Dynasty Debate: Cordarrelle Patterson vs. DeAndre Hopkins
Players 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|
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**|
*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