DeAndre Hopkins Will Be No. 1 Wide Receiver in NFL in 2018
By Brandon Ray
Special to Pro Football Guru
The Houston Texans are coming off a disappointing 2017 campaign. Looking to compete for another AFC South championship, the injury bug came for a visit and it cost them big time. In Week 5, they lost outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and defensive end J.J. Watt for the season. A few weeks later, rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson went down for the remainder of the year. With his loss, the Texans would win only one game for the remainder of the season. The team switched the starting quarterback role between Tom Savage and T.J. Yates, which did not work out. The only kind of production they received was from superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
The great debate about who the best wide receiver in the NFL these days is usually a debate between Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and Atlanta’s Julio Jones. Hopkins is talked about as a top receiver, but rarely as the best. The 2018 season may be Hopkins’ opportunity to claim the throne as the league’s’ top receiver in the game. He was ranked fourth in the league this past season with 1,378 receiving yards and led all players with 13 touchdown grabs.
A closer look at Hopkins 2017 season showed that he and Watson were on the same page. In the seven games they played together, the Texans’ wideout totaled 45 catches for 606 yards and seven touchdowns. With Watson gone, the veteran pass-catcher would haul in 47 catches for 772 yards and six touchdowns the remainder of the season. He played at a consistent rate no matter who was throwing him the ball. And not many receivers in the game are able to adjust to different quarterbacks.
Can Hopkins be the best in 2018?
Assuming he stays healthy, this could be a career year for Houston’s top pass-catcher. And if Watson picks up where he left off, the two are poised to become the potential “next big thing” in the NFL.
Looking ahead, there are six possibly games where Hopkins could explode and make his mark. The Texans will face the New England Patriots, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and New York Giants, as well as the Indianapolis Colts twice. These opponents are coming off shaky seasons when it comes to their pass defense.
Not to take anything away from guys like Brown, Jones or the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. because they are all special players with unbelievable talent. However, Hopkins is in an ideal position to succeed in a big way, especially if Watson continues what he started last season.