Texans WR Andre Johnson's offseason absence gives DeAndre Hopkins an advantage. The Sideline View's Lance Zierlein confirmed to Around The League that Fitzpatrick and rookie Tom Savage are already developing a strong rapport with the second-year wideout.
HC Bill O'Brien's offense should also provide a boost. Hopkins drew just two more targets than tight end Garrett Graham with Gary Kubiak calling the plays. Dialing up more slants, bubble screens and crossing routes will help. His leaping ability was also underutilized, as Kubiak has long been one of the NFL's most conservative coaches in the red zone.
Hopkins doesn't have the extraordinary physical gifts of Johnson, but the talent is there to post several seasons as a top 15 NFL wideout. Taking over the Titans game suggests No. 1 receiver potential should Johnson force his way out of Houston.
Even if Johnson returns by September, Hopkins should have little trouble flirting with 1,000 yards and a half-dozen touchdowns. After all, he was on pace for 80 catches and 1,080 yards after the first four games of his career.
Hopkins finished as the #50 WR in 2013, posting 52 catches for 802 yards and two touchdowns, a solid season for a rookie wideout playing along an established veteran like Andre Johnson. Provided he develops a strong rapport with Fitzpatrick, he should progress in O'Brien's offense.