In this week’s ADP Duel, we jump into the receiver position to look at two wideouts with high expectations in Texas. Both Dez Bryant and DeAndre Hopkins have all the talent in the world, but like with most receivers, their value will be directly tied to the talent of the team’s quarterback. For the past few seasons, many Fantasy owners have adopted a WR-heavy draft strategy in the early rounds, tackling other positions in the middle rounds. The only downside to this is that you must hit on that WR1, because if he busts, you will be scraping by on a weekly basis for wins. The best advice for any of your early round selections is to handle with care. Be sure of the player you are selecting, and move on to the next round. With the NFL starting to lean towards more balanced offenses again, these receivers that you are looking at in the early rounds are becoming as important as the top end of the running back position. The depth that the WR position offers in the mid to late rounds is starting to become iffy at best, making these players ever so important to the outlook of your team.
Dez Bryant- ADP 19
Dez Bryant is coming into the 2017 season healthy for what seems like the first time in three years. Multiple seasons of foot injuries have derailed his potential. Since the Cowboys have shifted their offensive philosophy, what should you expect from Bryant? He missed three games in 2016 and finished with a meager 50 catches, but he did get into the end zone eight times. He will not be a PPR monster for your team, but can definitely hold his own as a WR1 in standard formats. Up to Week 7, Bryant had only given you 11 catches and one TD last season. But after the bye week, the rapport with Dak Prescott started to show and he was one of the better receivers in Fantasy down the stretch.
With a complete offseason to work with Prescott, and finally being fully healthy, Bryant could be in store for a return to the top tier of Fantasy WRs. Even with the offense being run through Ezekiel Elliott, Bryant gets his chances early and often. The offensive game-plan generally likes to get him involved early to back the defenders off the line of scrimmage. He should improve upon the 50 catches from a year ago, so I have him projected to finish with 74 receptions for 1,092 yards. Double-digit scores are a possibility for Bryant in 2017, making him a WR1 in any format. You will just have to live with the occasional game in which he tends to disappear.
DeAndre Hopkins- ADP 21
One of the biggest busts of the 2016 season, DeAndre Hopkins was a Fantasy first round pick who was nearly a death stroke for the owners that took the risk. His end of the year stats (78/954/4) was far from what you expected from a player drafted midway through the first round. But most of his struggles were directly attributed to the poor play from Brock Osweiler. Osweiler would at times continue to force the ball to Hopkins whether he ran an intermediate or long route and no matter the coverage. This, of course, led to many turnovers and inconsistency in the passing attack. Hopkins started off quickly with touchdowns in the first two games, but he only scored two more TDs over the last 14 games. Now with Osweiler gone, can he rebound and restore his place in the WR pecking order?
The Texans will be turning to either Tom Savage or DeShaun Watson under center in 2017. We haven’t seen much out of Savage, and Watson is a rookie who has a lot to learn, going from a spread attack in college to now learning to read defenses. This could be another learning curve year for Hopkins, as he has to develop a rapport with a new QB. I expect him to hover around similar catch and yardage numbers in 2017, but his value will be connected to how many times he can score this year. The best bet for Hopkins will be for Watson to win the job in camp. He brings an element to this offense that was lacking last year, as he can escape the pocket and extend plays. This will allow Hopkins to break off routes and get open downfield for big gains. However, we don’t know how this will play out until late in the preseason.
So, you’re sitting there in early Round 2, and these two players are staring you in the face. What do you do? If I’m presented with this situation in a draft, the pick will be easily made for me – Dez Bryant. Both players have excellent skill sets, but Bryant will be playing in a more stable offense in which he will receive plenty of looks in the red zone. The potential for double-digit scores is hard to ignore. Whereas I can’t see Hopkins getting more than six TDs this year. The pick of Dez Bryant will bring more value to your team in 2017, and he should be the player you go with here.