Make Up or Break Up: DeAndre Hopkins

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Dear DeAndre,

Oh, hey Hop, didn’t see you down there- all the way down at WR36. My heart sank a little bit with every name I read scrolling down to find you on the WR fantasy points list. Mike Wallace? Kenny Britt? Adam Thielen? All these wide receivers, along with none other than Brandon LaFell, finished above you. To make matters worse, you played all 16 games while others like Dez Bryant and A.J. Green at least found themselves in the top 35 despite missing time. You were in the top 10 in targets last season! Two years ago, you were WR6 with a carousel of below average QBs! Your ADP was 1.08 in 2016, and the best you could do was WR36!? Okay, I’m sorry. I’ll take a deep breath. This is the type of pent-up anger that most owners felt last year, but was it fair to direct it at you? As I take a deeper look into our relationship, I’ll see if you really deserve all the flack.

Could it be possible that your new quarterback, the 72 million dollar man himself, Brock Osweiler, be worse than Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden combined? Sadly, the answer is yes. If you combine all four quarterbacks from 2015, you get a 58.2 completion percentage, 4,051 passing yards, 28 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. Osweiler, on the other hand, had a completion percentage of 59%, while throwing for 2957 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. I’m no math whiz, but it’s safe to say that Osweiler had a HUGE part in your decline. His completion percentage and yards were good enough for 27th in the league, his TDs were 28th, and he threw the 6th most INTs. He was the only QB in the league that averaged less than 6 yards per attempt (5.8). According to NFL research, he was the first player since 1950 to have more than 2 games where he attempted at least 40 passes but failed to break 200 yards. His season wasn’t just bad; it was ugly. As he probably had his name dragged through the mud more than enough on Twitter, let’s look to see if your offense fits your success.

Since Bill O’Brien became the head coach of the Houston Texans, his philosophy has been run, run, and run some more. The team finished 6th in rushing attempts last season after finishing 5th and 1st in O’Brien’s first two years as head coach. Having a dominant defense allows the team to slow the pace of the game and rely heavily on their defense and rushing attack. This obviously doesn’t help you. The 192 targets you received two seasons ago has a strong chance of being an outlier, just as fellow Ballers’ writer Kyle Borgognoni predicted last summer. It also doesn’t help that the team has added weapons in Will Fuller (92 targets) and Lamar Miller (40 targets), along with the emergence of tight ends C.J. Fiedorowicz (89 targets) and Ryan Griffin (75 targets). The team’s winning formula doesn’t include throwing the ball 40 plus times a game. With J.J. Watt coming back, it’s safe to assume the team will go back to more conservative play calling, and let their defense take the wheel.

While your quarterback situation and offensive scheme are legitimate worries, there’s no denying your talent. You, sir, are a flat-out stud. At 6’1″, 215 lbs, you broke out in your third year with 111 receptions for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Your 192 targets were the fifth highest in NFL history. Going back to your Clemson days, as a junior you caught 82 balls for 1,405 yards and 18 touchdowns in just 13 games. If anyone does a quick Google search of “Top 10 WRs in the NFL,” I personally guarantee that you are on every single one of those lists. On top of this, you’ve been incredibly reliable, having not missed a single game in your first 4 NFL seasons. I fully trust in you; it’s those around you that makes me pause for concern.

Most say it’s unhealthy to have a relationship based on certain conditions, but I have no choice. Whether we make-up or break-up will 100% depend on who your quarterback is. If there isn’t a change at quarterback, I doubt there will be much improvement. My season will once again start with high hopes, only to end in tears of sadness. However, on the off-chance that Tony Romo signs with the Texans (although I expect him to sign with the Denver Broncos), I am all in. Will you get 190 plus targets again? No, but you’ll have a more than capable quarterback that O’Brien will feel confident to maybe ease off the run game just a little bit. It may be wishful thinking, but a man can dream, right?

Here’s to hoping our dreams come true,

Nick Martinez-Esquibel

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