As you rigorously prepare and research leading into each fantasy football season, you’ll always find some new/less familiar names near the top of the list. “Introducing” will be a series that features these lesser known players who are expected to begin the season in heavily featured roles for the very first time. Never shy away from players just because they’re yet to make a name for themselves … yet.


DeAndre Hopkins — WR, Houston Texans

Hopkins went from having a nice rookie season in 2013 (802 yards and a pair of touchdowns), to becoming a very solid fantasy option in 2014 (1,210 yards and six touchdowns). In 2015, Hopkins has every reason to continue his growth into an elite fantasy WR.

Seriously, everything is working in this guy’s favor (for fantasy purposes at least). At the rate he’s developed thus far in his career, Hopkins likely would find a way to breakout this season no matter what hand he was dealt. His 1,210 yards last year ranked 12th in the NFL, and that was with Andre Johnson receiving 20 more targets than he did.

Johnson will be catching passes from Andrew Luck in Indy in 2015, which means Hopkins is stepping into the WR1 role. Andre only managed 936 yards and three TDs last season, but his 147 targets ranked FIFTH in the league. Expect Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts to work their way into the offense this season, but the bulk of those throws are now going to be headed in Hopkins’ direction.

Although it’s never fun to see a fantasy stud get injured, we also can’t forget that Arian Foster is going to miss a huge chunk of this season. Although Houston will likely platoon Alfred Blue with a RB that’s TBD, it may also air the ball out a bit more in Foster’s absence. Again, expect the bulk of those extra looks to favor Hopkins.

Finally, the QB situation in Houston last season was a mess. The Texans started the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm before going into a revolving door that included a switch to Ryan Mallet, then back to Fitzpatrick, and eventually finishing the season with Case Keenum as the starter. We’ll just call that not ideal circumstances for a WR to find a rhythm.

Despite all the change, Hopkins still managed to produce a successful fantasy season. If Brian Hoyer can stay on the field in 2015, and build some chemistry with Hopkins, he could be even more dangerous with a consistent QB in the mix.

DeAndre Hopkins is going to be elite in 2015. Don’t be surprised if he’s able to haul in 1,500 yards and maybe even double digit touchdowns. But even more encouraging for fantasy purposes, Hopkins is going to see a monster workload this season. He should finish in the top-five in targets, and do a whole lot more than Johnson did with it last year.

Find me on Twitter @julianedlow

Want to read more from the “Introducing” series? Find all the players covered below.

Carlos Hyde — RB, San Francisco 49ers

Brandin Cooks — WR, New Orleans Saints

Latavius Murray — RB, Oakland Raiders

Jordan Matthews — WR, Philadelphia Eagles