Almost nothing in fantasy hurts worse than being let down by a highly drafted player. In Dead or Alive, we’ll take a look at some of 2016’s most underwhelming performers and try to predict how they’ll fare in the upcoming season. (But if you get burned again, that’s totally on you.)

Do you remember 2015? Back when DeAndre Hopkins was third in receiving yards behind Julio Jones and Antonio Brown? When he averaged 20.1 PPG in PPR scoring, good enough for sixth among all non-QBs? When he seemed like a complete and total beast? I do too, but barely. These days it seems like it was a long time ago when everyone had Nuk pegged as a top five WR heading into 2016. When literally every major fantasy football site saw him as a can’t miss receiver.1

So many fantasy players drafted Hopkins early last year hoping that he’d build on his fantastic 2014 and 2015 seasons only to be left completely despondent. After his slow start, a lot of players tried to buy low in a trade, thinking he had to get better given what he’d done in the past.2 You can almost imagine a budding fantasy football analyst thinking exactly that and then trading a top-15 RB for Hopkins, dreams of “upside” swimming in his head.

Boy did I get burned, because he didn’t get better. The people who thought he would3were wrong. Not just kind of wrong. Like, disturbingly, maddeningly, outrageously wrong. So what the hell happened?

Houston quarterbacks. That’s what happened.

Have a look at Nuk’s yardage output compared to that of Houston’s cavalcade of mediocre quarterbacks.

Even more eye opening, have a look at his touchdown numbers compared to those of Houston’s quarterbacks:

In 2014 and 2015, about 16% of Hopkins’ total points4 derived from TDs. That number falls to about 11% in both his rookie year (2013) and the nightmare that was 2016. Clearly Hopkins’ production is in lockstep with QB production in terms of yardage and TDs. Which makes sense. Dude can’t throw himself the ball.

So, after an off-season of quarterback turnover, what can we expect for 2017?

Our Verdict: Alive

Admitting that Hopkins’ fantasy value will be dependent on what transpires at the quarterback position, he should be a productive fantasy asset in 2017. Regardless of who ends up at the helm of the Texans this year, it’s inconceivable that they’d be any worse than the disaster that was Brock Osweiler. As such, I expect Hopkins to get back into form and be a borderline top 10 receiver this year. He’s alive in my book.

  1. It’s almost like the experts get things wrong constantly…
  2. He had to, right?
  3. Don’t look at me like that.
  4. In PPR leagues.

Mike Bergsman is a contributor and the lead data analyst at The Read Option.

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