Fantasy football players, take note: DeAndre Hopkins is going to be a beast.
I was at the gym several weeks ago getting ready for some dumbbell flyes and glanced at one of the gym televisions. ESPN was showing highlights of a receiver from Clemson. I almost dropped the dumbbells on my toes. I was instantly enamored with the player they were featuring. The sound was off on the TV set, but my eyes saw nothing but football poetry. It was pure eye comfit. Who was this guy?
I probably had heard DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins’ name bantered around before. After all, he tallied twelve 100+ yard receiving games in his three years at Clemson, and established a new ACC mark with 18 touchdowns last season, but that day at the gym was my first true introduction to the guy. I have since read a lot of scouting reports that gush about his talents. I didn’t need those reports. Those highlight reels told me everything.
As many of you know, I’m a Viking fan. (Oh, the pain!) After seeing the clips of Nuk on the gym TV, I was hoping against hope that somehow he would end up on the Purple’s roster. It was not to be. The Vikings had their opportunity, but chose to go in other directions. Houston happily gobbled him up with the 27th pick of the 1st round.
Hopkins was the 2nd wide receiver taken in the draft. Chosen ahead of him was diminutive Tavon Austin. Yes, Austin is electric, and has the moves to go the distance any time he has the ball tucked in his arms. But when history plays itself out, it’s my belief that Hopkins will prove to be the best wide receiver to come out of this draft.
Matt Schaub is an above average quarterback in the NFL. Hopkins will make him a better one. Most wide receivers, including Hopkins, have great hands, but what makes Hopkins special is his fight for the ball. If Schaub can get the ball in the zip code, he can have the confidence that Nuk will come down with it. Hopkins is a solid route-runner, creates separation, and has tremendous body control. He’ll make adjustments to the ball while it’s in the air, and put himself in position to make the catch. He has strong hands in traffic. At 6′-1″, 214 lbs, Hopkins will also be a threat in the red zone.
There’s more. Hopkins does not go down easily. Once he catches the ball, he’ll run through arm tackles. And if he finds open space, he has the straight-line jets to take it to the house.
If you play fantasy football, remember Hopkins’ name. Check the cheat sheets before your draft. Wherever they have him listed, bump him up a few spots to make sure you land him on your roster. You’ll be glad you did. He’ll perform at a level comparable to many of the elite veteran wide receivers this season. And if you play in a dynasty league, make double sure you nab him. Barring injury or legal trouble, Hopkins will be a dominant wide out for years to come.
As always, run to daylight.~Randy