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Is DeAndre Hopkins the Best Post-Bust Sleeper For 2017?

Deandre Hopkins
Photo Credit: Karen, Flickr

DeAndre Hopkins is a name that many Fantasy Owners across the country now detest. Widely picked in the Top 5 overall picks last season, Hopkins did not live up to his lofty draft positioning.

The question going forward: was this an aberration or a sign of things to come?

DeAndre Hopkins is what I like to call a post-bust sleeper. He is someone who was ranked highly one year for good reasons, the reasons failed, and now he is being overlooked. DeMarco Murray is a good example from last year or Melvin Gordon.

So what exactly am I seeing in a guy that finished 27th at his position last year but is still costing a third-round pick?

DeAndre Hopkins: Post-Bust Sleeper

Rebound Ability

Positive Progression

The biggest reason that DeAndre Hopkins was ranked so highly last season: positive progression. In each of his first three seasons, Hopkins increased his receptions, yards and touchdowns.

No other receivers in the league have been able to do that in all three categories, while also having at least 600 yards each year.

It is not like Hopkins was some flash in the pan that broke out for 100-plus catches and 1,500-plus yards out of nowhere. He steadily progressed to that point in 2015.

I’m no master in statistical probabilities, but one thing I know is that if there is a solid, multi-year progression, then one slightly down year, the down year is the outlier.


How Bad Was Last Season?

As bad as DeAndre Hopkins’ season seemed, it was still starter-worthy. He finished as a high-end WR3. He tallied 78 catches for 954 yards and four touchdowns.

That is 197.4 PPR points (12.3 points per game). If he is your second round pick, you really aren’t that mad.

So yes, as your Round 1 pick you are quite disappointed. If I could guarantee that your third round pick gets you over 12 points a game, you would say yes in a heartbeat.

That makes us look at probably the absolute statistical floor is a high-end WR3. That is a hard value to pass up for your second or third wide-out. Which brings me to my next point…

Durability/Quarterback Concerns

DeAndre Hopkins has never missed a game in his NFL Career. No other Top 20 ranked receiver going into the season that has played more than two years can say that.

After seeing the injuries to other highly regarded receivers the past couple of years (Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, etc.) this is becoming more of a factor with your top wide-outs.

Even more of a factor is the quarterback throwing the ball to said receivers. Some pundits have pointed out that we should have seen the Hopkins’ regression coming with Brock Osweiler at the helm.

On the other hand, I’m not sure that Brock Osweiler is in the bottom half of talent regarding Hopkins’ signal callers. He has had the following quarterbacks throwing to him: Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage. Yuck!

Outside of Schaub (who was only with him the first part of his rookie year), the rest of those quarterbacks are complete trash. I would say that DeShaun Watson will end up being the second best quarterback that DeAndre Hopkins has had the pleasure of catching passes from.

Even if he’s not, why the sudden drop off? If he has always had bad quarterback play, why did it just surface last season as a detriment to his Fantasy Scoring abilities?


Will Fuller Effect

Will Fuller burst onto the scene in his rookie season last year with 100-plus yards in his first two games. He also had 19 catches, 323 yards and two touchdowns over his first four games. Two of those contests included Hopkins’ worst games where he combined for just five catches and 60 yards with zero scores.

Did Fuller take advantage of the focus on DeAndre Hopkins? Or did the Texans figure out how to use both? Can both succeed together?

In Week 2, against the very good defense of Kansas City, both Hopkins and Fuller surpassed 100 yards receiving. Their combined tally: 11 catches, 217 yards and a touchdown. These two can definitely coexist. What it does is give Hopkins less focus and more leeway in defensive backfields.

If you really look at the numbers, it was a case of bad luck hurting Hopkins. He had just two touchdowns after Week 2. Hopkins caught at least three passes in 14-of-16 games, and caught at least five passes in 10 games.

The volume was still there, he just did not have a quarterback that could finish in the Red Zone. I mean he had 132 targets from Week 3 through Week 16. And just TWO scores.


Bottom Line: Floor and Safety

Over the past four seasons only three receivers have more yards and touchdowns than Hopkins. Those three are Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green. So that is arguably the best two receivers in the league with a third guy that had Peyton Manning setting records throwing him the ball.

This includes both his rookie season in which he was the secondary option to Andre Johnson and his “bust” season of last year. Over his four years, Hopkins has averaged almost 80 catches for 1,120 yards and six touchdowns.

I would say that last year is the absolute lowest total we will see from Hopkins going forward. I would bet money that he will cross his career average in all three categories. That would add up to 228-plus PPR points for the year, or more than 14 points a game. That would have been the 16th highest-scoring receiver last season.

If I can guarantee myself that kind of scoring output from my Third-Round Pick, sign me up for some Deandre Hopkins. Check out where he went in our recent 12-team, 2-QB, Experts’ mock draft!

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