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DeAndre Hopkins Looks Like the First Round’s Biggest Trap

DeAndre Hopkins is currently being drafted at his ceiling. All first-round picks face the daunting challenge of living up to ADP, but Hopkins’ profile stands out as a particular trap at these levels.

Hopkins had an ADP outside of the top-12 wide receivers last year, but now is the consensus WR2 who is occasionally being selected ahead of the WR1 Antonio Brown. Hopkins’ ADP of WR2 is the highest positional ADP of his career and is a prime example of recency bias.

We can view Hopkins’ ADP in the context of his finishes by pulling in his numbers from the Fantasy Stat Explorer.1

Hopkins ADP and finish

The average PPR finish for the overall WR2 over the last seven years has been 326 PPR points.2  Hopkins hit career highs in market share (35 percent) and touchdown rate (0.075) in 2017 and finished around this median score with a 16-game pace of 331 points.

2018-2019 Projection

Team Level Assumptions

  • The Houston Texans’ Vegas win total is 8.5. Using the Projection Machine, we can see that in Bill O’Brien’s three 9-7 seasons from 2014 to 2016, the Texans averaged 1055 offensive plays per year. The 2018 Vegas win total for the Texans is 8.5, so I project them for 1055 plays this year.
  • In Deshaun Watson’s six starts, the Texans had a 54 percent pass tendency. The Projection Machine shows that this is near the 55.7 percent average pass tendency the Texans have had the last three years. Since Watson will be the starter this year and the team’s pass percent has decreased each of the last three years, I project a 54 percent pass tendency.
  • 1055 plays with a 54 percent pass tendency results in 524 total pass attempts after accounting for sacks.

Hopkins’ Assumptions

Target Market Share

Year

Hopkins Market Share

2017

0.35

Watson’s Six Starts in 2017

0.32

2016

0.26

2015

0.31

2014

0.27

Career Excluding Rookie Season

0.298

Observe that Hopkins has garnered an average target share of 0.298 over the last four seasons.

In 2015 and 2017, the two years he had a market share over 0.30, the Texans were void of good pass catchers other than Hopkins. In 2014, Hopkins played alongside Andre Johnson and in 2016 he played alongside a somewhat healthy Will Fuller. It is no coincidence that in the two years the Texans had more than a one-player passing corps, Hopkins had a normal high-end WR1 target share instead of a force-fed ungodly target share. Recognize that Hopkins’ 0.30+ target shares, and his corresponding elevated fantasy value, have come when no No. 2 option existed.3

All signs point to Fuller being healthy this year, so Hopkins’ target expectations need to be tempered. I project Hopkins for a still extremely elite 0.30 market share this year, but one that represents the median for his career and does not fall victim to recency bias.

Touchdown Rate (TDR)

Year

Hopkins TDR

2017

0.075

Watson’s Six Starts in 2017

0.100

2016

0.026

2015

0.057

2014

0.047

Career Excluding Rookie Season

0.051

This four-year sample showcases both the upside and the downside of Hopkins’ TDR. TDR is variable year-over-year and Watson is bound for touchdown regression, too. These factors make Hopkins’ career TDR of 0.051 a good projection for 2018, as 0.05 is generally the upper bound of TDR I will project for situations with uncertainty4 in which a player has not sustained an outlier TDR over multiple years.

Catch Rate

Year

Hopkins CR

2017

0.55

Watson’s Six Starts in 2017

0.63

2016

0.52

2015

0.58

2014

0.60

2013

0.57

Career

0.56

Watson is undoubtedly the most accurate quarterback Hopkins has played with in his career. It is unsurprising to see Hopkins’ catch rate spike when Watson was throwing him the ball. There is reason for optimism in this category, but it is still prudent to be conservative in the face of a six-game sample, so I project a 0.59 CR – a middle ground between Hopkins’ career average and his time with Watson.

Yardage

I utilize average depth of target (aDOT) and receiver air conversion ratio (RACR) to project receiving yardage because aDOT and RACR are stickier than yards per target or yards per catch.

Year

Hopkins aDOT

Hopkins RACR

2013

13.50

0.65

2014

12.80

0.74

2015

13.90

0.57

2016

11.80

0.53

2017

12.90

0.61

Career

13.00

0.61

RACR is moderately correlated with quarterback play and catch rate, so intuitively Hopkins’ RACR would be higher with Watson at the helm. However, this was actually not the case in 2017. Hopkins’ average RACR in Watson’s six starts last year was 0.58, which is in line with his career efficiency. Projecting Hopkins for a RACR above his career average implies that Hopkins will either personally improve on his play in 2018, or that Watson’s efficiency will improve in 2018. It would be an upside projection to expect either of those two scenarios to occur, so I project Hopkins at his career aDOT of 13.0 and his career RACR of 0.61 for 2018.

In review, these are my median assumptions for Hopkins:

Target Market Share

0.30

Touchdown Rate

0.051

Catch Rate

0.59

aDOT

13.0

RACR

0.61

Results

Median Projection:

WR reTRG reREC reAIR reYD reTD PPR
DeAndre Hopkins 157.11 92.70 2042.44 1245.89 8.01 265.36

Upside projection upping TDR from 0.051 to 0.75:

WR reTRG reREC reAIR reYD reTD PPR
DeAndre Hopkins 157.11 92.70 2042.44 1245.89 11.78 287.98

Upside projection upping target share from 0.30 to 0.33 with median 0.051 TDR:

WR reTRG reREC reAIR reYD reTD PPR
DeAndre Hopkins 172.82 101.97 2246.69 1370.48 8.81 291.90

Ceiling projection using 0.75 TDR and 0.33 target share:

WR reTRG reREC reAIR reYD reTD PPR
DeAndre Hopkins 172.82 101.97 2246.69 1370.48 12.96 316.78

Median projection with an adjusted ordinary elite WR1 target share of 0.28:

WR reTRG reREC reAIR reYD reTD PPR
DeAndre Hopkins 146.64 86.52 1906.28 1162.83 7.48 247.67

My median projection (265 PPR points) for Hopkins in 2018 is well below other receivers being drafted in the top seven and a far reach from the 320-plus historical average of the WR2. For Hopkins to finish as the WR2, he would again have to hit every angle of his upside in market share and touchdown rate, as is evidenced by the various projection scenarios.

Hopkins’ deflated median projection suggests that he is much less likely to hit this upside than are the receivers who have noticeably higher median projections than he does. My 265-point (WR7) projection for Hopkins is approximately 10 points behind Julio Jones at WR6, approximately 20 points behind Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen, and A.J. Green at WR3-WR5, and approximately 40 points behind Odell Beckham Jr. at WR2.

Here are my top seven raw wide receiver projections for 2018.5

Rank

WR

reTRG

reREC

reAIR

reYD

reTD

PPR

PPR Over Hopkins

1

Antonio Brown

172.76

117.48

1986.74

1539.72

9.50

328.46

63.10

2

Odell Beckham

161.68

97.01

1826.97

1388.49

11.80

306.67

41.31

3

Michael Thomas

151.81

110.82

1351.10

1297.06

8.20

289.71

24.35

4

A.J. Green

158.06

93.26

2039.00

1406.91

8.54

285.16

19.80

5

Keenan Allen

162.11

108.61

1426.53

1337.37

6.97

284.17

18.81

6

Julio Jones

143.95

89.25

2044.09

1492.19

6.48

277.33

11.97

7

DeAndre Hopkins

157.11

92.70

2042.44

1245.89

8.01

265.36

Do not bet on a perfect storm, bet on the average outcome. Unfortunately for anyone like me who loves watching Hopkins make circus catches, if you believe in my reasoning, you will likely own zero Hopkins on your fantasy teams in 2018.

  1. 15-game fantasy finishes.  (back)
  2. This sample uses Brandon Marshall’s 2015 WR3 finish in lieu of Julio Jones’ 371 PPR point 2015 WR2 finish which was clearly an outlier in the sample.  (back)
  3. Fuller missed the preseason and first three games in 2017, then saw decreased target volume and abysmal efficiency after he missed more time because he cracked his ribs in week 10. He was neither fully engaged nor healthy for more than six games in 2017.  (back)
  4. Watson may or may not sustain a TDR higher than Aaron Rodgers. Watson also may or may not be one of the best quarterbacks of all time.  Do not bet on either.  (back)
  5. My rankings order is slightly adjusted from these raw projections.  (back)

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