Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins became a star last season catching passes from Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett and Brandon Weeden. With more stability at quarterback this season, fantasy owners expected another big year from Hopkins.
But while Hopkins has caught passes from only Brock Osweiler, he hasn’t come close to his production from last season, when he ranked third in the NFL in receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,521) and had the fourth-most touchdown catches.
Through nine games, Hopkins has 45 catches for 482 yards and three touchdowns, putting him on pace for 80, 857 and five. Plus, his target share has dropped from 31 percent last season to 27.5 percent.
Hopkins still ranks 13th in the league in targets, but he and Osweiler aren’t connecting. They’ve had their moments, but Hopkins has had more than 71 yards once and he hasn’t scored a touchdown in four consecutive games.
Osweiler is relying much more on the tight ends than Texans quarterbacks did last season. Tight ends have 95 targets after going an entire season with 77. In fact, during Hopkins’ four-game run of single-digit basic scoring, tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz has outscored him 29-18.
But what’s most worrisome is the Texans’ inability to exploit favorable matchups. In Week 6 against the Colts, who rank 31st in pass defense, Hopkins had nine catches for 71 yards. Two weeks later against the Lions, who have the highest opposing completion percentage at 74.1, he caught four passes for 44 yards.
On Sunday, the Jaguars shadowed him with rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and though Osweiler looked Hopkins’ way 13 times, they connected for five catches and 48 yards. Osweiler threw for 99 yards in the game. That doesn’t bode well for prime matchups against the Raiders, Chargers and Packers in the next three weeks.
Osweiler is averaging 5.6 yards per attempt, the lowest in the league among qualifiers, and the Texans rank last in passing, averaging 187.3 yards per game. Hopkins is paying the price, ranking 36th in scoring among wideouts. So the WR1 you thought you drafted isn’t even giving you WR2 production.
Hopkins has been the biggest bust among wideouts, and he has his quarterback to thank.
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WEEK 11 OUTLOOK
Vikings WR Stefon Diggs: With the running game going nowhere, the team is leaning on Diggs, who has become a PPR monster. He has 26 catches in the last two games.
Steelers WR Eli Rogers: He has been more involved the last two weeks, and he has back-to-back 10-point games to show for it. The schedule is favorable, too.
Packers WR Randall Cobb: With only six catches in the last two games, he appears to have fallen to third in the WR pecking order behind Davante Adams.
Rams RB Todd Gurley: I’ve waited long enough to put him here. He has four consecutive games with single-digit scoring and little hope of improving.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin: Now that he got his feet wet in his first game back from injury, start him against the Chiefs’ 27th-ranked run defense.
Redskins RB Robert Kelley: Without LB Clay Matthews for the last three games, the Packers have allowed an average of 25.7 points to running backs.
Seahawks running backs: Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise could run into trouble against the Eagles, who have allowed the fifth-fewest points to running backs per game.
Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald: The Vikings’ sputtering defense could get healthy against turnover-prone Carson Palmer, and that could spell trouble for Fitzgerald.