We’ve heard it for a few years now: TY Hilton is very good, but he’s extremely inconsistent. Those same critics have said that he’ll never be a top 10 receiver in the NFL because of his inconsistency. So, the question that needs to be asked is if Hilton is truly an “inconsistent” player. What does inconsistent mean in this context?

You measure consistency in the NFL by comparing one player to multiple players. There isn’t necessarily a benchmark variance number or range for a particular player’s stats, but we can determine whether a player is more consistent than another player. For the sake of this experiment, I’ll compare TY Hilton’s stats to four of the best receivers in the NFL.

By being able to compare Hilton to the top receivers, who are considered to be “consistent” players by those same critics and by the large majority of fans, we’ll be able to determine if Hilton is an “inconsistent” player. If we determine that Hilton is more consistent than some or all of the top receivers, then it will be hard to make a case that Hilton is an “inconsistent” player. To be clear, I’m not making the case that Hilton is a more talented or better receiver than the four top receivers listed.

**TY Hilton’s Numbers**

**The Best Receiver’s Numbers**

Let’s look at how Hilton’s consistency matches up to the best receivers in the league. Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, AJ Green and Odell Beckham’s numbers were evaluated. I specifically chose elite receivers with at least a few full seasons under their belt and who have played with the same quarterback for the majority of their careers.

*Stats were calculated before Week 16

**What Do These Numbers Tell Us?**

To determine the consistency of a player, we look at 3 measures: the variance, the range and how much the mean (average) and the median (middle number of the ordered set) differ.

The variance measures how far a set of numbers are spread out from their mean. A large figure signifies that the dataset is not close together, which is a sign of inconsistent play. A small figure signifies that the dataset is close together, which is a sign of consistent play.

The range is the difference between the maximum value of the data set and the minimum value of the data set. A high number indicates a large range, whereas a low number indicates a small range. A large range indicates there’s a certain amount of inconsistency in the dataset, whereas a small range indicates more consistency.

The mean is the average of the dataset and the median is the middle number of the ordered set. The mean can be heavily influenced by outliers, whereas a median is not (at least not to the same degree), so if there’s a substantial difference between both numbers, then that means that there are outliers in the dataset, which is a sign of inconsistent play. If the numbers are identical or very close together, then that means that there are no outliers in the dataset, which is a sign of consistent play.

**Looking at TY Hilton’s First Three Seasons**

Why is it important to look at Hilton’s first three years? It’s important because we want to see whether or not Hilton’s consistency measure figures have improved and whether he became a more “consistent” player over the course of his first three NFL seasons. In 2012 and 2013, as the team’s #3 receiver to start the season, he didn’t have much sporadic play. His receiving yardage totals were a little sporadic in both 2012 and 2013, indicating some inconsistency. His mean and his median were very different indicating some outliers. Hilton never went into a game in 2012 as the number 1 receiver/option and only became the de-facto number 1 receiver in the 2nd half of the 2013 season. The inconsistency in those two seasons makes sense as we expect more inconsistency from non-number 1 receivers.

In his third season, which was his first season as the true number 1 receiving option, we saw more inconsistency. His mean and median difference in all stat categories was very small but his variance and range figures were not. His variance figure for receiving yards increased by 27% from 2013 to 2014. His variance figure for yards per reception increased by 43% from 2013 to 2014. His variance figure for targets increased by 43% from 2013 to 2014. His variance figure for catches increased by 16% from 2013 to 2014. His range figures also increased in all stat categories.

**Comparing Hilton to the Top Receivers**

**TY Hilton vs Julio Jones**

When comparing both player’s targets and catches, we see that in 2015, Jones had a higher variance number in both categories, signifying more inconsistency. Jones target totals had a variance figure that was 1.63 times higher and his catch totals had a variance figure that was 3 times higher than Hilton’s. In 2016, Jones, again, had a higher variance in both categories. His variance figure was 2.85 times higher for targets and 1.55 times higher for catches.

Both players had identical ranges for catches and targets. Both players also had very minute differences in their means and medians, with the exception of Hilton’s target figures in 2015, which indicates that there were a few outliers.

In terms of receiving yards, both players had very similar variance figures in 2015, but Hilton’s figure was much smaller than Jones’ in 2016. In terms of yards per reception, Jones’ variance figure was much smaller than Hilton’s, but Hilton’s figure was smaller in 2016. Jones’ yards per reception range was smaller than Hilton’s in both years.

We can conclude that Hilton is much more consistent in terms of the amount of catches and targets he’ll receive in a game. In terms of receiving yards and the amount of yards he gains per reception, Jones is slightly more consistent overall, especially in terms of the amount of yards he gains per reception.

**TY Hilton vs Antonio Brown**

When comparing both player’s targets and catches, we see that in 2015, Brown had a higher variance number in both categories, signifying more inconsistency. In 2015, Brown’s catch totals had a variance figure that was 1.82 times higher and his catch totals had a variance figure that was 6.85 times higher than Hilton’s. Brown also had higher variance figures for both targets and catches in 2016. Brown’s target totals had a variance figure that was 2.97 times higher and his catch totals had a variance figure that was 1.36 times higher.

When comparing both player’s receiving yards and yards per reception totals, we see that Hilton had a much lower variance figure in terms of his receiving yards, but Hilton had a much higher variance figure and range when comparing the yards per reception total. This implies that Hilton had some big games as a deep threat, whereas Brown rarely had games as a deep threat or someone. We can also infer that in 2015, Hilton was a better deep threat and Brown was a better possession receiver.

We can conclude that in 2015 and 2016, Hilton was more consistent in terms of his catches and his targets, despite being a deep threat and Brown being more of a possession receiver. In terms of receiving yards, Hilton was also more consistent, but Brown was much more consistent on a yards per reception basis.

**TY Hilton vs AJ Green**

When comparing both player’s targets and catches, we see that in 2015, Green had a higher variance number in both categories, signifying more inconsistency. In 2015, Green had a variance figure that was 1.30 times higher than Hilton’s variance figure for targets. Green also had a variance figure that was 2.60 times higher than Hilton’s variance figure for catches.

When comparing both player’s yards and yards per reception total, Hilton had a lower variance number in terms of receiving yards, but Green had a lower variance number in terms of receiving yards gained per reception. We did see that Green’s range for receiving yards and yards per reception in 2016 was lower than Hilton’s.

We can conclude that while Hilton is more consistent in terms of his targets and catches, he is not as consistent as Green in terms of yards and yards per reception.

**TY Hilton vs Odell Beckham**

When comparing both player’s targets and catches, we see that in 2015, Beckham and Hilton had very similar variance figures. The ranges were also essentially the same for 2015. In 2016, both players had very similar variance figures for targets, but Beckham had a lower variance figure for catches.

When comparing both player’s yards and yards per reception totals, we see that in 2015, both players had very similar total receiving yard variance figures, but Beckham had a lower yards per reception variance figure. In 2016, Beckham had a lower receiving yards variance figure, but Hilton had the lower yards per reception variance figure. Hilton’s range was smaller than Beckham’s in both categories.

We can conclude that Beckham, overall, is a more consistent receiver than Hilton as he has a lower or equal variance figure in just about every stat category over the past two seasons.

**Conclusion**

Over the past two seasons, we’ve seen a shift in Hilton’s game. We’ve seen Hilton become a more consistent receiver, especially in terms of his possession stats (targets and catches). While his deep threat ability will cause inconsistent shifts in his yardage (and subsequently his yards per reception totals), his total receiving yardage variance figure is still lower than that of Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and AJ Green. We did, however, see a lot of fluctuation in his yards per reception totals, which indicates some inconsistency.

Hilton is not a better receiver than Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, AJ Green or Odell Beckham, but by many measures, he is a more consistent receiver than them. So, if you’re getting into an argument with someone over Hilton’s consistency, you can argue that Hilton is more consistent than some of the best receivers in the game.