DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson were routinely drafted as first round picks heading into 2016, but both finished the season outside the top 25 at the position in nearly all scoring formats. Thus, they earned the title of being a 2016 Bust. This has caused their price to come down moderately this season, but as WR12 and WR15 in current ADP they still require quite an investment. Therefore, examining just how high their ceiling is and how low their floor may be is a worthwhile exercise, even this early in the preseason draft process.
DeAndre Hopkins: Houston Texans
A fall in both efficiency and volume caused Hopkins to tumble from the fifth best fantasy wide receiver on a per game basis in 2015 to the 33rd best in 2016. Getting each of those factors to return to career baselines, at the very least, will be the key to whether he returns value at his current ADP.
In regards to volume, the simple answer is that it isn’t likely to come back. Hopkins is entering his fifth season in the league and has seemingly set a baseline target share of around 25%. His rookie season can be discounted at 17.44%, while it has hovered around 26% in both 2014 and 2016. That leaves his 31% target share in 2015 as the outlier of his career.
Additionally, the 619 team passing attempts the Texans posted in 2015 were the second highest team total posted in Hopkins’ career. That season was an outlier as the Texans relied on Arian Foster as their featured running back, and when he went down with an injury the team was forced to shift their reliance to the passing game. Given the presence of Lamar Miller and addition of De’Onta Foreman, that is unlikely to be the case again this year, meaning that volume is not likely to rebound to the 2015 level for Hopkins.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Hopkins, however, as his efficiency should rebound in 2016. He posted a career-worst 51.7% catch rate, 5.4% percent below his previous career worst. Given Hopkins’ previous track record and the fact that the Texans cut ties with Brock Osweiler in the offseason suggest that Hopkins can increase his efficiency once again.
Thus, keeping last year’s volume while adjusting efficiency is a reasonable way to set a baseline projection for Hopkins for the upcoming season. That would give him numbers around 89 receptions, 1,250 yards, and six touchdowns, leaving him as a good, but not great receiver, and similar to his 2014 form. He finished as the 18th WR in fantasy points per game that season which leaves him slightly overvalued this year, but unlikely to kill your fantasy season, unlike 2016.
Allen Robinson: Jacksonville Jaguars
Robinson suffered a similar fate to Hopkins last year in terms his fantasy production, but he was able to maintain his volume from his breakout 201t season. His efficiency was lacking, however, and those factors could flip this season making it questionable as to whether he will be able to return his price tag in drafts this season.
With the Jaguars drafting Leonard Fournette fourth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, the team signaled a change in their offensive philosophy. The Jaguars ranked 5th and 12th respectively in pass attempts per game in 2016 and 2015. However, with what should be an improved and potentially strong defense, the Jaguars are unlikely to finish in the top half of pass attempts per game as a team this season. That means that while Robinson remains the clear number one receiver in Jacksonville, he may be hard pressed to get over 150 targets again in 2017.
On the other hand, with an improved rushing game, Robinson’s efficiency could improve. Last year was an especially abysmal season for him in that regard, as he converted just 48% of his targets into receptions. Even if that improves to his career baseline this season, slightly over 50% that will be enough to increase his fantasy value once again.
Like Hopkins, that gives fantasy owners a place to start for a baseline season projection. A slight dip in targets could reasonably put a season-long projection at 135 targets. Converting those targets at a 55% rate sets him at 74 receptions, and with an average of 14 yards per catch he would record just over 1,000 yards. That alone would leave him underwhelming yet again, but he has shown that ability to rack up touchdowns. If he can do so again, the rest of his number are good enough for him to return value at his current ADP late in the third round.