hilton again2

Perhaps I’m a little bit biased because I own T.Y. Hilton in a few leagues. Alright, maybe I’m really biased because I own T.Y. Hilton in a few leagues. But there was a noticeable absence during the Colts’ Week 1 win over Oakland that hopefully doesn’t continue into Week 2. Yes, that absence’s name is T.Y. Hilton. You’re seeing a theme here.

Hilton finished with only 20 yards on three receptions, a poor opening week showing which led to an average of 6.7 yards per catch, after he averaged 17.2 last year. In fairness, Colts pass catchers who weren’t named Reggie Wayne generally had a sub-par afternoon, with Wayne on the receiving end for over half of Andrew Luck’s total yardage (53.4 percent), and his 96 yards were well ahead of Darrius Heyward-Bey’s 33 yards.

We suspected that under new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton’s system which will emphasize two tight end sets, Hilton’s role could be reduced. Fine, but surely that reduction won’t mean he’ll be on the field less than a fullback.

Ummm, about that.

As the Colts continue preparing for a much tougher Miami defense, it’s troubling to think about what kind of Hilton we’ll see this week, mostly because looking back on the Hilton in Indy’s opener is a depressing experience.

His basic numbers (the 20 yards, the three catches) are concerning, but we can get past that by looking at the one year of history Hilton has provided, and acknowledging that wide receiver is a volatile week-to-week position for even the elites. Remember, we’re discussing the same receiver who had five games with 100 receiving yards or more during his rookie season (yay!) despite a moderate reception total of 50. He also had eight games with less than 40 yards (ughhh).

But there are two far more troubling numbers associated with the early Week 1 returns from Hilton. Mike Chappel from the Indianapolis Star reminded us of those dark digits:

Two numbers hit me as I scanned the playtime percentage chart provided by the NFL: 26 and 24.

Fullback Stanley Havili was on the field for 26 plays.

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton was on the field for 24 plays.

Yes, that’s a receiver of Hilton’s caliber who had 861 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his first season, and he was on the field less than a fullback.

Before we continue to go about the business of freaking the hell out, it’s important to note the overall lack of plays run by the Colts. Excluding two kneel downs, they ran just 51 plays. For some comical perspective, Chip Kelly’s warp speed led to 53 plays for his Eagles…in the first half.

Overall, that resulted in both the lowest single-game pass attempts (23) and passing yards (178) of Luck’s young career, more numbers that hint at hopefully an aberration week for Hilton. Yet those two digits above highlighted by Chappel still stand out, as if this becomes the trend as feared under Hamilton, and Hilton is hidden as the third receiver in favor of multiple tight ends, he won’t be given the opportunity to either explode or implode.

Instead, he’ll be given the opportunity to do very little.

More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness

Ruh roh, Mark Sanchez

Hey, remember this?

The Jets are so much more fun when their a steaming toxic mess. C’mon, Patriots, make things right tonight.

Mark Sanchez is awful. That is not a debatable scientific fact. But the importance of a quality backup also can’t be overstated when you’re starting a rookie quarterback. Yes, at this point in his career Sanchez still fits that description, and at the time of his injury when he was inexplicably on the field late in a preseason game and playing behind the second-team offensive line, he had pretty much won the starting job.

Now instead he’s in line to be carved up by a man who’s skilled with a knife. Sanchez will likely land on Dr. James Andrews’ operating table to repair a torn labrum, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, though his report was later refuted by the New York Post’s Brian Costello, who said rehab will continue to be the chosen path. Regardless, the season now seems lost for Sanchez, and for the Jets, yanking a raw rookie who will inevitably struggle is no longer an option.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

Le’Veon Bell (groan)

Later today I’ll pump out a more thorough injury rundown, which will be our regular Thursday practice as another week of glorious football begins. But for now, there’s a vital piece of hope crushing information you Le’Veon Bell owners should know: he’s probably going to be pretty useless to you for a long time still.

In late August and early September (see: the peak of fantasy draft season), there was optimism around Bell’s foot sprain that is maybe/almost definitely a Lisfranc injury, and they’re always unpredictable in nature. That understandably led to many pouncing on a discount, knowing that once he returns Bell will wear a cowbell for the Steelers. And indeed, there was a discount to be had, as a starting running back (at some point) was available around the 70th overall pick on average.

The problem with that shrewd drafting is it only means, well, anything if Bell is actually playing. According to a report last night from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that likely won’t happen for at least another month, which is a stark contrast to the recent hope he expressed about an appearance this weekend against the Bengals.

If Bell is indeed out for another month, that means you’ll be burning a roster spot on a player who will miss up to five games, and upon his return it’s difficult to know what we’ll get from a power running back who has suffered a major injury to his main source of drive.

He might not be jumping over other humans for a while…

bell jump

Hey Mike, can you stop throwing your body at opposing players? Thanks

As fantasy folk, Michael Vick blocking is the sort of thing that leads to objects thrown a televisions. It’s clear that if he stays healthy, Vick has an opportunity to post some fine numbers in Chip Kelly’s new whizz-bang offense, and he’s had enough difficulty with that when he’s just asked to do normal quarterback things. Toss in some random blocking — which Vick did several times against the Redskins, mostly when LeSean McCoy found a cut back lane — and the opportunity for injury increases.

But that’s where we arrive at another chasm between fantasy football and real football. Vick’s coaches know that having their fragile quarterback blocking downfield isn’t a good look, and so do his teammates. Both Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have asked if he could kindly cut it out, thanks. But as Vick himself says, flicking off that competitive switch in a very specific situation isn’t easy.

Simply put, Vick is seeing an opportunity to contribute, and he’s not willing to stand there idly, doing nothing.

“I try not to do it but just the way we run the read option sometimes the ball gets cut back and I’m standing there, and I’m not going to let my teammate get hit by a guy,” said Vick. “Maybe I’ll just get in the way next time and just try to wall him off.”

That sounds like a fine strategy and a happy middle ground, Mike. Let’s try that.

Goodell’s stance on the Washington football team’s name softens

Roger Goodell’s stance on the Redskins name has often been a soft one, but he’s still been in favor of the status quo. Even when he defended the name in a letter to congress, he conceded that it’s a “complex issue”, and of course when complex issues are explored, minds can be changed.

It appears that could be happening. With his soft stance shifting in the other direction, here’s what Goodell said in a radio interview yesterday:

“I think what we have to do though is we have to listen. If one person is offended, we have to listen.”

Well, there will be more than one person protesting both Washington’s team name and choice of mascot Sunday prior to their game in Green Bay. Members of the Oneida Nation will be expressing their displeasure with the misuse of Native American imagery, and the slur that we use to refer to a football team.

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

“The warrior image is not the image we want to be portrayed,” said Brandon Stevens, an Oneida Nation elected official. “We’ve moved past the time of Western encroachment and how the West was won, and that’s where all the images are taken from — when we were a valiant enemy.”

Eventually, common sense will prevail here, and years from now we’ll be embarrassed. But realistically, there’s only one motivating factor that registers in Dan Snyder’s brain: money. If fans are still buying tickets and team merchandise with that name in place, his level of caring will be below zero.