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What Does Arian Foster’s Injury Mean For DeAndre Hopkins?

Arian Foster tore his groin off the bone. Once you’re done cringing we’ve got some thinking on DeAndre Hopkins‘ fantasy value to do. Foster is expected to be out until week 10 at the earliest. Even then he might not be ready to go.

RotoViz has been talking up Hopkins often this offseason. 14Team Mocker showed us why we couldn’t afford to miss out on Hopkins, and Justin Winn wrote on Hopkins being a bargain in auction drafts. I was a believer as well. I had Hopkins shares in 75 percent of my MFL10 leagues and had him ranked as the sixth highest scoring wideout in our projection machine, which was higher than the RotoViz consensus, which had Hopkins as the eighth ranked WR. Should that change?

Past Clues

Arian Foster goes down with an injury and water is wet. Foster missing games is nothing new so we’ve got a decent sample size of games to go off of even though Hopkins only has two season under his belt.

Deandrefoster

That hurts. Hopkins’ has averaged about four and a half fantasy points less on a per game basis with Foster on the bench. Over a 16 game span that gap would be a 73 point difference. Hopkins has never scored a TD in a game where Foster didn’t play. That’s alarming. Thankfully, the difference isn’t likely to be that large in 2015. In 2013, which was Hopkins rookie year, Foster missed eight games compared to three in 2014. Hopkins was only a mildly used option his rookie season compared to his sophomore campaign where he saw a greater share of his team’s targets. Our sample above uses more games from Hopkins’ lightly used rookie year in the “Out of Split” sample and less from his last year. To get a closer idea of Foster’s injury impact in 2015 let’s look at the numbers from 2014 only.

hopkinsarian

That soothes the pain a bit. Hopkins’ value still takes a dive, but not on the same level as our last table. Hopkins is sure to see more targets with Foster out of the lineup as the Texans lean on their best offensive player. Hopkins efficiency numbers take a dip, but the increase in targets is enough to level out his receptions and yards. The problem is still with Hopkins’ touchdowns.

Using The Fantasy Efficiency App

A solid theory is that with Foster out of the lineup the Texans are struggling to move the ball, thus Hopkins isn’t seeing as many targets close to the end zone as he does with Foster in the backfield. Using the Fantasy Efficiency App we can take a look at that. With Foster in the lineup last year, Hopkins saw 101 targets and was expected to record 112.73 fantasy points based on the line of scrimmage on plays he was targeted. Hopkins was expected to see 1.12 fantasy points per target based on field position with Foster. Without Foster, Hopkins saw 26 targets and was expected to record 27.77 fantasy points. Nuk was expected to score 1.07 fantasy points per target based of field position without Foster. That’s not a big gap. Hopkins is seeing targets from a similar field position with or without Foster. So how can we explain the collapse in touchdown efficiency ?

There’s a good chance defenses are scheming to stop the passing game without Foster on the field. Since Hopkins was drafted, in the 11 games without Foster the Texans have thrown 10 touchdowns. In 21 games with Foster Houston threw for 31 touchdowns. Houston throws touchdowns at a higher rate with Foster in the backfield. It’s unlikely that Hopkins doesn’t catch a single touchdown when Foster is out this year, but it’s reasonable to guess he won’t catch as many TDs as he would have had Foster been in the lineup.

How To Change Draft Strategy

I’m certainly less excited about having a ton of Hopkins after the Foster news, but I’m not totally giving up on him either. He’ll likely drop down on my draft board into mid WR2 range rather than a mid WR1. I also think there’s a good chance the fantasy community jumps ship on the entire Houston offense and Hopkins’ becomes a value again after he sees a sizable ADP drop. Hopkins is someone I’ll be keeping a close eye on using our Best Ball App.

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