For more than a year now I have been one of DeAndre Hopkins’ biggest supporters. In DeAndre the Giant I made the case that Hopkins was an SEC giant slayer. In DeAndre Hopkins and 2012’s Clutch Receiver I detailed his propensity to come through in tough spots. All things considered, I had no choice but to rank him #1 in The 2013 RotoViz Composite Rookie WR Rankings.
Fast forward through his 2013 rookie season and we see that he played, and started, in all 16 games for the hapless Texans, hauling in 52 balls for 802 yards and two touchdowns. I think that’s a pretty impressive line for a rookie on such a bad team, but some people– I’m looking at you, Rotoworld– were less impressed. RotoWorld said on December 22nd that “‘Nuk’ has been an indisputable disappointment as a rookie.”
Um, okay? Here’s why RotoWorld is WAAAY off base with their comment:
The first thing to realize about DeAndre Hopkins is that he played his rookie season at age 21, which is a rare feat. If you compare his 2013 performance to every other 21 year old receiver in NFL history (using Pro Football Reference’s season finder), you can see that he ranks 9th all-time in receiving yards per game. Not too shabby.
While the 9th all-time ranking is impressive, I’m actually more amazed by the raw numbers. On a yardage basis, Hopkins recorded the 4th highest total in NFL history. The reason for his jump from 9th (avg) to 4th (raw) is because he played in all 16 games. Typically I’d go for the high efficiency player, but I credit Hopkins for “surviving” a 16 game schedule as a 21 year old; something about that defies probability. (Again with the Pro Football Reference’s season finder)
Perhaps RotoWorld was looking at this matter from a fantasy angle; was Hopkins a disappointment in that capacity? I don’t know. Do you consider the 12th best 21 year old fantasy season EVER to be a disappointment? Note that everyone above him has at least 4 TDs. If Nuk hit that mark he would have jumped up to #8. (via the Pro Football Reference’s season finder)
I’m not really sure what more you could ask of him. No, he wasn’t Keenan Allen, but he was pretty damn good, all things considered. Things should get way better in year 2 with a new QB and new head coach. If people in your league are down on DeAndre Hopkins this offseason, or next fall during your draft, get him on your team. He’s gotten better every year since 2010 and there’s no reason to think his ascent will slow in 2014.