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What You Need to Know:
- Hopkins’ numbers sunk across the board last season, resulting in a 27th-place PPR finish.
- Decreased volume and efficiency were both culprits.
- His volume might not grow in 2017, but Hopkins’ efficiency is a good bet to improve with better QB play from Deshaun Watson (or even Tom Savage).
How do you go from a 111-1,521-11 line and 4th-place PPR finish in 2015 to a 78-954-4 and 27th-place ranking in 2016? Let’s break it down …
One of the biggest drivers of Hopkins’ huge 2015 campaign was volume. His 192 targets ranked 3rd that season and were the 5th highest total by any player over the past 10 years.
Hopkins’ target sunk by 21.4% to 151 in 2016. The Texans threw it less — 583 attempts vs. 619 the previous year — and Hopkins’ target share dropped from 31.0% to 25.9%.
Still, his 151 looks tied for 7th most among WRs, so that wasn’t the main problem. Instead, it was a step back in efficiency that stung Hopkins.
He hauled in 57.8% of his targets and averaged 13.7 yards per catch back in 2015. His 7.92 yards per target that year ranked 45th among 91 WRs with 50+ looks.
This past season, Hopkins mustered just a 51.7% catch rate and 12.2 yards per catch. He averaged only 6.32 yards per target — 76th among 92 WRs who saw 50+ targets.
Finally, Hopkins’ TDs plummeted from 11 to 4. He saw just 9 red-zone targets last season after gobbling up 22 in 2015.
Who’s to blame?
QB play was obviously a big culprit. A quartet of Texans combined to complete 57.8% of passes for 4,079 yards and 29 TDs in 2015. Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage connected on 59.9% of their attempts last year but totaled just 3,418 yards and 15 scores. Houston ranked 29th in passing yards and 30th in TDs.
Hopkins deserves some of the blame, too, though. He was less efficient compared to his teammates in 2016 vs. 2015. Last year, Hopkins posted a 51.7% catch rate and 6.32 yards per target. All other Texans hauled in 63.1% of their targets and averaged 5.78 yards per target. In 2015, Hopkins trailed all other Texans just 57.8% to 58.7% in catch rate and bested them 7.92 to 6.08 in yards per targets.
What to expect in 2017
We didn’t necessarily notice any regression in Hopkins’ game. More likely is that he suffered as a result of increased defensive attention after that massive 2015 season.
A step forward from WR Will Fuller in his 2nd season would help alleviate that. Fuller got off to a hot start last year, with 323 yards and 2 TDs in his first 4 games. But he didn’t score or top 60 yards in any of his final 10 games.
Hopkins should also benefit from improved QB play in 2017. (It’d be tough for it to be much worse.) Houston traded up to select Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick of this year’s draft. The Clemson product completed 67.4% of his college passes and is a threat with his legs. Expect Watson to overtake Tom Savage for the starting job early this season.
And volume? We can’t expect Hopkins to return to the 192 targets of 2015. But there’s no reason he can’t see another 150 or so looks. The Texans didn’t add any competition for targets this offseason.
Draft Sharks Bottom Line:
Hopkins was a major disappointment last year, finishing 27th among WRs in PPR points after going in the 1st round of most drafts. He suffered from both decreased volume and decreased efficiency.
Expect the volume to remain in the same ballpark in 2017. But Hopkins’ efficiency should improve with better QB play from Deshaun Watson (or even Tom Savage). He’s fine to target as a WR2 — and could climb back into WR1 territory if Watson makes a quick adjustment to the pro game.