Fantasy Football draft debate T.Y. Hilton vs. Doug Baldwin

T.Y. Hilton posted a career-high 1,448 receiving yards in 2016. But can he do it again in 2017? Fanalysts, Liz Loza and Dalton Del Don debate. 

In this week’s version of Spin Doctors, fantasy MDs Liz Loza and Dalton Del Don examine the merits of T.Y. Hilton and Doug Baldwin. Loza gives the edge to the Seahawk. While, 3D, is hot for Hilton. Which WR are you more likely to roster? Peruse their perspectives and then add your own thoughts in the comments section below.

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Del Don taps T.Y.: To be clear, I agreed to this before the recent news about Andrew Luck possibly starting the season on the PUP list. If that really comes true, I’ll be lowering Hilton in my rankings. I’m also a big Doug Baldwin fan. He’s legit. But as is, I’d take Hilton ahead of him in drafts with no hesitation. He led the NFL in receiving yards last season with 1,448 and was #2 in Air Yards (7.1 p/tgt). Hilton is 28 years old entering his prime on an offense with a poor defense, a shaky RB group and few legitimate threats to take away targets among wide receivers, so he’s in a prime position with an elite QB throwing to him.

Over the last three seasons, Hilton has averaged 81 catches for 1,306 receiving yards and six touchdowns. A.J. Green has averaged 1,101 yards over that span (with 6.7 touchdowns). Just check out these Hilton highlights from last year. He’s a stud. And I can’t remember a wide receiver who led the NFL in yards not getting drafted as a top-five fantasy wideout the year after. Baldwin plays for a Seattle team that hasn’t finished in the top half of the league in pass attempts since 2010. If Luck is healthy, Hilton has the upside to return first round overall fantasy value.

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Loza banters in favor of Baldwin: Two No. 1 receivers, each under 6-feet-tall, tied to elite QBs who are working behind suspect o-lines. Baldwin and Hilton sure do have a lot in common. So why am I higher on Baldwin? Because he’s the more trusted asset and better technician.

Admittedly, Baldwin’s spikes regressed in 2016, but the offense took on a new look with Russell Wilson hobbled for much of the season. It’s telling that even with Jimmy Graham on the field for fifteen starts, Baldwin’s red zone opportunities decreased by just one. Looked-to nearly eight times per contest (and commanding over 21 percent of targets lobbed from 20 yards out), Baldwin hauled in a career-high number of catches (94) and yards (1,128), making him a top-ten fantasy producer in back-to-back campaigns.

Additionally impressive is Baldwin’s ability to separate, as evidenced by his SEP average of 3.1, which was the highest of any WR last year. While he may not have elite speed or strength, Baldwin’s ability to get – and stay – open is staggering. As is his vice-like grip on the ball. Closing out 2016 with the fourth best catch rate in the league (75.2 percent), Baldwin is Mr. Reliability, which should help to secure his target volume for many seasons to come.

Admittedly, Hilton is also ultra-consistent. After all, he’s surpassed 1,000 yards for four straight seasons. And, to his credit, in 2016 he hauled in a career-high 91 balls. However, his volume was inflated by Donte Moncrief’s seven-game absence. In fact, Hilton averaged nearly two more catches per game when Moncrief was out than when both receivers were on the field. The additions of Jack Doyle and Erik Swoope should also negatively affect Hilton’s opportunities in 2017. Plus, the murkiness surrounding Andrew Luck’s shoulder don’t help his cause.

The safer bet – with more touchdown upside – is clearly Doug Baldwin.

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Follow our fearless forecasters on twitter, Liz (@LizLoza_FF) and Dalton (@daltondeldon).