Deciding who to take with your first-round pick causes every owner heartburn. What should you do if you aren’t happy with the running backs when you’re on the clock and Antonio Brown is already off the board? Picking the best wide receiver will be critical, especially when just a few points can mean the difference between a championship and a disappointing runner-up spot. Let’s breakdown which juicy receiver you should sink your teeth into – Odell Beckham, Jr. or DeAndre Hopkins.
This comparison isn’t as clear cut as picking a winner using last season’s stats. With OBJ’s season-ending ankle fracture leaving us with only four games to look back on, we’ll have to use the most recent complete season stats of 2016 OBJ versus 2017 Hopkins. And thanks to Deshaun Watson’s ACL tear, we only have seven games with the Houston duo to try to normalize the 2017 data.
Odell Beckham, Jr. owners should be elated that not only is he is healthy in 2018, but because he’s said he is “back in love with what I’ve always loved.” According to NFL.com, in 2016 OBJ was the third best receiver in total yards (1,367) on 101 receptions. He averaged 13.5 yards per reception, 85.4 yards per game and finished fifth in scoring (10 TDs). And per Pro Football Focus, he was able to gain 286 yards on 8 completed passes of 20 or more yards (deep passes). We also need to consider Eli Manning’s role in OBJ’s success. During the same season, Manning averaged 37.4 attempts per game with a completion percentage of 63.0% and 26 touchdowns. 2018 is also a rebuilding year for the Giants’ offensive line and their worst days should be behind them. Time will tell how long will it take for this group to gel, but once they do, Manning should gain better pass protection and more time in the pocket.
DeAndre Hopkins had a monster 2017 – he led the league in scoring (13 TDs) and fourth in receiving yards (1,378 yards) on 96 receptions. NFL.com also reports he averaged 14.4 yards per reception and 91.9 yards per game. And Pro Football Focus reports he gained 468 yards on 16 completed deep passes. Hopkins beats OBJ in most stat categories, but the real x-factor for Hopkins’ game is Deshaun Watson. Although we only have a small body of work to reference, Watson’s stats tell an extraordinary story – even with possible regression this year. Watson did produce a lower volume of attempts per game (29.1), had a similar completion rate as Manning (61.8%), but was more efficient at 8.3 yards per attempt. And remarkably, he scored 19 touchdowns in just seven games!
You will not be disappointed if either of receiver ends up on your roster. But in fantasy football where touchdowns and big plays equal more points, DeAndre Hopkins wins this battle. Last season Hopkins led the NFL in scoring, had 182 more yards on deep passes than Beckham, Jr. did in 2016, and Deshaun Watson brings more yards per attempt than Manning in his last full season with OBJ. And the good news is whoever you choose, you can feel confident in your decision. Running backs are going off the board early this year and there is a ton of value at wide receiver in both the early and later rounds.