Through five weeks of the 2015 NFL Season, Houston Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins has 42 receptions for 578 yards and 3 touchdowns. It may be hard to wrap your brain around that number, but if he continues on his current pace he will finish the season with 134 receptions for 1,850 yards and 10 touchdowns. That would give him both the second most receptions and the second most receiving yards by a player ever in a single season. So is this just a hot start that will fade away, or does DeAndre Hopkins really have this caliber of skills?
If Hopkins can continue this tear, it will put him up among names like Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice, Marvin Harrison, and Antonio Brown in terms of elite single-season production. Coming into 2015, many people expected Hopkins to be dominant but few expected him to emerge as the league’s top receiving option. Probably the most impressive part of all of this is the fact that he is doing it right in the middle of a rather terrible quarterback situation.
The other players listed accomplished their outstanding receiving seasons by catching passes from elite quarterbacks in Steve Young, Peyton Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. Only Calvin Johnson can claim to have a similar situation as he plays alongside annually disappointing Matthew Stafford, but even Stafford has always played better than the Texans quarterbacks this season.
Quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett have combined to complete only 57% of their passes for just over 1,500 yards and 8 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. Hoyer and Mallett rank 26th and 35th respectively in completion percentage among 35 qualified quarterbacks. They’ve combined to throw the 5th most interceptions in the league. Somehow, DeAndre Hopkins is still putting up one of the best receiving seasons we’ve seen in recent years.
Part of that is certainly due to the rest of the team’s ineffectiveness. Running back Arian Foster missed the team’s first several games, and the Texans are 20th in the league in rushing yards and 28th in terms of yards per attempt. The defense has been an enormous disappointment, as what was expected to be an elite unit has given up the 10th most points so far this season, and is right at the league average in yards allowed. Houston has had to pass the ball to stay in games, and when they pass they look at Hopkins.
The third year receiver out of Clemson has finally emerged as the true star that those who watched him play in college knew he could be. His numbers this season aren’t surprising to anyone who has actually watched the wideout play, as he’s shown great hands, speed, quickness, and physicality. He’s struggled to shine statistically because he has never been the only elite offensive weapon on his team.
He spent his first two seasons in the league playing second fiddle to future Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate Andre Johnson. Even in college, Hopkins played alongside NFL talents such as Martavis Bryant, Andre Ellington, and Sammy Watkins, and was rarely the clear first option for his team’s offense. Now that Johnson is playing for the Colts, and with star running back Arian Foster out for the first several weeks of the season, Hopkins was finally able to truly emerge.
It’s difficult to know if he will have the type of career that some of the players with his type of stats have had, or if he will even finish this season as strongly as he started it, but my money is on Hopkins to perform. He hasn’t missed a game to this point in his NFL career, and his average of 70 receiving yards per game is only going up each week. DeAndre Hopkins is the real deal, and he’s the kind of superstar that the Texans should build an offense around.