2016’s Fantasy DeAndre Hopkins is…

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Brandin Cooks


Currently being drafted on average as the 13th wide receiver, Brandin Cooks is poised to breakout in 2016 as a top five fantasy option at his position in the same way the Houston Texans DeAndre Hopkins made the jump to the top tier of pass catchers after being drafted as the 14th wide receiver in 2015.

The comparison for fantasy impact of these young NFL wide outs goes deeper than the average draft position for each’s respective third seasons in the league. For starters there is the departure of the Saint's and Texan's franchise’s previous number one wide receivers before the season. Andre Johnson from the Texans in 2014-15, signing with the Indianapolis Colts and Marques Colston who was released by the Saints after the 2015 season.

In 2014 alongside Johnson, Hopkins saw 127 targets for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns, which is comparable to Cooks 2015 with 129 targets, 1,140 yards and nine touchdowns. When looking for your top wide receivers remember this helpful tip from NFL Fantasy Associate Matt Harmon:

Of the 120 top-24 fantasy receivers (standard scoring) in each year from 2011 to 2015:
26.7 percent finished with 150 or more targets
45.8 percent finished with 120 to 149 targets
27.5 percent finished with less than 120 targets

With that in mind while looking to predict this season’s wide receiver to jump to fantasy stardom lets dive deeper into Hopkins’ 2014 season before last season's breakout campaign that has propelled him to the first round in this year's fantasy drafts. To do so lets see how productive DeAndre in 2014 and receivers in 2015 were with passes thrown their way, or statistically the fantasy points over expectation per target (I'll simply this and call it a multiplier*), which can be found on RotoViz.

What does that mean to the "fuuuuuudge I only have 60 seconds" panicked fantasy drafter like myself?


In 2014 DeAndre Hopkins multiplier per target: .44, the 11th best of 44 wide receivers with over 100 targets. So every pass simply thrown Hopkins way was worth an extra .44 points for his fantasy owners. Brandin Cooks 2015 season placed him as the 6th best wide receiver per target with an extra .57 points per target.


Place out of WRs with 100+ Targets

Wide Receiver



Targets in 2015

Extra Fantasy Points


6th of 32

Brandin Cooks





11th of 44

DeAndre Hopkins




In 2015 Doug Baldwin led the 32 eligible wide receivers with a hyper efficient 1.16 extra points per target, but expect that to lower with the rise of Tyler Lockett (a name to remember in the 5th/6th round) while Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown had a multiplier of .59 and .53 or 5th and 8th.

Place out of 32 WRs with 100+ Targets

Wide Receiver


Targets in 2015

Extra Fantasy Points


Doug Baldwin





Odell Beckham Jr





Brandin Cooks





Antonio Brown




Expect 650 passes from Brees again just as he has for 5 of the last 6 seasons, the only exception being last season’s league leading 627 attempts while Luke McCown filled in for 39 more. Of Drew Brees 627 pass attempts in 2015, Cooks saw 19%. Saints average targets for number one receivers during Brees ten years under center is 21%.

Penil in Brandin Cooks, the clear New Orleans number one receiver, for a floor of 125 targets this year with the potential for 150; depending on how Coby Fleener and Michael Thomas transition into the offense as the Saints lose tight end Ben Watson (109 targets in 2015) and Colston (67 targets).

Cooks should maximize each of his targets just as he did going from his 2014 rookie season when he scored a touchdown three times from his 70 targets, or 4.3%. In 2015 these numbers blossomed to nine touchdown celebrations; 7% of his 129 targets. In DeAndre Hopkins first two seasons the same growth was shown as the Texan’s passing focus shifted more to him and his targets grew from 93 to 127. The Saint’s passing focus and statistics both point to Brandin Cooks as 2016’s breakout wide receiver.

If the numbers don't have you quite convinced check out this one-handed catch on Monday Night Football.

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