If you took a chance drafting rookie DeAndre Hopkins in your fantasy league, you’re sitting pretty early on in 2013. If not, pray he’s still available on the waiver wire—he's currently owned in just 48 percent of Yahoo! Sports fantasy leagues.
After Andre Johnson left the Houston Texans’ Week 2 matchup near the end of regulation, Hopkins stepped up and played the role of hero, grabbing two key passes in overtime to seal the win for his team.
Both came in dramatic fashion. With Johnson sidelined with concussion symptoms, quarterback Matt Schaub had no choice other than to turn to the first-round pick with the game on the line.
After leaping to reel in a ridiculous contested 25-yard grab at the Titans’ 1-yard line, Schaub looked in the rookie’s direction two more times. Schaub’s second attempt found Hopkins on the right edge of the end zone and the rookie made a tremendous play, snatching the pass and keeping his feet in bounds to secure the win.
He finished with 117 yards receiving and one touchdown on seven receptions. That 100-plus-yard performance is the first time a Texans receiver not named Johnson has been able to break the century mark since 2010, per ESPN’s Tania Ganguli.
Through two games, Hopkins has received a healthy 19 targets despite Johnson being heavily involved for much of the time. The Texans wanted a receiver to match with their top receiver who could keep opposing defenses honest. It looks like they found one in Hopkins at the bottom of the first round of the draft—No. 27 overall.
Johnson thinks Hopkins has the ability to be even better than he has been for the Texans during his prolific career. We’re starting to share that belief and so is the confident Hopkins, per Sports Radio 601’s Adam Wexler:
#Texans Hopkins:"I feel like I can be better than Andre. That's what he tells me. Don't pattern yourself in someone's shadow."— Adam Wexler (@awexler) September 15, 2013
Most impressive, though, was his ability to beat defenders on contested passes. His awareness, ability to adjust to the ball when in the air and sure hands are certainly the characteristics of a top receiver in the league.
Now comes the tricky part. What do we make of Hopkins’ breakout performance in fantasy football circles?
Are you starting DeAndre Hopkins after two solid performances?
Johnson isn't expected to miss any time after being evaluated for a concussion in Week 2, per the Houston Chronicle. But if Johnson does go down this season, Hopkins may be focused on more closely by opposing secondaries.
That hasn’t stopped Schaub and Johnson from being effective in the past, though. Plus, it’s a tough decision to focus on a receiver when the Texans’ game plan largely hinges on pounding the football with Arian Foster and Ben Tate. That focus has allowed Johnson to abuse defenses in the past. Having Hopkins on the roster affords them both opportunities to make big plays on Sundays.
Hopkins will get his share of looks as a result of the team’s well-balanced attack. Even with Johnson on the field, maybe even more so, he’s worthy of WR2 consideration moving forward. He’s too talented and in too good of a situation to even think about keeping him on your bench.
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