Card Sharks: The Dynasty Fallout of the DeAndre Hopkins trade to Arizona

Ryan McDowell

Every year, the NFL free agency period brings that “WHAT?!?!” moment. We didn’t have to wait long this season as the Texans and Cardinals pulled off a monster trade just an hour into the legal tampering period as Houston sent superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to Arizona in exchange for scrapheap running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder. If you’re thinking that’s not enough for potentially the best receiver in the game, you’re not alone.

Let’s take a closer look at the dynasty values of Nuk, DJ and all other players involved on both teams.

Arizona Cardinals

DeAndre Hopkins

I don’t need to sell you on Hopkins as a dynasty asset. His resume speaks for itself. The DLF Yearly Data App reminds us Hopkins has finished as a top-five fantasy receiver in four of the past five seasons.


That type of production leads to some serious dynasty value and Hopkins has been drafted as a first-round startup pick for five straight years and narrowly missed making that six straight during his breakout 2015 season. Here’s how he’s been valued, using the DLF ADP over Time App.


As for Hopkins moving forward, there is no reason to expect a letdown. He’ll now be a part of one of the league’s most exciting offenses, quarterbacked by Kyler Murray. Year one of this up-tempo Arizona offensive experiment led by Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury wasn’t as successful as some hoped, but that can be traced to struggled of the running game and little protection for Murray. The Cardinals were among the fastest offenses in the league, per Football Outsiders.

When a player leaves a successful situation, fantasy players almost always view that as a downgrade, but I don’t see that being the case this time. If anything, I expect Hopkins to increase in value, both in startup ADP and trade value. In our latest March ADP, Hopkins came in as the WR3, narrowly behind Green Bay’s Davante Adams.


By the way, if you’re the skeptical type, check out this article in which Addison Hayes studied the impact of a wide receiver changing teams.

Kyler Murray

Remember when the Browns acquired Odell Beckham a little over a year ago and dynasty players immediately valued Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield as a top-three dynasty option based on the upgrade? There are many parallels with this trade as Murray obviously gets a value bump. The problem, and one of the key differences between Mayfield and Murray, is that the Cardinals signal caller was already being valued as a top-four dynasty quarterback. He doesn’t have as far to climb as Mayfield, who was sitting outside the top-ten at the time of the Beckham trade. It is reasonable to move Murray up one spot in rankings and ADP, ironically flipping positions with Houston’s Deshaun Watson, but more on him later.

Along with Murray, the Cardinals also brought in a trio of rookie wideouts last season and despite each of them disappointing and Murray taking 48 sacks (third-most in the league), the rookie finished as the QB7. With Hopkins, his upside is immeasurable.

Kenyan Drake

Obviously, Hopkins is the headliner of this deal, but earlier in the day, the Cardinals assigned running back Kenyan Drake with their transition tag – that still allows him to negotiate with other teams but puts the Cardinals in the driver’s seat to keep him. Arizona traded for Drake mid-season last year and he immediately became the team’s starter. Following the trade, Drake was the RB4 in fantasy scoring, behind only Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s not bad company.

Using the DLF Player Splits App, we see just how stark the difference was once Drake was moved to Arizona, noted as “in-split” below.


Christian Kirk

Since the Cardinals spent a day-two pick on Christian Kirk, he’s been valued as a high-upside dynasty asset with his monthly ADP climbing into the fourth-round late in the 2019 regular season.


Hopkins has been a target machine, finishing among the top-seven most-targeted receivers for five consecutive seasons, including leading the league in 2017. This will lock Kirk in as a WR2 for the majority of his career. That is not meant to be a knock, but more of a reality check for those who viewed Kirk as an eventual lead receiver. While Hopkins, Murray and Drake will be quite pricey, now could be a good time to attempt a buy-low on Kirk in dynasty leagues. Here are the most recent transactions across leagues using our Dynasty Trade Finder.


Andy Isabella
KeeSean Johnson
Hakeem Butler

Last off-season, every dynasty player seemed to have a favorite among these three young wideouts, but each saw a serious drop in value and failed to make an impact on the field. All these players are still worthy of roster spots in most dynasty formats, but they are nothing more than depth pieces right now.

Larry Fitzgerald

It was somewhat of a surprise to see the veteran Fitzgerald return for yet another season, and he’s clearly along for the ride at this point. Fitzgerald produced just one game as a top-12 wideout this past season. All due respect, but he is little more than a roster clogger at this point.

Houston Texans

David Johnson

2020 has been a rough year for most of us, but for David Johnson, the troubles began late in 2019. Through six weeks, Johnson was the RB6 in fantasy scoring and then things fell apart as he dealt with multiple injuries and the Cardinals acquired Drake. Even when Johnson was healthy, he played sparingly. After Week Six, he averaged just over three fantasy points per game. His value followed that same pattern based on his monthly dynasty ADP. His current ADP of 102 is his lowest since the summer before his rookie season.


Houston is one of the better landing spots for Johnson, as he will assume the lead role there, paired with Duke Johnson. If healthy, the former Cardinal can regain his status as a fantasy starter and his dynasty value should immediately begin to increase.

Deshaun Watson

As good as this trade is for Murray, it could be that bad for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who loses his top weapon. Watson has never played an NFL game without Hopkins, but that will obviously change when the 2020 season begins. As previously mentioned, Watson’s value will likely take a slide, but I am excited about the buy-low opportunity this surprising move presents for Watson. We have no evidence how Watson will perform without his go-to star, but the Texans will obviously make a move to add another receiver, right? Right!?!

Will Fuller

The obvious winner from this deal for the Texans is the explosive wideout Will Fuller. Entering 2019, Fuller had produced at an elite level and the only real question was his health. Fuller has missed 22 games through his four-year career, obviously limiting his year-end fantasy rank each season. While he did set a new career-high in 2019 with 670 yards, nearly one-third of that came in one game against the Falcons in Week Five. Given Fuller’s extensive injury history and the likelihood of Houston adding another strong receiver at some point, Fuller is a player to sell given this news.

Kenny Stills
Keke Coutee

Veteran Kenny Stills and third year wideout Keke Coutee are next on the Houston depth chart. Stills had actually been rumored as a potential cap casualty, though that is unlikely to happen now. Both players are dirt cheap and worth adding if they are on the waiver wire. Beyond that option, I am not aggressively pursuing these players as Houston will be making other moves throughout the off-season.

This was one unimaginable trade in reality and one that impacts dynasty greatly.  This is just one domino to fall, stay with us for all the news as it comes in.

ryan mcdowell