Third Ranked Post-Hype Sleeper
The fantasy football community is a fickle group that often falls in love with the “next big thing.” That’s not to say this is a bad thing – Andrew Luck owners certainly aren’t apologizing – but what happens when that stud prospect disappoints you?
It’s the same thing that usually happens when you have a bad first experience at a restaurant or you’re rejected from the prom by your dream date … you dismiss whatever caused you that agony from your life … forever.
Why go back to Italian Restaurant A when there are plenty that you’ve yet to try and plenty more being built? Why waste your time with this prom date when there are plenty of other fish in the sea? Why go back to a running back that failed to meet your lofty expectations after he cost you any shot at contending?
The restaurant/prom date example have one very big difference to the fantasy football example: Your ability to succeed has nothing to do with the options you’ve dismissed. You’re not going to enjoy the veal parm (with vodka sauce) at the “next big” eatery any less if you hear that Italian Restaurant A is now thriving. Your senior ball wasn’t ruined because your love interest wasn’t by your side the year prior. But the fantasy world, my friends, is a different animal. Your avoidance of a player who disappointed you before could lead your rival owner to glory this year.
Don’t forget, we are fantasy owners. In redraft leagues, we are not in charge of signing these players to contracts. We are in the “what will you do for me tomorrow” business, a business that requires us to have a short memory and make the best decisions for the current moment. These three players were the “next big thing” at one point, but they are now considered ordinary fantasy assets by most. Don’t make that mistake. These three post-hype sleepers are just as capable of producing the big time season that we once assumed was destiny, making those who have learned to treat every single NFL season as its own entity the owners that will thrive in 2014.
3. DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU)
ESPN: 94th overall player and the 40th ranked wide receiver
Yahoo!: 115th overall player and the 47th ranked wide receiver
Company: He is ranked behind Anquan Boldin on both ESPN and Yahoo!. The potentially suspended Josh Gordon is still slotted ahead of Hopkins on ESPN, while a trio of incoming rooks (Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Evans) are preferred by Yahoo!.
Bold: I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he outproduced Torrey Smith this season.
It was just one year ago that Hopkins was viewed as a player who had the highest immediate fantasy upside of any receiver taken in the 2013 NFL Draft, but after one solid (52 catches for 802 yards and 2 touchdowns), not spectacular, season, many analysts not only have downgraded him to the fourth best fantasy WR from that draft, but they also have moved two to three members of the 2014 Draft class ahead of him. But why?
Matt Schaub had a historically bad season and the Texans dropped 14 straight games, yet Hopkins had better fantasy numbers in his rookie campaign than Jordy Nelson accumulated in his first two seasons (both with Aaron Rodgers under center) combined. Hopkins is still the physical specimen he was this time last year, and with Ryan Fitzpatrick positioned to win the quarterback battle in Houston, his justification of the hype should come one year late.
Did you know that over the course of the last four seasons, Fitzpatrick is averaging nearly 3,700 passing yards and 25 touchdowns per 16 games started? He may not win ball games with any sort of consistency, but he constantly gives his receivers an opportunity to make plays down the field (heck, he quarterbacked an awful Bills team, but managed to have Stevie Johnson, Lee Evans, and Roscoe Parrish all average over 44 yards per game and 12 yards per catch), and that is more than Hopkins had in 2013.
Even last season, filling in for an injured Jake Locker on a Titans team that was without Kenny Britt, Fitzpatrick displayed the skills it will take to launch Hopkins up draft boards this year. No quarterback in this pass-happy league (minimum 60 percent completion percentage and 36 drop backs per game), not one, had a higher percentage of his yards come in the air and a higher overall grade in PFF’s innovative QB rating system. He averaged a career-high 7.01 yards per pass attempt, a style of play that should fit nicely into a Texans offense that boasts two super-sized wideouts. Hopkins didn’t offer high-end fantasy production in his first season, but keep the faith, as the deck is stacked in his favor to deliver a bit more on that promise this season.
Next best “Post Hype Sleeper” at receiver: Marques Colston