In his first NFL preseason game, DeAndre Hopkins lit up the Minnesota Vikings‘ secondary with four catches for 54 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch where he out-timed and out-leaped the defensive back, pulling down an acrobatic catch that topped all of the highlight reels.
Every year, it seems there is some new vaunted rookie wide receiver that grabs our attention and gets us talking about great he’ll be in the future. So is DeAndre Hopkins the next Andre Johnson? Or is he just another rookie who looked good against a second-string defense?
I think if we’re really going to sort this out, we have to look at what goes into a great rookie receiver; or at least, what makes him relevant this year for your fantasy team.
Does he have the physical abilities? At 6-foot-1 and 214 pounds, he isn’t exactly a prototypical big-bodied receiver. But, he still fits into the mold of Larry Fitzgerald. Hopkins ran a 4.5 time in the 40-yard dash, which is faster than the 4.6 of Fitzgerald. With a vertical of 37 inches and 33 3/4 arms, it gives him a huge catching radius.
So I think we can conclude that he’s got the physical tools to succeed. Is he in the right situation?
Matt Schaub is a veteran quarterback who’s well versed in the Houston Texans offense. On the other side of the field is Johnson, one of the best receivers in the game, who will draw coverage away and also serve as a mentor to help accelerate Hopkins’ knowledge of the game.
Top this off with the fact that the Texans are one of the powerhouse offenses in the league with a rock solid run game, and Hopkins should draw single coverage from the opposing team’s no. 2 corner with every snap.
So before we wrap him up in a box and put him under the Christmas tree next to the traveling trophy, let’s look at some of the realistic obstacles you’ll face if you draft him to your fantasy team.
The biggest issue is that the Texans have become a run-first team, so there are less passing plays in general for him to show off that huge catching radius. He’ll also be the second or third option in the passing game, combined with the rookie learning curve. All of that smells of a player who will have an inconsistent stat line.
I wouldn’t advocate drafting him as a no. 3 fantasy receiver unless you’re desperate, but he could make a serviceable no. 4. He could also serve as trade bait you can sell high after one of his inevitable big games. I’d happily scoop him up if he’s around in the 10th or 11th round.
Eric Beuning is a Fantasy Football writer for RantSports.com.