After finishing as the WR4 in PPR formats last season, it should come as little to no surprise that DeAndre Hopkins has failed to meet expectations so far in 2016. Last year, Hopkins accumulated 111 receptions for 1,521 yards and 11 touchdowns. Even more, he earned 192 targets, which ranked third among wide receivers. As a result of his elite fantasy production, Hopkins entered 2016 as a near consensus first-round pick in all scoring formats. Below, I will make a case that supports remaining patient with or trading to acquire Hopkins for the remainder of this season.
To begin, it’s fair to assert that Hopkins still has an ample amount of time to turn around a lackluster beginning to the fantasy football season. That being said, his output actually has been better than perceived entering Week 5. In Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, Hopkins posted a 5-54-1 receiving line on 8 targets. He then proceeded to improve on that performance in Week 2 versus a respectable Kansas City Chiefs secondary by collecting 7 receptions for 113 yards and one score on 11 targets. Entering Week 3 of the NFL season, Hopkins actually ranked as the WR7 in PPR scoring. However, consecutive underwhelming efforts against the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans has created uncertainty around Hopkins’ value moving forward.
Arguably the largest factor working against the value of Hopkins in Houston is the newfound presence of rookie wide receiver Will Fuller. To date, Fuller stands as the WR16 in PPR formats. He has exceeded expectations early on in his career, and can confidently be viewed as a borderline WR2/3 in virtually all scoring formats. However, Fuller’s emergence does not necessarily mean that Hopkins will continue to see fewer opportunities in Houston’s passing attack. For a closer look at the production of both Fuller and Hopkins through the first four weeks of the 2016 regular season, reference the table below:
Considering the fact that both wide receivers scored double-digit points in the first two weeks of the season demonstrates that Fuller and Hopkins can indeed coexist as serviceable fantasy options on a regular basis. Entering Week 5, each receiver has similar output to one another. Fuller currently owns a slight statistical advantage with 2 extra receptions, 96 additional yards and 1 more target than Hopkins. Due to Hopkins’ NFL pedigree, he is experiencing added defensive attention, particularly in the form of double coverage against opposing defenses. Clearly, this has led to Fuller seeing extended looks. However, defenses will need to allocate attention to both of Houston’s starting wide receivers, which almost certainly bodes well for the long-term value of Hopkins.
Despite the fact that Hopkins faces a difficult matchup against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 5, there is no better time than the present to buy low on “Nuk” before his value explodes. Even with a slow start to the season, Hopkins is still tied for 24th in targets among wide receivers. He is also averaging 13.4 yards per catch. For context, remember that he averaged 13.7 yards per catch in his breakout 2015 campaign. Before writing off Hopkins for the remainder of 2016, keep in mind that the Houston Texans’ schedule is favorable from a fantasy perspective, as the team will face the Indianapolis Colts’ porous defense twice, while also battling against the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers. Purchase shares of the Clemson University product before his value resurfaces as an expensive WR1.