Tyreek Hill: A True Stud Wide Receiver and Elite Dynasty Asset

Zachary Wilkens

Let me describe a player. Yes, it’s the same player who this article is about, but try to forget about that and all your preconceived notions about him for a moment.

This player has elite speed (he ran a 4.25 40-yard dash at his Pro Day) and has scored 12 and eight touchdowns in his two seasons of play in the NFL. He put up 1,343 yards from scrimmage in 16 games played last year (including one playoff game) with 82 receptions.

The player in question had 50+ yards from scrimmage in 12 of those 16 games, so he isn’t the ‘low floor’ player he has been called. He had 50+ in each of the last eight games he played last season. Even if you split his season in half, he was a top ten fantasy receiver in weeks 1-8 and weeks 9-17. He’s only 24 this season.

That is a pretty incredible dynasty asset, worthy of first round consideration, right?

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Instead, Tyreek Hill is going at the end of the second round with an ADP of 23. Among DLF Top 200 rankers (excluding myself – I am highest on him at 14), he matches his ADP with a ranking of 23rd. He’s definitely seen as a major asset but in my view, it’s not enough. Hill represents a fantastic bargain despite being among the first two rounds of a dynasty startup draft. That is not an easy thing to find in the early rounds!

To start, let’s acknowledge Hill’s checkered past. He was an electric utility player in his lone FBS season at Oklahoma State with three return touchdowns as well as 815 yards from scrimmage and a rushing/receiving touchdown each. However, he was dismissed from the team following a domestic violence arrest before the team’s bowl game in 2014.

It was a particularly gruesome case, where Hill reportedly beat and strangled his pregnant girlfriend. Perhaps this case still lingers in the minds of some dynasty players and I could hardly blame these people. It’s a tough thing to consider. I think Mina Kimes said it best in a truly exceptional article on Tyreek:

“Hill’s past is a permanent part of his story, and it should be mentioned every time his life and character are discussed. His efforts to redeem himself are also part of that story. Someday, they could become the most important part.”

It happened and that has to be acknowledged. He’s also played two full seasons without incident, and by all accounts has taken every measure to learn and better himself. So from a dynasty perspective, at this point, I don’t use it to devalue him at all.

Going back to the player himself, you might argue he is devalued in PPR formats because of his use as a utility player. However, the stats reveal a player who had five or more receptions in ten of his 15 regular season games. That was tied with Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green and Golden Tate for the ninth-highest rate of such games. That’s darn good company and I don’t think any of those players are viewed as potential downgrades in PPR format. It’s true, he’s not catching 90 balls like the best of that group, but he’s also not Brandin Cooks (65 recs) or Marvin Jones (61 recs), the lowest totals among those with 1,000 receiving yards.

Hill’s dominant 2017 campaign was built far more off of his stats solely as a receiver. He added just 59 rushing yards without a TD and just one return touchdown. In his rookie season he added 267 rush yards, three rush TDs and three return TDs. Return TDs are harder to come by but I do think there is a good chance he can improve his rushing totals in 2018. In 2016, he added at least one fantasy point solely due to his ground totals in eight of 16 games. Last year that happened just three times.

The next important consideration is the quarterback change. Hill’s success thus far has come with Alex Smith at the helm. A big reason for this was Smith’s sudden emergence as an excellent deep-ball passer. Per Pro Football Focus, Smith led the league in yards, touchdowns and passer rating on deep passes (20+ yards downfield). Now Patrick Mahomes will take over.

We got a single start from Mahomes at the end of the season. Unfortunately, Tyreek Hill did not play in that game but it was enough for Andy Reid and the front office to be comfortable moving Alex Smith and handing the keys over to Mahomes in his second season. Mahomes has a big-time arm and figures to be a more aggressive passer than Alex Smith was for the Chiefs. Even with Smith’s deep ball success in 2017, I think this raises Hill’s ceiling while probably also lowering his floor a bit. Furthermore for dynasty purposes, having Hill paired with an exciting young franchise QB is only a positive in my eyes.

The biggest concern with Hill for 2018 and beyond is not at all related to his abilities. Rather, it’s the signing of Sammy Watkins to a big contract. Watkins’ three-year, $48-million deal is top ten in both guaranteed money and average dollars per year. Despite the fact that Sammy Watkins has been pretty mediocre over the past two seasons – he put up just 593 rec yards in his lone year with the Rams and ranked as the 41st WR in Pro Football Focus’s grades – it’s hard to argue that Sammy is going to be paid so much and not a significant part of the offense. Last year Tyreek had 105 targets and no other WR had more than Albert Wilson’s 62. Wilson is gone but if Sammy stays healthy he is sure to easily surpass 62 targets.

The Chiefs did finish just 17th in pass attempts and 24th in total plays, so there is room for improvement there. To get Sammy to 85+ targets though, you probably have to cut into Tyreek’s total, as opposed to Travis Kelce or Kareem Hunt. Let’s say Tyreek loses 10 targets, down to 95 this season. I think he can recoup some of that via added rushing and maybe an extra return TD this year. Even then we are talking about a player who was WR5 in PPG. I have a very hard time seeing him fall below a low-end WR1 this season. To which some of you are saying “Oh! But his dynasty ADP is WR11 so that makes sense.”

Of course, this being dynasty, a lot more should go into a player’s value than just his 2018 season forecast. Tyreek is 24 years old this season. He sits behind 30-year-old A.J. Green, whom he already soundly outscored. He sits behind 24-year-old Amari Cooper, who was WR32 this past year and WR16 in his best season. I understand Cooper was an elite prospect, but after three seasons of play, it’s nuts to me that Cooper’s value is still riding off of his prospect status. At the very least, Tyreek has to be ahead of those two and you can make a case for the next three WRs in ADP as well (Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, Davante Adams) though at that point I would say it is personal preference.

If you have the opportunity to grab him at the end of the second in a startup, you should be drooling over the idea. In addition to the WRs mentioned above, I’d also take him over a handful of RBs going ahead of him – Joe Mixon, Melvin Gordon, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey.

In my current June startup mock comprised entirely of DLF staff, I grabbed Hill at 23. I have him ranked 14th and would have been happy to take him in the early second if that is where my pick fell. He’s already showcased himself as a nearly complete receiver with elite speed. On top of that, he is one of the more versatile WRs with an ability to run the ball while also being one of the best return men in the game. He has an extremely high ceiling and while his floor may be a little lower this season, I believe any perception that Hill is boom or bust is false as demonstrated by his very high number of 50-yards-from-scrimmage games.

Tyreek Hill is a special talent and I want him on all my dynasty teams!