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Fantasy Sleeper Alert: Nyheim Hines' Pass-Catching to Be 'Big Part' of Colts Offense

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 31, 2022

Nyheim Hines (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines could see his fantasy football value rise after the team's quarterback change from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan.

ESPN's Dan Graziano predicted Wednesday that Hines, whose role diminished last season as the Colts leaned more heavily on consensus No. 1 fantasy pick Jonathan Taylor, will match or exceed his previous career-high total of 63 catches in 2022.

"The Colts WANT Hines and his pass-catching ability to be a big part of what they do on offense, and they believe Matt Ryan won't be shy about finding him when the play calls for it," Graziano wrote.

Hines inability to emerge as a reliable fantasy asset last season came as a surprise after the franchise signed him to a three-year contract extension right before the 2021 season kicked off.

Here's a look at his production over the past two campaigns:

  • 2020: 380 rushing yards, 482 receiving yards, 7 total TDs in 16 games
  • 2021: 276 rushing yards, 310 receiving yards, 3 total TDs in 17 games

Based on Graziano's report, it appears the Colts are chalking up the dip in production to the "checkdown-averse" Wentz rather than any type of concern about Hines' abilities.

There are a few other factors working in the 25-year-old NC State product's favor, too.

First, Indianapolis will likely try to spell Taylor a little more in 2022. He led the NFL with 332 rushing attempts last season, and he's recorded 663 total touches over his first two seasons when counting both the regular season and the playoffs.

Second, if Taylor were to miss any time because of injury, Hines would be ticketed for a high-volume, three-down role that would make him a fringe top-10 fantasy back.

It gives Hines a lot of upside at his current Yahoo Sports average draft position of 126.1, which makes him the No. 47 running back off the board in the late 10th round of 12-team leagues.

In July, the backup rusher explained he saw how the offense was evolving under Ryan and he thought it would work in his favor.

"Based on what Matt sees or what Matt likes, there'll be a little bit different plays, a little bit of different wrinkles," Hines said. "I think some of those wrinkles will benefit me. I think Matt's gonna be a great commander and leader of this offense, and we all have trust in him. We've worked with him for eight weeks, and I'm already ready to run through a brick wall for him."

It all adds up to a potential bounce-back year from Hines, who could establish himself as an every-week flex play with some strong performances early in the season.

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