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Dynasty Decision: DeAndre Hopkins

Can DeAndre Hopkins be considered a ‘buy-low’ target? Will he recover from his dynasty decline? We examine his situation.

DeAndre Hopkins

One of my favorite things about dynasty is the difference in opinion that each individual has regarding what to do with high-priced players as they begin to reach that final peak value point.

We all know the pain of holding onto that stud player too long as their production evaporates and your once highly-priced asset is essentially worthless. There are also plenty of cases of players being sold expecting that decline only to go on defying the odds.

I wanted to dive back into the Dynasty Decision series but instead look at a few players already being placed on the scrapheap and ask the question: are they being discarded correctly, or do they have some value left? What should we be doing?

Up next…

DeAndre Hopkins, WR ARI

Hopkins has been a stud since he stepped onto an NFL field. He has been nothing but a colossal fantasy producer. After a season in which he only appeared in ten games, is Hopkins done? Or is he a bargain-basement buy who could help a contender and be the final piece of a championship roster?

PREVIOUS PERFORMANCE

As a first-round pick out of Clemson, Hopkins has proven himself an elite talent for fantasy. Outside of his rookie year, he has averaged greater than 12 points per game every season. So far through his nine-year career, he has five top 12 seasons, one top 24 season (his rookie year), and a down 2016 season where he was catching passes from Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.

The decision to make about Hopkins is around the 2021 season. It was a down year – not only because he played a career-low ten games but because he only averaged 14.72 points per game, a significant drop from the 19.9 points per game he averaged the four-season prior.

SITUATION AND USAGE

In his debut season with Arizona after the much-discussed trade from Houston, he immediately became the clear centerpiece of the offense, seeing 160 targets. 2021 was a somewhat different story – largely down to his injury-reduced season. However, when he did play, Hopkins averaged only 6.4 targets per contest. Looking ahead into 2022, he still has a clear opportunity to be a target monster and produce tremendous results for fantasy.

However, one big thing has changed—the arrival of Marquise Brown. The Cardinals traded their 2021 first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Brown. When Hopkins returns to the field, some are expecting Brown to eat into Hopkins’s target share. I don’t think that will be the case. I still expect Hopkins as the true X receiver to receive north of a 20% target share while Brown becomes Christian Kirk ‘plus’. Hopkins is likely entering the twilight of his career while Brown is entering his prime, but I still believe in a balanced offense, Hopkins will out-target Brown.

HEALTH/SUSPENSION/CONTRACT

Health

After suffering his first significant injury in 2021, it could be argued that, given his age, this is a sign of things to come. However, an MCL sprain is a relatively stand-alone injury. The chances are that now he’s had a whole season to rehab and will be okay. Nothing other than his advancing age suggests we will see Hopkins miss significant time.

Suspension

Significantly, Hopkins will miss the first six games of the 2022 season due to violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drugs policy. It can’t be understated how big of a deal this is. Off the back of this suspension, the Cardinals traded for Brown. It could be argued they may have done that to replace Kirk, but it is another target-heavy player with whom Hopkins is competing. The suspension will hit his 2022 production as he can only play in a maximum of 11 games. It will also mean he is away from the team practices for six weeks, meaning it could be a slow start when he does come back to the field for the seventh game of the season.

Contract

The Hopkins contract situation is one of the most fascinating to watch over the next 12 months. He has a cap hit of $33.75m if he is on the roster in 2023. However, it would cost the Cardinals $22.6m even if they cut him. That $11.15m saving could be very useful for a Cardinals team with some big contracts on the horizon, including a monster contract for Kyler Murray. However, will they pay Hopkins $22.6m not to play for them in 2023? Realistically I believe unless Hopkins has a horror season, he will be on the Cardinals roster in 2023 and then be released (or traded) before the 2024 season.

ADP AND TRADE VALUE

Hopkins’s value has declined significantly in the last 12 months. He is currently the dynasty WR41 and 79th overall player in May ADP. That is down from the WR10 in May 2021 ADP. The Trade Analyzer has him now worth a late 2023 first, and recent trades from the Trade Finder include:

The drop in value is significant, and you would expect some decline given his age, but the suspension primarily led to the massive reduction. The price in the trade analyzer feels relatively high compared to the recent trades. I would expect at WR41 Hopkins to be commanding an early second rather than a first-rounder.

CONCLUSION

Hopkins is a fascinating case study. His value has plummeted, and he usually would be an exciting buy candidate for a contender given his age profile and potential for immediate production. However, the looming suspension puts a big issue right in the middle.

Given his value, I think he could be a fantastic under-the-radar buy candidate. However, you need to understand the risks. If you’re a well-built contending roster, you should be able to make do without Hopkins for the first six or seven games. You are then adding a potential top-15 receiver at a discounted price for the stretch run of the fantasy season. Worst-case scenario, if you buy him now but are not in a contending position mid-season, you will be able to sell him for more in early October when he returns to the field than you’ve paid.

The price is key to this, though. In no scenario would I be happy paying 2023 first for him. If I can buy him for a 2023 second or maybe a second and third, I’d be comfortable taking that risk. If you own Hopkins in any scenario, you can’t be selling him right now. His price will only increase as his return to the field draws nearer. Be patient, wait it out, and sell him when he is back on the field as an elite wide receiver rather than just a theoretical player.

If you’re buying Hopkins, you need to do so with the understanding that you are not going to get any resale value, and he is likely a two-year asset. As I mentioned, I expect him to not be on the Cardinals in 2024, and at that point, a 32-year-old free agent isn’t a desirable dynasty asset.

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Dynasty Decision: DeAndre Hopkins
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Jacob Smith
5 months ago

Sold Hopkins in 2020 for a 2021 2nd, two 2022 1sts and Hunter Renfrow (I was in rebuild). That’s one league, in my other league (contender) I still have him but he’s no longer a starter.

Mark Boutot
5 months ago

Reasons why you trade a 1st round pick for a third-year veteran WR:

Kelvin Benjamin
Sammy Watkins
Philip Dorsett
Breshad Perriman
Nelson Agholor
Kevin White
Laquon Treadwell
Josh Doctson
Corey Coleman
John Ross
Calvin Ridley

All of the above players are WR’s who were drafted in the 1st round between 2014 and 2018. Just randomly picked those years, not trying to cherry-pick anything. During that time, a total of 20 WR’s were drafted in the 1st round. Now, anywhere from 4 to 9 nine years later would you be happy with any of these guys on your rosters? That is a less-than-50% hit rate for 1st round WR’s, you know, those guys that during their respective drafts were all “the missing pieces” and would, in short time, show why they are on their way to Canton. WHY NOT trade a mid-1st for an established, productive WR who fits in well with his new team, not only from a football perspective but also a personal perspective? WHAT IS this fascination we all have with 1st WR’s? 🙂 🙂

And yes, for cap reasons alone in my opinion, you keep Hopkins through 2023 but in a much-diminished role.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mark Boutot
Andy Cook
Reply to  Mark Boutot
5 months ago

Well you definitely cherry picked the players that didn’t pan out as perennial top 10 receivers. I see what you mean, but if a team is not competing then why not trade a few years of likely wide receiver to production and have a shot at Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, and others. If a wide receiver drafted in the first round was a 90% hit rate then no one would be trading a first for DeAndre Hopkins. I think selling a stud wide receiver when he hits age 29 is definitely the right move. There are not very many guys that can remain productive until age 32 or 33. However I would probably reference an article from this site several months ago, get a prospect that has a year under his belt plus a first round pick. So grab a Jerry Jeudy and first round pick for Hopkins. Or something to that effect. But timing has to be right.

Matthew M
5 months ago

Personally I just sold Nuk for a 2023 2nd (10 team SF league). My league has a strong tendency not to value “old guys”, so generally any WR who is 29 people don’t give out 1sts for. This 2nd should be a top 13 pick, so I’m pretty happy with that return.

mesh
5 months ago

Traded Hopkins before the suspension for a 22′ 2nd (turned into J.Dotson), a 24′ 1st, and the ability to swap picks in 25′ and 27′ if it benefits my team. I’m rebuilding

Rodolfo Jacinto
Reply to  mesh
5 months ago

No dynasty league should allow picks to be traded so far out into the future.

Derek Lipski
Reply to  Rodolfo Jacinto
5 months ago

Lol…why not?

mesh
Reply to  Rodolfo Jacinto
5 months ago

We couldn’t trade those picks but we could agree to swap them if it benefits my team. I’m hoping he has a top 3 pick and maybe I have the 8th or 9th pick that year and I get to swap with him. He keeps a 1st round pick, I get to move up. It’s a nice add-on when negotiating trades.

mesh
Reply to  Richard Cooling
5 months ago

Yeah, it was just a bonus, It’s only upside for me and he doesn’t lose anything if he has a great year. Just gotta hope he has a bad season in those years.

Gordon Thomas
5 months ago

Sold Hopkins plus my 2023 1st (a late pick, probably 9-12) for the 1.06 and took Olave. Fingers crossed I did the right thing. I usually hold veterans WAY too long.

Andy Cook
5 months ago

If he’s at 20%+ (IE low 20’s) then Hollywood is most certainly eating into his share. 25%-30% is where I imagine most WR1 finishes come from.

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