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Week 4 Disaster Recovery: DeAndre Hopkins


Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be focusing on one dud a week, and touching on a few others briefly. There will be two major qualifiers for these players: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

In 2015, DeAndre Hopkins recorded over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns despite playing with four different starting quarterbacks and zero good quarterbacks. In 2019, he's playing with a Pro Bowl quarterback and is averaging under 50 yards per game over the past three games. What's happening?

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Hopping Down The Bust Trail

DeAndre Hopkins' Week 4 stat-line: five receptions for 41 yards on eight targets... and an interception. 

DeAndre Hopkins' has recorded at least 1,200 yards in four of the last five seasons. The only time he didn't was during the infamous 2016 campaign, when Brock Osweiler was attempting to throw the ball his way.

During that season, Hopkins hauled in 78 of his 154 targets for 954 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged 12.2 yards per catch. The numbers weren't terrible, but they were far from what any owner who selected Hopkins in the first round would have hoped for. The worst part was that they could have been so much better if Osweiler could throw the football somewhat accurately. Hopkins had nearly 1,000 yards on by far the lowest catch rate of his career. Had Osweiler and Hopkins been able to connect on a few more balls, he likely would have had a decent season.

Hopkins' had a catch percentage of 51.7% in 2016. Through four games this season, he's caught 66.7% of his targets. He's on pace for 1,036 yards and 96 receptions on 144 targets. That's less targets than he received in 2016 and just 82 more yards.

My point is that Hopkins is barely on pace to top his yardage totals from 2016 despite catching 16% more of his targets. He's still on pace for eight touchdowns this season, but Hopkins hasn't scored since Week 1. He hasn't even been targeted in the red zone since Week 1.

Part of the reason - lack of a strong passing game. Hopkins has three games this season with eight or fewer targets and under 50 yards. In two of those games, Watson had fewer than 30 passing attempts, didn't throw for a touchdown, and didn't throw for more than 200 yards. Last week's game against Carolina was one of those duds. The week before, however, wasn't.

In Week 3, Hopkins caught six of his seven targets for 67 yards against the Chargers. This was in a game where Watson threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns. Five different players had five or more targets, and Watson chose to target his tight ends in the red zone rather than his star receiver. The Chargers have a solid pass defense, but other star receivers have been able to go to work against their secondary. In Houston's best passing performance of the year, Hopkins recorded his season-low in targets.

Week 3 proved that the Texans didn't need to force Hopkins the ball to have a successful passing attack. Weeks 2 and 4 proved that the Texans may not always have a successful passing attack. Neither of these points are going to make Hopkins owners feel better.

It seems silly for the Texans not to make it a point to get their star player the ball more in the coming weeks. The offense isn't exactly firing on all cylinders. Hopkins has also played against three very solid cornerbacks over the last three weeks, which may have played a part in Watson looking his way less often. A juicy matchup against Atlanta should serve as a prime bounce-back game for Hopkins.

The key word here is should. There's a chance that it doesn't. Hopkins received double-digit targets in 11 of his 16 games last season. This year, he's on pace for four games with double-digit targets. His lack of targets could be due to the fact he's gone against tougher competition. It could also be because the Texans have a much deeper roster of pass-catchers. Kenny Stills and Will Fuller are good receivers. Duke Johnson is a great pass-catcher out of the backfield. Watson has begun to develop chemistry with two different tight ends. The depth chart is so deep that Keke Coutee barely sees the field. This is a far superior receiving corps than Hopkins is used to playing with.

If you believe that Hopkins just ran into a string of good quarterbacks and will get back to his monster target-share in the coming weeks, hold steady and ride him out. If you think that the Texans may just be spreading the ball out more and Hopkins will just be a wheel in the offense rather than the engine, it might be time to sell while you can still get high-value for him.

I'm still willing to lean towards the former. I don't think Hopkins will approach 1,600 yards like he did last season, but I still believe he'll have well over 1,000 yards. And even if he doesn't, his current pace of 1,034 yards and eight touchdowns is fine. He's a superstar receiver with a relatively high floor. I'm still rolling the dice with Hopkins, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sweating a little.

Panic Level: 2.5/5

Here are some thoughts on a few other duds from Week 4.

 

No Need to Worry

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

I'm sorry, but if you've been complaining that you lost in Week 4 because Keenan Allen had a bad game, you're what's wrong with fantasy football. Don't cry about your now 3-1 record that Allen helped carry you to. The Chargers receiver is still on pace for 1,808 yards and 12 touchdowns despite having 48 yards and zero touchdowns in Week 4. He's going to have a monster year. Don't be an idiot and panic.

 

Plenty of Reason to Panic!

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

JuJu probably won't have many more 15-yard games this season. But how much better can it really get? His season-high is 84 yards, a number he eclipsed nine times last season. It's not JuJu's fault that Ben Roethlisberger got hurt, but Mason Rudolph certainly isn't getting the job done. I'm not ready to bench Smith-Schuster just yet, but I'm also not feeling great about playing him. It's going to be a long season for JuJu owners.

You'd have a better chance of knocking out Brock Lesnar than this player living up to his ADP: Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon's 2019 season has been so laughable that I didn't even think he warranted a full article today. The Cincinnati Bengals are a bad football team. Their head coach might be terrible and their offensive line is definitely terrible. Mixon's outlook for the rest of the season is looking bleak in this offense. Unfortunately for Mixon owners, you probably can't get good value back if you trade him, and you probably don't have better options on your bench.

Look at the bright side. In the first two weeks of the season, Mixon had 27 total rushing yards. He's quadrupled that total over the past two weeks. If Mixon can keep up his current pace, he'll almost finish with 1,000 yards! Everything is fine!

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