Andre Johnson has been a top producer for fantasy football owners throughout his career, but the Houston Texans have struggled to find a viable option to work opposite him. So it was not surprising they used their first-round pick (27th overall) on Clemson wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and have immediately said they expect him to be a starter.
Hopkins had a big junior season in 2012, with 82 receptions for 1,405 yards (fourth in the country) and 18 touchdowns (second in the country), leading to him choosing to forego his senior season and enter the draft. He is considered perhaps the most polished and NFL-ready wide receiver in this year’s rookie class, drawing some comparisons to Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has also recently compared Hopkins to former Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith.
The Texans routinely have one of the most run-oriented offenses in the league, and 2012 was no different with the fourth-most rushing attempts (31.8 per game) and the 18th-most pass attempts (34.6 per game). That is unlikely to change much in 2013 with one of the best running backs in the league in Arian Foster around, but Hopkins at least offers upside that has not been present in Houston’s pass offense outside of Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels over the last few seasons.
Rookie wide receivers are hard for fantasy owners to rely on, let alone predict with any confidence, since for every Randy Moss, Percy Harvin, Julio Jones or A.J. Green there are plenty of others who have failed to meet even modest expectations. Hopkins’ opportunities as a rookie are likely to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, due to Houston’s offensive style more than anything, but I think his overall numbers (50-60 receptions for 800-850 yards and 5-10 touchdowns) will be solid and make him a worthy contributor in 12 and 14-team leagues.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.