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First Down: Andre's angst has Hopkins rising on fantasy draft boards

Brad Evans
Roto Arcade
DeAndre Hopkins
.

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Hopkins could very well be this year's version of Kendall Wright. 

When it comes to NFL wide receivers Andre Johnson is a bit of a wallflower. Despite wallowing in mediocrity for the better part of 11years – the Texans have just two playoff berths to speak of during that time – he’s been punctual for mandatory practices and camps, kept to himself and churned out consistent production. Unlike so many egotistical WR divas that throw repeated temper tantrums or insist on conceited requests, he remained selfless, a consummate employee, a consummate professional.

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However, like anyone who grows tired of the same old (expletive) at work, Johnson has reached a breaking point.

Road meet fork.

For the first time in his career, the inflamed 33-year-old, who is tired of ineffective seasons and rebuilding phases, is speaking out. He made his disgruntled stance well-known by skipping minicamp in June. Now, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapport, Johnson, presumably with bullhorn in hand, has ramped up his embitterment. With the Texans on a path to another uneventful year, he recently told the organization he wants to be traded ... NOW!

I guess he isn’t a fan of the Amish or quarterbacks that resemble them (e.g. Ryan Fitzpatrick).

If the seven-time Pro Bowler remains in Houston, he’s sure to underwhelm. Yes, Bill O’Brien, a former assistant under Bill Belichick in New England, featured an air-heavy attack in the past, but he also had some dude named Tom Brady running the offense.  All indications suggest, with a noodle-armed QB under center, the head coach wants to install a more conservative scheme predicated on ball control. That means, assuming Houston’s talented defense can rise to the occasion, more Arian Foster and less Andre. Another 181 targets probably aren’t in the cards. Six-plus touchdowns, which he hasn’t tallied in a season since 2008, may not be either, making it hard to justify his top-40 price point (36.7 ADP, WR15) in non-PPR formats.

Whether Johnson sticks around or not – New York (Jets), Oakland, Cleveland and New England are rumored destinations – DeAndre Hopkins is sure to benefit.

While No. 80 was absent in minicamp, he bonded with Fitzpatrick. The former Clemson standout admitted learning his third offense in three years hasn’t been easy, but, similar to Kendall Wright last year, his skill set meshes perfectly with the QB’s nickel-and-dime style. His size, sharp routes and tacky hands – he hauled in 52 of 53 catchable balls last year according to Pro Football Focus – could terrorize defenses in the short-to-intermediate field. Hopkins must improve his after catch performance (3.4 YAC in ’13), but the second-year target is on track to fatten his 52-802-2 line tallied as a rookie. A top-shelf WR3 effort in PPR could be in the offing. It’s stunning he’s going around pick No. 129 (WR61) in average Yahoo drafts. Stunning.

As for Johnson, he’s open to restructuring his contract but refuses to surrender a single cent. Any team that attempts to acquire his services would be forced to take a $15.6 million cap hit, which suggests his odds of changing uniforms appear long.

Johnson has been a pillar in Houston for a decade plus, but his increased saltiness toward the organization could pave the way for a Hopkins breakout. 

Move the youngster up your cheat sheet. 

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