The 5-3 Indianapolis Colts are one of the surprise teams in the National Football League in 2012, due in large part to the fact that every time a player has been felled by injury another has stepped into his spot and performed, whether it's linebacker Jerrell Freeman or running back Vick Ballard.
The same thing happened in last week's victory over the Miami Dolphins. When wide receiver Donnie Avery was forced from the game with a hip injury, rookie T.Y. Hilton stepped in and stepped up, hauling in six catches for 102 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown that the youngster from Florida International told Phillip Wilson of The Indianapolis Star atoned for an earlier miscue.
"I bounced up right away and ran back to the huddle and said, 'My fault. I gotcha on the next one,'" he told quarterback Andrew Luck. "I had to make a play," he said of the score. "I had to make up for the one earlier. And I was ready."
Hilton has been carving out a larger role for himself in the Indianapolis offense. According to KFFL Hilton has been targeted at least five times in each of the Colts' past three games, including a team-high 12 targets in Week 9, but Hilton may need to be ready for an even larger role against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
Avery practiced in full on Tuesday on Wednesday and appears set to be active against the Jaguars this week, but with the fifth-year veteran likely to be limited by his injured hip, Hilton could easily see his most extensive action of the season.
That should come as music to the ears of fantasy owners dealing with the loss of the likes of Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
This isn't to say that Hilton is without risk. It would be a lot easier to start Hilton with confidence in fantasy leagues were Avery sidelined, but since that isn't the case there's no telling how much Avery will play or how much that could potentially cut into Hilton's opportunities for production.
With that said, however, Andrew Luck has demonstrated that he's not afraid to throw to Hilton. The youngster has at least five catches in each of his last two games, and the Jaguars are in the top half of the NFL in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers.
Not the best situation imaginable, but you could do a lot worse.
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