Summer and the off-season are upon us. As dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rankings Risers and Fallers series, we break down some of the fantasy-relevant dynasty players, including rookies, and look at their values while providing actionable advice on what to do with them.
DeAndre Hopkins, WR ARI (June 2021 Rank=21.14, Current Rank=64.14)
Hopkins’ value had already been on the decline but when his suspension was announced in early May, it downright tanked. The veteran wideout was a top-25 pick in startup drafts as recently as July of 2021.
Sure, the six games he will miss in 2022 will hurt, but we have to remember, this is dynasty. We think long-term here. The former Texans star has plummeted 43 spots in rankings over the past 12 calendar months.
There are also other factors contributing to his decline in value but should we truly be selecting players like Amon-Ra St. Brown or Chase Claypool ahead of him in startups? Both of those receivers are much younger but do they bring the upside that we get with rostering Hopkins?
Hopkins is 30 years old. If the 2021 version of Cooper Kupp has taught us anything, it is that we should not necessarily be giving up on wideouts as they advance in age. Hopkins is just one year older than the triple crown winner from last season. This is not to say the Arizona Cardinals wideout can duplicate what Kupp did last season, it is just to say that he is not quite dead yet.
We mentioned there were other factors impacting the decline in rankings and ADP for Hopkins. One of the major reasons is the arrival of Marquise Brown in the desert. The Cardinals made a draft-day trade for the speedster, sending their first-round pick (23rd overall) to the Ravens in return for Brown and their third-round pick (100th overall). The trade reunites college teammates and friends Kyler Murray and Brown, leaving many to wonder where Hopkins fits in after his return from suspension. The veteran should be just fine.
Despite only playing in ten games last season, he scored eight touchdowns and managed to average 14.72 PPR points per game – more than the players going ahead of him mentioned above. That total was his lowest per game since 2016 and nagging injuries likely played a big part in that decline in production. The time off to start 2022 could be beneficial to extending his career.
As far as the arrival of Brown, Arizona has already said that they plan to primarily use him in the slot to fill the void vacated by Christian Kirk but he will be employed all over the field. This doesn’t impact the X position that Hopkins plays. A combination of AJ Green and Antoine Wesley will fill that role while he misses time.
Hopkins has been an irreplaceable asset in terms of fantasy and real-life football. His talent cannot be denied. The only question is whether or not it can be sustained at age 30. The 6’1”, 212-pounder was a top-five wideout for four consecutive years heading into 2021.
Hopkins did not forget how to play football. There will certainly be a decline in production in 2022 due to his lack of games played and the arrival of Brown, but it should not be so much of an impact that we are dropping him down into the WR4 range. We think he still has a couple of WR2 (13th to 24th place) finishes left in him. You can be certain that opportunities won’t be the issue.
The Arizona Cardinals were 15th in the NFL in pass attempts last year with 591. Even more impressive, and better for Hopkins, is the fact that they were fourth in terms of yards per attempt with 7.8. This trailed only the Bengals, 49ers, and Rams. The Seahawks were fifth. An interesting side note is that four of the five teams in the NFC West topped that category. Kliff Kingsbury is no stranger to churning out the offensive plays either.
We see here that the team was eighth in the league in terms of offensive plays per game with 65.6 and is right on pace with their three-year average of 66.0. That shouldn’t change in 2022, leaving Hopkins with ample opportunities.
Still the Man
We mentioned earlier that Hopkins only played in ten games in 2021. Despite that fact, he led the team in red-zone targets with 15. Zach Ertz arrived in week eight and played in 11 games, finishing third on the team with 12.
There is some concern that Ertz took away the value of Hopkins in the money zone. This appeared to be the case in 2021. The duo played in just four games together but there was a noticeable difference in points for the wideout as evidenced by the splits table below.
While there was no real dip in targets or target share percentages, there was a sizable drop in PPR points, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Was this just a simple case of nagging injuries slowing Hopkins down or is it a sign of things to come in 2022? Only time will tell.
AJ Green or Antoine Wesley are not threats when the suspension is over. Green may not even be on the team as he can be cut post-June 1st for very little dead cap room and is owed a $500,000 per game roster bonus. Make no mistake, Hopkins is still the alpha in Arizona.
Conclusion/Course of Action
I am buying as many shares as I can at the current price. Hopkins’ ADP continues to decline as well as people are talking themselves out of a four-time top-five wideout. There is a chance he falls out of the top 100 overall. I am buying even more then.
The trade market seems to be a bit more difficult to navigate for value. There appear to be some solid trades being made to acquire him.
Either way, I am doing what I can to make sure the soon-to-be tenth-year wideout is on my rosters come September.
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Rankings Riser: Mark Andrews, TE BAL - August 5, 2022
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Decision: Would You Rather Trey McBride or David Njoku? - August 4, 2022
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings Faller: Khalil Shakir, WR BUF - August 3, 2022