My brother Mike and I love to debate player value. And even though it’s early June, we’re already combing through ADP data looking for bargains. Because even though Mike was given RotoViz approved 6’2” height, while I was only given charm, wit, good looks, and humility, we were both clearly blessed with whatever gene it is that causes a year-round obsession with fantasy football. This year we’ve decided to turn our debate into a series for RotoViz. One of us will lay out the case for a re-draft WR that looks like a great bargain based on their early re-draft ADP, and then you’ll hear from the other Kerrane bro, who’ll tell you why you may be better off looking elsewhere.
Ok let’s get this kicked off. I will lay out the case for DeAndre Hopkins, with Mike’s rebuttal to follow. Oh, and Mike, get ready for me to carry this series like I carried you out of Kildare’s on your 21st birthday, after you got kicked out for calling the DJ “Vagina Johnson.”
The Case for Deandre Hopkins (Pat)
Last Summer Coleman Kelly authored a very prescient article on why you should target 2nd year receiver Alshon Jeffrey over incoming rookie WRs like DeAndre Hopkins. At the time Jeffrey was an absolute steal in both dynasty (9th round ADP) and redraft (11th round ADP). This year, in redraft at least, the value is in Hopkins.
Hopkins costs an early 4th round pick in dynasty, which is actually an increase from his rookie year price. Dynasty owners apparently view his first season as very impressive for a 21 year old rookie and are pricing him accordingly. But in redraft, Hopkins has comes at a huge discount with an ADP of WR48. Part of what makes Hopkins such a value is that four rookie WRs1 are currently going off the board before him. There are also four 2nd year WRs2 going ahead of him, creating some pretty tasty value for RotoViz’s #1 Ranked 2013 Rookie WR.
Hopkins finished as WR48 last year, and that’s exactly where he’s going this year. That tells me that redrafters are probably thinking 3 things:
1) His upside is capped by Andre Johnson
2) WRs tend to break out in year 3
3) His QB situation is a dumpster fire
To which I say:
1) Both Matt Schaub and Case Keenum had a higher AYA last year when throwing to Hopkins than Johnson. Meanwhile, Johnson is entering his age 33 season and is currently sitting out OTAs (and talking about skipping minicamp) instead of learning the new offense. There’s a real possibility that Hopkins passes Johnson this year.
2) 1st Round Rookies are actually more likely to break out in year 2 than year 3.
3) Josh Gordon’s QB situation was also a dumpster fire last year and he finished as the #1 WR in 14 games.
Speaking of Josh Gordon, look who shows up when we plug DeAndre into the WR Sim Score App:
Yup. There’s Josh Gordon’s 2013 breakout season,3 right next to Kenny Britt’s 2010 breakout. Basically Hopkins is being drafted as if he has no upside, when in fact he’s brimming with it. He’s exactly the kind of high upside play you want to make later in the draft and he could win leagues in 2014.
The Case Against DeAndre Hopkins (Mike)
Pat was right4 about my Josh Gordon eye roll, and I will concede that Hopkins’ Sim Score comps are intriguing. However, the false equivalency here may be in situation, not ability. All QB dumpster fires are not ignited equally, and just because Gordon thrived in Cleveland5 doesn’t mean we should ignore QB situation when evaluating redraft receivers.6
Sure, Gordon did prove that horrid quarterbacking can be overcome, but he was able to do so in part because he had 159 targets. Take a quick look at the top PPR receivers over the last few years. It seems pretty clear that they have at least one of two things going for them: playing with a top level NFL QB, or receiving a heaping amount of targets.7We know that Hopkins won’t have the benefit of the former. So is he in line for the latter?
It’s possible, but I’m betting against it. Andre Johnson has been an absolute black hole for targets, averaging over 170 the last two seasons. And he’s not exactly slowing down; he had 19 more targets last year then he did in 2012. Speaking of targets, I’m not quite ready to look at the AYA numbers on Johnson and Hopkins and declare Hopkins the victor. AYA numbers can be very helpful, but they tend to decline with volume and Johnson received nearly double the volume that Hopkins did.8
I like Hopkins a lot long term, but I’m tempering my expectations for 2014.
- Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Brandin Cooks & Kelvin Benjamin. (back)
- Keenan Allen, Cordarrelle Patterson, Terrance Williams & Tavon Austin. (back)
- Mike rolled his eyes when I mentioned Josh Gordon earlier, but now he feels dumb. (back)
- Ugh, I hate saying that (back)
- WITH NORV!!!!!!!!! (back)
- Especially when the best part of that QB situation is the grotesque, funhouse mirror version of Brett Favre known as Ryan Fitzpatrick. But did you know he went to Harvard? (back)
- Having an elite skillset is obviously the biggest part of the equation, but for the most part that is built into targets. (back)
- His targets from Keenum literally were double those of Hopkins, 74 to 37. Meanwhile the difference in Keenum’s AYA was 0.58. (back)