting these guys as rookies. They almost always come cheaper in the years to come then they do at draft time.

    There was a lot wrong in NY, and they were having to rely on Hill as the #1 target which was a recipe for failure anyway. He may not be a guy you’re going into the season relying on, but he’s a strong hold that you need to see 2-3 years before giving him away.

  2. Preston

    June 4, 2013 at 6:52 am

    Chris agree in premise, but I would offer that Hill did way worse than most every rookie that is touted to have his kind of talent. Take away the 1st game, and the final 10 games of his season he posted 16 catches on 41 targets (39%), 163 yards, and 1 TD. Not saying he doesn’t have talent, but I think he is different from other even raw rookies in that his season was historically poor. Sanchez was bad, but that didn’t say stop Jeremy Kerley from having his best season ever, so I’m not sure Hill really has that excuse.

    I do, however, like your idea of passing on those guys in drafts and planning to go get them later. That does seem to be an intriguing idea that if done correctly could net you some nice value.

  3. Steve

    June 4, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Another thing a lot of people forget is that the Jets – Sanchez, Hill and Co. were basically operating without an Offensive Coordinator…
    Tony Sparano according to many just didn’t have a system, didn’t have proper game plan, didn’t call plays properly and didn’t make adjustments… It’s not like we’re sitting here nitpicking Norv Turner as an OC – Sparano just doesn’t belong in the same sentence at all…

    As a jets fan ppl ask me about Hill and My answer this offseason has been “I need to hear what he did this Offseason” – recently we heard he Stayed at the Jets complex, Rehabbed, worked out and worked on the new offense – THAT is what you want to hear B/C if you hear anything less from a WR that needs so much work, he’s Dead to me… Hill is ALIVE… He’s saying the right things, has an OC and a B/U QB with potential as well…

    • SJ

      June 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

      I mean, do we ever really know what players do in the offseason?

      Its really just based off of track record, and rookies or second year guys dont really have one. No one hears much from A.Rodgers, AP, R.Rice, etc about their work in the offseason but always about these fringe production players trying to create buzz.

      You can hear all the hype, articles about how a guy looks good in workouts, or has studied the playbook and met with teammates and coaches, and is in the best shape of his life, so on and so on, but we dont really know.

      All the coachspeack, hype and generous news reporting is meant to make stories but its not really great at determining what Player A can do that season.

      Just put faith in what you make of the player in the first place and use the hype to get a player youre more certain about later – or just take the plunge. I guess thats the whole fun factor in Fantasy anyway

  4. ChiefsHonk

    June 4, 2013 at 8:10 am

    He has the specs of an athletic project but when I watch him play he doesn’t look that athletic honestly. He has chicken legs and his lower legs especially don’t look really strong or coordinated. They look rubbery and duck footed. I think his body moves faster than his brain. He would be best served on a team with 2 really good Wideouts and he was a #3 with no pressure and could have 3-4 designed plays for him every game.

    • thekidcreol

      June 4, 2013 at 8:28 am

      you don’t have an almost 40 inch vertical with weak,” chicken legs” agree he needs to fill out more but given he is only 21 not sure why anyone would think that isn’t going to happen he can add 10 pounds of muscle easily on that frame(and some in legs) and not lose any speed…time will tell and we will learn alot shortly about all the offseason work.

  5. thekidcreol

    June 4, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Good article, I took a lot of heat keeping Hill after cut down in my league but I believe in this kid. Number one he has a what seems to be a good head on his shoulders(he made a couple of punk statement early last year but that seems to have faded). 2) He is a hard worker…he knows he is raw he knows he needs to catch body away from his body…he worked on this the entire offseason at Jets complex catching hundreds of balls a day….this is very encouraging IMO and exactly what you want to see from him. 3) His skill set is freakish not sure I would compare to D Thomas as he is much more beefy but more like Randy Moss that size speed combo is rare

    my biggest concern is his health actually seems to get nicked up easliy which is concerning, would like to see him up at 220 but he has a chance to have a sick career IMO

    For this year I want to see him healthy for 16 games and a big move forward than breakout in year 3 is very real and probable he is totally a buy low at this point and should be targeted.

  6. CokeAndBacardi

    June 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Good write up but Hill had 4 drops last year. I know drops are subjective but PFF is an unreliable source. Their definition seems to be “a pass that falls incomplete within 5 yards of the receiver”. They had Welker with 11 drops a year or two ago when I didn’t think he had any… Went back and reviewed the tape and saw blatant over throws and defended passes called drops.

    I bought Hill around the trade deadline and gave up Olsen.

  7. SJ

    June 4, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Yeah, there’s always a few 2nd year receiver guys who’ve struggled and come at a discount the following year. This year is no different and guys like: Hill, Jeffery, Jenkins, Randle, Quick, Sanu, Toon, Graham, Broyles, Jones, Brazill, are all on the radar.

    They make decent targets, its just targeting the right ones, being patient enough (and getting them cheaply enough) to make it worth your while. Sometimes these players never pan out, so the risk/reward is always debatable.

    • Steve Wyremski

      June 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

      The difference with Quick and Hill is that we knew both were going to take time to develop, but now they’re discounted because of a sub-par rookie year.

      Jenkins, Randle, Brazil, and Graham for example may be a bit more justified. The others for the most part seem to follow the injury discount mentality.

      • SJ

        June 4, 2013 at 10:59 am

        Thats fair, but really I think all those WR’s could be discounted to some degree and longterm expectations could be up in the air for each of them.

        None of them are without blemishes and question marks, and to whatever degree were expected to produce more their rookie year.

        Jeffery and Hill had the leg-up because they were “starters” with certain playing time, but its debatable which will develop the best of any of them

      • SJ

        June 4, 2013 at 11:04 am

        I guess the point of the article is not to lump in players we know are developmental, with the players who strait-out dont live up to expectations in year one.

        I just dont know if that makes sense, because is their learning curve more justified than the norm?

        Fair argument…

        • Steve Wyremski

          June 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

          I think it is, yes. Similar to a player coming from a small school.

          I certainly agree with your view that 2nd year rookies who struggled are targets as well, I’d just prefer to bet on a developmental guy who had a much steeper leaning curve. A more justified year off, if you will.

          With Hill in particular, there is a bit more at play though with the rough injury and horrible situation in NY. I think he’s a special case this offseason.

  8. VoiceofUnreason

    June 4, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Again, Hill is compared to Thomas. Thomas was hurt a lot of his first year and on the bench for a lot of the rest.

    Most guys struggle because they can’t get on the field. This guy just wasn’t very good. Name some guys who had lots of opportunity and put up 250 yards then went on to be good. That’s a realistic comparison.

    • Steve Wyremski

      June 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

      I don’t see why 250 yards is a bright line. It has no relevance other than it was Hill’s number for 2012. Brandon Marshall had a very similar rookie season playing more games.

      If Hill were 100% healthy, the Jets weren’t a mess in ’12, and he had more than 50 college catches, I would agree with your Hill assessment given his opportunities. Unfortunately, those additional factors were in play.

      • VoiceofUnreason

        June 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

        When you are given the chance to start from day 1 and can’t hit 300 yards, that’s bad. Marshall being active and watching the game from the bench is another pretty apples to oranges comparison.

        But for me, the other players all looked the part and showed something. I can understand someone liking Hill but I don’t see it so I’m not investing in him. I just don’t see any football skills.

        • stevewyremski

          June 5, 2013 at 6:04 am

          Not sure I agree it’s apples to oranges as Hill’s snaps/games include multiple games (at least 2 and possibly 3) where he played with a noticeable limp. He shouldn’t have been on the field. He couldn’t push off at the line or plant on his routes and often just collapsed when trying run a route. However and for what reason I have no idea, he continued to be put out on the field.

          I don’t consider that a failure/lack of production. His knee and hamstring were visually a hindrance in those games and who knows how many others where it wasn’t as apparent.

          Will be interesting to see what happens in ’13 if he’s healthy for the full season. If he struggles when healthy, I’ll jump on board with you, but I’m not ready to do that after a mess of a rookie year.

      • Preston

        June 5, 2013 at 5:37 am

        Seems like his 250 yards has more relevance than it just being his numbers for 2012. If he had gone for 100 catches and 1400 yards, would you have said that has no relevance in predicting that he might be good in the future? It should just be used as an indicator, and not a rigid outlook, but should be taken into account I think.

        I don’t think we should pigeon hole him into being a 250 yard type of WR, however, but I think it does have relevance when looking at his future.

        • stevewyremski

          June 5, 2013 at 6:08 am

          I was more referring to the fact that he was setting a bright line at “name someone with 250 yards or less”. I don’t understand why that versus 350 is the bright line.

          Certainly his rookie season production is something to be considered and it is. He struggled and that’s acknowledged. However, as detailed in the article above, there were a number of factors (most notably his injuries, lack of route running experience in college, and Sanchez) that contributed to that. These, in aggregate, are exceptional circumstances that few rookie receivers suffer through in a rookie year.

          • Preston

            June 5, 2013 at 9:18 am

            Ah, I see, good point, and I agree. It is true he acknowledged his struggles, so at least he recognizes a need to vastly improve. That’s a good sign. Like always, good stuff Steve, thanks for responding to comments.

  9. David

    June 4, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I have both Jeffery and Hill. 18 rosters spots. Non-ppr with 3 WR starter requirement. I will have to drop one of them after the draft. Leaning towards dropping Hill but this article has given me pause. Your thoughts?

    • Eric Tate

      June 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      I’d drop Hill. Jeffrey has a more developed resume (compare their ACC stats), a better offensive coach, a better QB, and will never see a double team as long as Marshall is healthy.

      • Steve Wyremski

        June 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm


        • dkfriday

          June 5, 2013 at 5:03 am

          Thanks Eric and Steve.

      • smcguiga

        June 5, 2013 at 6:18 am

        Hill more upside but you have to keep Jeffrey as he could be a WR2 for a long time starting even next year…much more a sure thing

  10. S. Curtis

    June 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I really enjoyed the article. I appreciate the argument made for Mr. Hill.
    Everyone that claims “they watched the tape” (not referring to this post) are leaving out some very important details regarding Mr. Hill’s 2012 season.

    This dude can block like you wouldn’t believe. I love watching him square up and explode into the OLB’s. He was beat by some veteran tricks, but who hasn’t when playing any sport? His blocking will earn him playing time – No question. He will get better (he’s already shown the ability to “LEARN” to block = teachable).

    Can he run a route precisely?… not so well. He tends to round his routes, or stutter step to a near stop. He doesn’t attack the football in the air like his size might suggest. His only comfort zone seamed to be the go route. Still, he didn’t track the football like most thought he would. I believe this craft can be taught.

    I want to like him, but he could just be another Jon Baldwin. He’s pry gonna get better, but never realize his true potential (WR1). With that said, I can’t trust any Jet as long as Rex Ryan is their coach. How in the hell could Rex call him mini-megatron or whatever nickname he gave him then? Add some more pressure on the 21 yr old. Instead of inspiring his youth, Rex demoralizes them. Even though his value will not be lower for the next couple years, I’ll pass!

  11. Geewhizkid

    June 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Great article. Anyone in a dynasty league who valuates a WR based on their rookie season has fog on the brain. I am in a 14 team PPR, IDP that can start 2 QBs and 4 WRs with flex. In 2012 I got Blackmon at 1.06 and Hill at 1.14. Hill was the 6th WR off the board in the 1st round. After extensive evaluation, I had Hill rated as my #2 rookie WR on MY board. Jeffrey was # 5 on my board and went 1.15.

    After the draft chat revealed that Hill slipped because he was drafted by the Jets. Those in my league that draft for situation rather than talent (or perceived upside) are non-trophy holders. I was stoked to get him and was more than willing to wait 2, 3 or 4 years to prove my choice. Patience and trust in your draft picks are most often proven to be the best strategy rather than a knee-jerk reaction on a rookie year WR’s performance.

    It wasn’t that long ago when rookie WRs took 3 years to get on the field for 5 snaps a game.

    Some rookie WRs become evident busts early. I know. I took Devin Thomas and Mike Williams (the DET bust languishing on the roster bubble in Seattle) in 1st round in past drafts. But I stuck with my decision and let them ride pine for 3 years.

    Do I think Hill is going to nut kick me like they did. No. But he might. In the meantime, he stays on my roster. Tune in later.

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