Dynasty Debate: Cordarrelle Patterson vs. DeAndre Hopkins

Joey Cartolano argues for Deandre Hopkins in a growing Dynasty debate between he and Cordarelle Patterson

| 3 years ago
deandre hopkins

Dynasty Debate: Cordarrelle Patterson vs. DeAndre Hopkins

deandre hopkinsPlayers coming off of their rookie years are highly sought after this time of year in Dynasty leagues, as they should be. We now have a full season’s worth of data to go on, and have a good idea of who has what it takes to make it at the pro level. At the same time, these players are extremely young and haven’t yet reached their production frontier or maximum price, making them ideal trade targets in Dynasty leagues.

Keenan Allen has clearly established himself as the top receiver in this rookie class at the tender age of 21. He is tied to a proven quarterback who still has several prime years left and blew everyone else in this class out of the water statistically with 79 catches on 113 targets (69.9% catch rate) for 1,209 yards (15.3 YPC) and 10 touchdowns.

While Allen is clearly atop the hierarchy of soon-to-be second-year receivers, there is some debate as to who is the number two wideout from this class between Cordarrelle Patterson of the Vikings and DeAndre Hopkins of the Texans. Other than burgeoning bust Tavon Austin, these two were the only wide receivers taken in the first round of last year’s NFL Draft. Based on the most recent ADP Data from the fine gentlemen over at DynastyLeagueFootball.com, Patterson (ADP of 19.7) is valued over Hopkins (ADP 33.7) by a good margin at the moment.

Given that I would prefer the Texans’ rookie to his Vikings’ counterpart anyway, I wanted to take a closer look at these two standout rookies and shed some light on why the price difference between them presents a significant opportunity to add value to your Dynasty team. First we put the microscope on Patterson.


The AP Effect

On Nov. 17 against Seattle, all-world running back and carry hog Adrian Peterson showed the first signs of a groin injury that would hamper him the rest of the season, in addition to an ankle injury he would sustain three weeks later in Baltimore that essentially put his season to bed.

Below are Cordarrelle Patterson’s stats in the nine games prior to Peterson’s injury, and the seven games that followed:

  TA Rec. % Ct aDOT Yds Yds / Rec. TD
Pre Injury 26 18 69.23% 7.9 168 9.33 1
Post Injury 46 27 58.70% 8.9 301 11.15 3

And rushing:

  Att. Yds Avg. LG TD
Pre Injury 2 2 1.0 2 0
Post Injury 10 156 15.6 50 3

There are a few important differences in these stat lines. Most notably, Patterson’s usage increased significantly as the Vikings desperately needed a playmaker with Peterson forced into limited snaps and sitting out two of the team’s final three games. Despite playing two fewer games, Patterson saw his targets nearly double from 26 to 46, and his carries go from a total of two to 10. He scored six of his seven offensive touchdowns during this time frame. 64 percent of his targets and 83 percent of his rushing attempts also occurred during this seven-game stretch.

The stats that Patterson put up in these seven games are impressive, but an argument can be made that they are somewhat artificially inflated by the Vikings force-feeding him toward the end of a lost season with a banged-up Adrian Peterson. His increase in per-game usage shows that the coaches made a conscious effort to get the ball in his hands. After averaging barely over three opportunities (targets plus carries) in the first nine games of the year with a healthy Peterson, he averaged eight opportunities over the final seven games. He averaged 5.25 per game on 84 opportunities on the season.

Patterson’s superior catch rate on the season (62.5% to Hopkins’ 57.1%) is also buoyed by these first nine games in which he caught 69.23 percent of his targets when the Vikings threw him short passes to make him comfortable catching the ball. This is confirmed by his meager 7.9 average depth of target (aDOT) over that span (by comparison, Hopkins averaged a 14.2 aDOT on the year). His 58.7 percent catch rate during the seven games when he received real targets is a better reflection of his true catch rate, but even in those games his aDOT remained at a subpar 8.9 for an average of 8.5 on the season.


 Efficiency is King

Hopkins finished his rookie season with 52 receptions for 802 yards (15.4 YPC) and two TDs. I have often paralleled him to Roddy White. Comparing Hopkins’ rookie year numbers to White’s (29 catches for 446 yards, the same 15.4 YPC, and three touchdowns) shows a player who is well ahead of the veteran’s rookie pace despite being just 21 years old until June. For comparison’s sake, Patterson will be 23 in March.

Although the former Clemson Tiger did not receive a single carry his rookie year, he still had more opportunities (targets) than Patterson with 91, good for an average of 5.69 per game, just above Patterson’s mark. The real discrepancy appears when you look at what they did with those opportunities:

  Targets Rec. Rushing Attempts Yards from Scrimmage Yards per Opportunity* Yards Per Touch**
Patterson 72 45 12 627 7.46 11.00
Hopkins 91 52 0 802 8.81 15.42

*Opportunities defined as Targets plus Rushing Attempts

**Touches defined as Receptions plus Rushing Attempts


Hopkins had better efficiency on both a per-opportunity and per-touch basis, the latter by a significant margin. This means that Patterson is more reliant on volume than Hopkins.

There is a good chance that Patterson scores more fantasy points than DeAndre Hopkins next year. Andre Johnson is still the man in Houston. But Dynasty owners cannot afford to be so shortsighted. Hopkins is a known red zone threat, but was held to just two touchdowns this year. I’d be willing to be that total is among his career lows, and Johnson is 32 years old. He was dealing with a dumpster fire at quarterback and the team in general, but still put up respectable numbers that no one is talking about because of Keenan Allen and the Vikings forcefeeding the ball to Patterson down the stretch.

Bill O’Brien will most likely use the No. 1 pick in the draft on a shiny new quarterback for Hopkins to develop with. Perhaps most importantly, you can hear Andre Johnson’s work ethic coming out of the young Hopkins’ mouth when he speaks. One couldn’t ask for a better mentor.

He may not have Patterson’s upside, especially in leagues that count return touchdowns, but I’d rather have Hopkins as I think he will be a consistent back-end WR1 for years, similar to White, as opposed to the peaks and valleys that Patterson will probably bring. While these peaks might single-handedly win you weeks, I don’t think the two players’ upside is disparate enough to justify the current price difference between them. I need to see what happens at the quarterback position in Minnesota and how he performs with a healthy Adrian Peterson before declaring Patterson a future WR1, which I feel comfortable labeling Hopkins as. If you have Patterson and can get Hopkins plus other assets for him, I would strongly consider it.

Follow Joey on Twitter @PFF_Joey

Joey Cartolano has been contributing dynasty, redraft, developmental and DFS content since 2013. He also makes regular appearances on PFF Radio's Dynasty Slant.

  • Cameron Connally

    Bravo. That was a great read. I have read a few articles talking about how Deandre Hopkins isn’t anything special and that he’s essentially mediocre (Crabtree anyone, haha). While I don’t think he’s in the AJ, Dez or Gordan category, I think he’s right in the ‘back end WR1′ category as Joey put it. If he gets a decent QB, I can’t wait to see what he does in the next few years. As always, thanks for all of the great statistical analysis.

  • ThenAtlasSpoke

    If you’re breaking down the year, how about this…Hopkins averaged 6/81/.3 in his first three games then 2.6/43/.1 from game 4 on…you know, after NFL DCs recognized and started exploiting his weaknesses. In fact, using PFF’s own performance metrics, from game four on, he was outperformed on a per-play basis by no fewer than 12 other rookie receivers.

    With the implementation of the New England-style Erhardt-Perkins system, Hopkins now moves into an offense in which he has no visible, significant role. He’s not a good fit for the Welker/Edelman role in the slot. Andre Johnson will be given the Randy Moss role. That leaves Hopkins as…Jabar Gaffney. Meanwhile, Patterson moves into the Michael Irvin/Vincent Jackson/Josh Gordon role of Norv Turner’s offense.

    Also, most of those other former rookies who outperformed Hopkins from week four on will now move into the starting role that Hopkins was handed and enjoyed throughout in his rookie season, vastly improving their own stats. So sure…go ahead…run with Hopkins as your dynasty pick.

    • Joey

      Right, Patterson is just going to all of a sudden become a downfield threat like Irvin Jackson and Gordon despite showing ZERO ability to catch the ball past 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, which the numbers I present prove.

      • ThenAtlasSpoke

        Unfortunately your numbers prove nothing of the sort. All they prove is that Patterson’s ROLE in Bill Musgrave’s offensive SYSTEM was to run short routes. You know…like Percy Harvin did. Are you saying Percy Harvin can only catch passes under 10 yards??? Didn’t think so.

        You see the operative word in “average depth of target” is “target”, meaning it has very little to do with “catch” except as a limiting factor. After all, the stat isn’t aDOC, it’s aDOT.

        I highlight the words “role” and “system” because they are integral to aDOT. In fact your own Mike Clay notes that as one of the primary uses for aDOT: “…the aDOT gives us a much better picture of this player’s ROLE.” https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/04/03/fantasy-introducing-%E2%80%98average-depth-of-target%E2%80%99/

        The fact is that roles and systems have a HUGE impact on a receiver’s aDOT and that was exactly my point with Patterson. Patterson’s going from running the micro-routes Musgrave had both him and Percy Harvin running to a Norv Turner system that — according to Matthew Berry and I’m assuming ESPN’s stat service — over the past 5 years (as of 2013) was eclipsed only by the Colts for the number of pass attempts travelling 15 yards or more yards downfield. And need I remind you that in 2013, the beneficiary of Turner’s Air Coryell system was Josh Gordon so I doubt that changed much. It’s pretty simple. Musgrave = horizontal offense = low aDOT…Turner = vertical offense = high aDOT. What you should be doing is correlating offensive play-caller to depth of target and I can virtually guarantee you will find some systems have deeper average targets than other systems.

        And we still haven’t gotten to Hopkins’ role in Bill O`Brien’s offense which, again, looks largely like that of Jabar Gaffney in New England. Or perhaps you didn’t notice Hopkins had all of 0 targets in nearly a half of action in the pre-season opener? And that was with the “best case” scenario of Andre Johnson being out.