The Wideout Report (2014): Week 4, DeAndre Hopkins, and The Accountant

chris baldwin

During the 2013 NFL season, I did Tuesday rundowns of all the NFL wideout situations, and I also put out a special Combine Edition of the Wideout Report in February. Shortly before Week 1, I started the season strong with a 2014 Kickoff Edition, and now it’s just business as usual—if you can call what you’re about to read “usual.” Also, since these reports are quasi-actionable only in the loosest sense, check out RotoViz’s Buy Low Machine, WR GLSP Projections, and Efficiency App.

By the way, thanks to Ramon Ramirez for doing the Week 3 Wideout Report. I was on bye last week.

Here we go!

Houston Texans

DeAndre Hopkins: pacing for 1,164 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns on 25 targets.
Mystery Pro-Bowler: pacing for 1,164 yards receiving and 12 TDs on 33 targets.

As you sit with that, let’s explore the ancient history of four weeks ago, when in redraft leagues trading wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for Andre Johnson straight up would’ve been considered robbery. Now, that trade is still robbery—I don’t think a redraft league exists today in which someone would trade away Hopkins for only Johnson.

The lesson? In fantasy drafts, you’re relatively unlikely to select a stud NFL-first-round WR too soon in his career. Despite popular perception, Hopkins actually had a productive rookie season, and a first-round WR, if he’s to break out, is historically far likelier to do so in his first and second seasons than in his third or fourth. If you ever thought, “I bet Hopkins will be a top-30 WR,” this should’ve been the year you drafted him.

That “Mystery Pro-Bowler”? Dez Bryant. Yes, Hopkins has been precisely as productive as and more efficient than the Dallas WR.

The season is only a month old, but it’s probably safe to say that DeAndre Hopkins has arrived.

And what about Johnson? He’s quickly becoming a version of Larry Fitzgerald.

Arizona Cardinals

Right now, rookie John Brown is the Cardinals WR with the most fantasy points and the only WR with a TD—and he has three of them (in only three games). His reception total of nine isn’t impressive, but when you consider that Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd respectively have only 10 and 11 catches then Brown starts to seem like a more legitimate and less random contributor. No one should be totally surprised that Brown currently is a top-30 WR on a points-per-game basis, because he’s basically a T.Y. Hilton clone, and in Bruce Arians’ offense as a rookie Hilton was a top-30 WR too.

Brown isn’t likely to finish the year as his team’s most productive receiver and TD leader, but the odds are better than most people think that he closes out the season as a startable fantasy player.

Fitzgerald? I have serious doubts . . .

By the way, I don’t normally profile teams that were on bye the previous week—but I can’t not talk about John Brown. It’s what I do.

Dallas Cowboys

Despite Tony Romo’s back problems and the Cowboys’ commitment to the running game, Bryant is still a top-10 WR on a points/game basis. This is who he is.

Terrance Williams fascinates me. He was older for a rookie, but he had a productive first season and entered the 2014 season undervalued. And I think he’s still undervalued. He’s unlikely to finish as a top-15 WR, but in the trade markets some people are valuing him as a WR4 who has randomly done well. His success so far has not been random. The Cowboys want to get him the ball: He has only three fewer targets on the season than security blanket Jason Witten. Williams of course won’t finish the season with 716 yards receiving and 16 TDs—but a 900-9 season is entirely within reach.

Chicago Bears

On the topic of crazy yardage-TD disparity, I want to point out that Brandon Marshall probably won’t finish the season with 576 yards . . . but he might finish with something close to 20 TDs.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Tied with Marshall for the league lead in TDs receiving is Antonio Brown . . . and, dammit, if he finished with something close to 20 TDs I wouldn’t be surprised either.

Here’s what I said a couple of weeks ago:

I don’t have Antonio Brown on a single team, and the only time I regret it is every single week.

Not really, but I really wanted to use that line.

In another couple of weeks, that joke probably won’t even be a joke. It’ll just be the truth.

New Orleans Saints

2012: 83 catches; 1,154 yards; 10 TDs.
2013: 75 catches; 943 yards; five TDs.
2014: 48 catches; 740 yards; four TDs. (Extrapolated.)

Marques Colston is 31 years old and trending in the wrong direction. If you can trade him for someone like James Jones and a depth RB, you probably should.

Oakland Raiders

Right now Jones is a top-30 WR on a points/game basis. For a guy who was available late in redraft leagues, that’s pretty good. I don’t know how long #Carr-bitrage will last, but I think Jones will be a high-end WR3 as long as he’s healthy. He’s a great complementary piece in larger trades.

And speaking of complementary piece . . .

Buffalo Bills

Kyle Orton is exactly what the Bills WRs need. Any time you can replace a big and cheap developing and mobile young quarterback who has a 6-8 record and a 58.6 percent career completion percentage with a smaller and overpaid declining and immobile almost-retired QB who has a 35-35 record and a 58.5 percent career completion percentage . . . do you actually need me to finish that sentence?

Kansas City Chiefs

Here’s what Ramon wrote last week:

We can just copy and paste Freedman’s take forever.

Because it worked so well last year . . . Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins, and Frankie Hammond: They play for the Chiefs, but they don’t actually play for your team, right?

Why fix what isn’t broken.

Of course, if you’re the Chiefs, why fix what is broken?

San Diego Chargers

Guys like Eddie Royal exist so that someone who isn’t you can win fantasy contests.

Jacksonville Jaguars

As evidence, I present Exhibit A(llen Hurns).

Tennessee Titans

What is the best part about Justin Hunter being on waivers in lots of leagues?

A) He’s a free buy-low candidate.
B) He’s not on your team.
C) He can keep Aaron Dobson company.

New England Patriots

Here’s what I said a couple of weeks ago about Tom Brady and Julian Edelman:

The saddest day in Brady’s life could very well be the day in the future when he realizes that his suckiness is no longer good enough even to benefit Edelman. When that happens, Brady will be reduced to little more than your average multi-millionaire with a broadcasting future and supermodel wife.

#Loser

What’s sad is that Week 4 Brady probably isn’t the worst version of the QB we’ll see this season. It doesn’t matter how well Edelman can play the Wes Welker role if Brady can’t play the Brady role.

Indianapolis Colts

2012: 50 catches; 861 yards receiving; eight all-purpose TDs.
2013: 82 catches; 1,083 yards receiving; five all-purpose TDs.
2014: 88 catches; 1,164 yards receiving; zero all-purpose TDs. (Extrapolated.)

T.Y. Hilton is pacing for more receptions and yards than he got last year. At some point, the TDs will come. If owners are losing faith, especially in dynasty leagues, now is the time to buy.

New York Jets

I think that Greg Salas has a better-than-zero chance of taking Jeremy Kerley’s job as the WR2. Seeing most of his action in only the last two games, Salas has turned 11 targets into 116 yards receiving over that time. If you believe that Geno Smith will continue to improve; that Kerley is rather mediocre; that the injured David Nelson is even more mediocre; that Eric Decker will draw coverage and create opportunities for other receivers; and that a 6’1” and 210-lb. 2011 fourth-round selection who led the nation in receiving yardage as a senior is likely good enough to be a WR2, then you might want to consider adding him in really deep leagues.

Stranger things have happened than the pseudo-emergence of guys like Salas. Just look at Brian Hartline.

Miami Dolphins

For the first five years of his career, Mike Wallace was a top-30 WR. He’s now in his sixth season.

Do you remember what Albert Einstein said about insanity???

Philadelphia Eagles

If you have Jeremy Maclin, you’re probably not trading him. If you don’t have Jeremy Maclin, you probably can’t trade for him. So . . . why am I talking about him?

Baltimore Ravens

When he’s not busy catching passes that aren’t thrown to him, Steve Smith, Sr. likes to jam with his ’60s and ’70s jazz-rock cover band, Blood, Guts & Pass Interferes.

Look, the hour’s late . . . who am I kidding? I would’ve made that joke even if I weren’t tired.

Washington Whatevers

Here’s a table of NFL combine data for your perusal:

Name Year Ht Wt 40 Tme Speed Score Agility Score Explosion Score BP Rep
Niles Paul 2011 73 224 4.51 108.29 11.04 151.5 24
DeSean Jackson 2008 70 169 4.35 94.40 11.01 154.5 NA
Pierre Garcon 2008 72 210 4.48 104.26 11.09 161.5 20

Is it any wonder that Niles Paul is the team’s leading receiver? He’s not overly explosive, which helps explain his move from WR to tight end, but otherwise he’s physically more impressive than DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. And then when you consider that D-Jax and Garcon are always matched up against guys whose sole jobs are to cover WRs and Paul is matched up against linebackers and safeties who can’t keep up with him, you gain an appreciation for what he brings to this offense. Jordan Reed is good, but Paul has a chance to be great as a pseudo-WR playing the TE position.

San Francisco 49ers

I’m amazed by how fantastically useless Anquan Boldin and Steve Johnson’s solid 2014 production has been. Actually, I guess I should say that I’m amazed that they were even productive in the first place.

And I should also probably mention that I’m easily amazed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

For instance, I’m amazed at how badly Vincent Jackson has played so far. As paltry as his production has been, he’s somehow been even worse than his stats.

Carolina Panthers

I’m also amazed by myself. Four games isn’t a sufficient sample size on which to base a final analysis . . . but so far Kelvin Benjamin has looked like a mixture of Plaxico Burress and Calvin Johnson. If he ever learns how to run routes, he could be unstoppable.

Detroit Lions

When Ryan Broyles looks in the Mirror of Erised, he sees Golden Tate.
When Golden Tate look in the Mirror of Erised, he sees Ryan Broyles’ wife.

Atlanta Falcons

Whatever preconceptions we have about Devin Hester, we should acknowledge that he is getting on the field; has caught 12 of 15 passes; will always see single coverage because of Julio Jones and Roddy White; and can score in a variety of ways. Basically, he’s the receiver version of Darren Sproles. He may never be a reliable fantasy option, but he’s accumulated at least 14 points in PPR leagues in three of his four games with the Falcons. At a minimum, he’s a nice extra offensive weapon for Matt Ryan to use.

Minnesota Vikings

The good news is that we’re just several Cordarrelle Patterson, Greg Jennings, Jarius Wright, Rodney Smith, and Adam Thielen injuries away from seeing RotoViz favorite Charles Johnson get a chance to play.

The bad news is that he’d be playing for Norv Turner.

Green Bay Packers

Of all the great things to happen to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb this year, Jarrett Boykin is the greatest. And then Aaron Rodgers.

New York Giants

#LarryDonnell is on pace to record 100 receptions for 944 yards receiving and 16 TDs in 2014. Those are some big numbers. Good thing he’s an accountant.

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Interested in what happened last week? Check out the previous Wideout Report.
Interested in running backs? Check out the Week 4 Backfield Report.

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Matthew Freedman is a regular contributor to RotoViz and is (not) the inspiration for the character in The League who shares his name. He serves as RotoViz’s (un)official ombudsman in the series The Dissenting Costanzan, and he also co-hosts the RotoViz Radio Football Podcast and writes The Backfield Report and The Wideout Report. He is the creator of the non-Quarterback Dominator Rating and now the Workhorse Metric and is the chief proponent of the RBx6 draft strategy and the No. 1 fan of John Brown, the Desert Lilliputian. If you hate the #LarryDonnell Twitter phenomenon . . .

. . . you now know who to blame.