Fantasy football reaction to DeAndre Hopkins joining Titans

Just what can gamers expect from Nuk in the Music City?

While the deal isn’t official yet, free-agent wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will join the Tennessee Titans after being released by the Arizona Cardinals earlier in the year. The veteran returns to the AFC South and once again has quarterback concerns.

Competition for touches isn’t going to be a major concern, fortunately, but we have to question what will happen if Ryan Tannehill is injured or eventually benched. Rookie Will Levis appears to have the inside track for the QB2 gig and would be a downgrade from Tannehill, but a move to Malik Willis would be far more damaging.

The offense will remain run-oriented in focus. Hopkins, a possession receiver, should quickly emerge as the-go target for Tannehill, but with volume carrying his fantasy football value, it’s fair to be less optimistic about Nuk returning to the glory days. Treylon Burks should get a small bump as he’s now likely to face single coverage more often, and that actually seems to be better for the entire offense. Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo may take the biggest hit as he will fight Hopkins for the checkdown work, whereas Tannehill becomes a viable QB2 option.

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Hopkins has missed time the last two years due to injuries but also a performance-enhancing drug suspension. Even still, he remains by far the most accomplished receiver in this offense and is only 31, which isn’t as punitive being a crafty route runner with stellar hands. Despite missing action in 2022 and having quarterback issues, Hopkins was on pace for 120 catches for 1,344 yards and 5.67 touchdowns. Only six receivers did better in PPR scoring last year, so don’t be so quick to put a fork in him … that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be realistic.

Working in Hopkins’ favor, Tennessee has a new offensive coordinator, Tim Kelly, who cut his teeth in Houston. Both spent 2019 together with the Texans when Kelly directed the offense, resulting in a 104-1,165-7 line for Hopkins on a hearty 150 looks in 15 games.

Fantasy football outlook

Even if Kelly opens up the playbook more, Derrick Henry will get his to an extreme degree by modern NFL standards. Can we confidently expect the 105 or so targets A.J. Brown drew from a similar system with Tannehill prior to being traded to Philly? That’s not out of the question by any means. If Tannehill is clicking, he’s a capable passer who won’t hold back this future Hall of Famer as much as the system itself might.

Depending on the depth of the format and casualness of the group of gamers, his name value could be a significant factor in draft placement. Hopkins should net out as a No. 2 in reception-rewarding formats when the music stops. All bets are off if we see Levis or Willis, however, for more than a couple of games.

DeAndre Hopkins released by the Arizona Cardinals

What’s next for the star receiver?

After months of speculation about where Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will play in 2023, a huge contract creating a tepid trade market helped contribute to the star’s release Friday, May 26. He’s now free to sign with any team of his choosing.

Arizona is likely headed nowhere in 2023 with a first-time head coach and starting quarterback Kyler Murray recovering from knee reconstruction. The release of Hopkins is not designated as a June 1 cut, thus accelerating all $22.6 million of dead money to this year’s cap, which is the sixth-highest individual hit of all time. In other words, the Cards are phoning it in.

The move thrusts Marquise Brown into the WR1 role for the Cardinals. Wideouts Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch, Zach Pascal and rookie Michael Wilson all figure to vie for a larger role. With veteran tight end Zach Ertz (knee) also recovering from an ACL tear, look for second-year tight end Trey McBride to push for a prominent role, too.

Dortch flashed a few times in 2022, while Moore has yet to assert himself as he has fought injuries in each of his two pro seasons. Wilson is a possession outlet whose talent has been overshadowed by an inability to stay on the field. Pascal has bounced around the league of late, landing on this third team in as many years. Hollywood Brown is the only safe fantasy bet out of this lot, and he’s simply not a true No. 1, so his ascension on the depth chart may actually work against him.

As for Hopkins himself, he has missed time in the last two years with injuries and a suspension. Being a vested veteran, signing anywhere is on the table, but one has to presume he will want to play for a contender after knowing only floundering franchises in his NFL career. Turning 31 in June, he’s out of his prime, though his natural hands and precise footwork will keep him in the argument of being a low-tier No. 1 for most teams.

Hopkins said on the “I AM ATHLETE” podcast,

“What I want is stable management upstairs,” Hopkins said. “I think that’s something I haven’t really had the past couple years of my career coming from Houston and then to Arizona. I’ve been through three or four GMs in my career, so a stable management. A QB who loves the game, a QB who brings everybody on board with him and pushes not just himself but everybody around him. … And a great defense. A great defense wins championships.”

Look for him to land with any of Buffalo, Kansas City, Minnesota, Cleveland, and the New York Giants. Less likely spots include New England, Tennessee, Atlanta, and Carolina as wild-card options in the event one of the contenders isn’t interested. Finally, don’t write off Detroit, Green Bay, and the Los Angeles Rams.

Pairing with Deshaun Watson as a fellow former Clemson standout is intriguing. If we’re buying into the desire for organizational stability, scratch off Cleveland. The best landing spot for fantasy purposes has to be KC or New York. He’d make fine sidekick in LA, Minnesota or with Buffalo.

Hopkins’ monster contract was a hindrance in his trade market, so now it’s all about how much less he’s willing to take to play for a real chance at a Lombardi Trophy.

While we don’t know where he’ll play, expect a floor of No. 3 PPR and a ceiling in the midrange No. 2 zip code.

5 players to avoid in your fantasy football draft

Here’s who you should avoid in your fantasy football draft.

Preseason has wrapped up, and the 2022 NFL season is right around the corner, which means fantasy football draft season is in full swing.

Here’s a quick look at five players to avoid during your fantasy draft this year.

Fantasy football outlook: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals

We know Hopkins will be suspended six games, but what does that mean for his fantasy value?

Typically when an otherwise highly ranked player falls in fantasy football drafts, it happens for one of two reasons – he’s coming back from injury or starting the year on a suspension. In the case of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, it’s both.

In his first eight seasons, Hopkins only missed one game due to injury. Last season, he missed time with a hamstring strain and tore an MCL in Week 14 to end his season. Even so, in 10 games, he caught 42 passes for 572 yards and eight touchdowns. Those aren’t big numbers by Hopkins standards, but for just about anyone else, would be very good numbers despite injury.

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Hopkins, it can be argued, has already punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame. In his last six full seasons, he has caught more than 95 passes five times and has 1,165 or more receiving yards in six of the last seven seasons. Consistently big production has been his career calling card, which makes the fantasy decision on him so painful.

In the offseason, Hopkins was suspended for the first six games of the season for violating the NFL’s PED policy. While it gives his surgically repaired MCL additional (and perhaps even unnecessary) time to heal, the bottom line is that he is guaranteed to miss nearly half of the fantasy football regular season – six games under the PED suspension and another when the Cardinals have a bye week in Week 13.

The Cardinals have one of the most potent offenses in the league and added Marquise Brown, who topped 1,000 receiving yards last year for the Baltimore Ravens, so the team should be able to hold up offensively until Hopkins returns. The Cardinals proved what they could do last season, starting 7-0 and building momentum before losing seven of their last 11 games, including four of the final five games without Hopkins. His importance to the success of the team is clear, and he will be coming in with fresh legs following his suspension to join a team two months into the grind of a 17-game season.

Fantasy football takeaway

There are two basic schools of thought when it comes to Hopkins. The first is to rank or value him so low that you will never get him. The second is considering him as a high WR3 and deal with his absence like fantasy owners have to do all the time when a player is injured – make do with what you have and ride out the storm early while your entire roster is healthy and bye’s largely aren’t a factor.

The final decision on where (or if) to invest in Hopkins is predicated in making an investment in the early middle rounds to add depth to your receiver corps. Hopkins has WR1 value when healthy and on the field, so when you get to the WR3 tier, the longer he remains, the bigger value he brings.

Don’t draft Hopkins to be a bookend wide receiver, but if you have two locked and loaded don’t be afraid to roll the dice on a redemption story that could stack your lineup in the second half of the season, especially in PPR formats.

Fantasy football PPR live draft review

A second PPR draft in mid-May showed a few different patterns emerge.

Much like with our May edition of the Mock Draft Series, out of respect for the hosts of this draft, no reference will be made to its identity so the content remains fresh on their end, nor will the entire draft results be published here.

The blurbs about my team below were provided to the draft host and will appear in a magazine as part of a larger evaluation of the draft. Before getting into my individual picks (we didn’t write up our final four), here are a few observations from an 18-round, 12-team, PPR draft.

  • This group was hyper-aggressive with selecting wide receivers early in the first round, especially atop the draft. Four of the first seven selections were wideouts, including Cooper Kupp going No. 3 overall. Detroit running back D’Andre Swift going 12th was the only thing close to a surprise in the opening round. Three tight ends and six receivers went in the second round. The rest were running backs.
  • The first QB came off the board was Josh Allen was taken with the fifth selection of Round 3, which is the earliest any quarterback has gone in the first three drafts of this series. Justin Herbert went with the final pick in Round 6, followed two spots later by Patrick Mahomes. Only Lamar Jackson (Pick 8:09) would go over the next 24 choices.
  • In the first 100 picks, 5 QBs, 42 RBs, 44 WRs and 9 TEs were taken. During the PPR draft a week prior, we watched 6 QBs, 39 RBs, 45 WRs and 10 tight ends.

Here’s a snapshot of the first 10 rounds broken down by number of positional picks:

1st: 8 RBs, 4 WRs
2nd: 3 RBs, 6 WRs, 3 TEs
3rd: 1 QB, 5 RBs, 4 WRs, 2 TEs
4th: 6 RBs, 6 WRs
5th: 3 RBs, 8 WRs, 1 TE
6th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 1 TE
7th: 1 QB, 5 RBs, 6 WRs
8th: 1 QB, 6 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 TE
9th: 5 QBs, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 3 TEs
10th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 6 WRs, 1 TE

My team

We were asked to write 35 words per pick to give a little insight as to our draft thoughts:

1:02) RB Austin Ekeler, Las Angeles Chargers: It came down to Derrick Henry being dominant one more time, Cooper Kupp as the safest pick here, or Ekeler remaining healthy. I was most concerned about not having a strong enough RB1 if I chose the wideout.

2:11) WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Knowing the drafter at the turn had an elite RB and presuming WR-WR was in play, I went with Evans before another back. It played out as expected. Evans and Keenan Allen were the best remaining WR1s.

3:02) RB Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns: I hoped Chubb would survive the turn, and my Round 2 decision paid off. Injuries and time-sharing concerns are real, but Chubb is a TD machine and gives me a legit RB1 as my second back.

4:11) WR Terry McLaurin, Washington Commanders: The debate was McLaurin and Courtland Sutton, who went with the very next pick. McLaurin has proven to be mostly QB-proof and makes for a quality WR2, even with Carson Wentz under center.

5:02) RB Damien Harris, New England Patriots: Three drafts, three Harris selections … it’s not that I’m necessarily a huge fan, but he’s a tremendous RB3. Thanks to Harris’ scoring prowess, none of the remaining backs were definitively better options at this stage.

6:11) WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals: A strong draft start afforded this gamble. Hopkins will miss six games, sure, but he’s a borderline WR1 lock in PPR upon his return. It’s not too often you can plug that kind of talent into your WR3 slot.

7:02) QB Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs: Securing my third-ranked passer in Round 7 ahead of the long end of my wait, Mahomes was tough to let pass. While the WR talent regressed, he makes players around him better and will be fine.

8:11) WR Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers: Lazard may emerge as the top fantasy receiver in Green Bay after the Davante Adams trade. It’s worth a late-round wager to find out. At a minimum, he’s adequate depth for me while Hopkins is out.

9:02) TE Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans: I’m much higher on Hooper’s rebound than most, and since I tend to wait on TEs, this one was a no-brainer. Tennessee’s WR situation is shaky, at best, and Hooper is an ideal fit for the system.

10:11) WR Kenny Golladay, New York Giants: Can the talented Golladay stay on the field? His quarterback situation could hold him back, but I’m willing to bank on Brian Daboll getting the most out of Daniel Jones. The rest is up to Golladay.

11:02) RB Marlon Mack, Houston Texans: I should’ve taken Tyler Allgeier over Golladay. The rookie went at the turn, forcing a pivot to Mack. A whole lotta “meh,” but he has a chance, which is all one can ask for this late.

12:11) TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears: Kmet is one of my favorites for a breakout season, and the third-year tight end covers my backside if the Hooper gamble doesn’t pan out. There’s legit TE1 potential in Chicago’s new offense.

13:02) RB Jamaal Williams, Detroit Lions: Since the Mack pick could go either way, a safe, reliable veteran was the target, and Williams fits the bill. Plus, D’Andre Swift has proven to be less than a model of health thus far.

14:11) WR Jamison Crowder, Buffalo Bills: In three years with Buffalo, Cole Beasley was a PPR powerhouse out of the slot, and Crowder should have little trouble assuming the role in this pass-heavy system. He provides excellent value-to-upside ratio.

Rounding out the draft: Arizona Cardinals RB Keaontay Ingram (Round 15), PK Daniel Carlson (Round 16), QB Jameis Winston (Round 17) and Miami Dolphins defense/special teams (Round 18).

Fantasy football team previews: NFC West

QB changes, suspension woes, and a chance to repeat dominate the NFC West’s outlook.

The 2022 fantasy football draft season is starting to heat up now that we’ve gone through the height of free agency and all of the chosen rookies have been assigned to their professional home cities.

The landscape has changed a great deal for many franchises after a whirlwind offseason, and our divisional preview series will help you stay on top of all of the changes to date.

AFC divisional previews

East | North | South | West

NFC divisional previews

East | North | South | West

Arizona Cardinals lose DeAndre Hopkins to six-game suspension

A fake football reaction to fantasy owners losing Hopkins for six games.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first six games of the 2022 NFL season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

In yet another setback for the league’s highest-paid receiver, the specific games Hopkins will miss are not yet known, but we’ll have clarity after the schedule release on May 12.

Last year, Hopkins suffered knee and hamstring injuries that cost him seven of the last nine games of the season. He underwent surgery to repair a torn medial collateral ligament and was on track to be fully recovered ahead of offseason activities. He turns 30 in June.

During Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, Hopkins gained a new running mate in former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown after the Cards traded for the 2019 draft’s 25th pick. Brown was acquired to offset the loss of Christian Kirk in free agency, and he’ll now be tasked with assuming the top receiver duties in Nuk’s absence. The collegiate connection between Hollywood and his “old-new” quarterback, Kyler Murray, should make for a smooth transition.

Other receivers asked to do more will be Rondale Moore, a second-year player who has the explosiveness in the open field to take a short pass the distance just about any time he touches the ball. Veteran A.J. Green re-signed to play his age-34 season in the desert after a so-so campaign a year ago with Arizona. He finished 2021 with a 54-848-3 line in 16 appearances as the WR42 in PPR scoring. Speedy wide receiver Andy Isabella also remains on the roster, although he has been the subject of trade chatter of late.

In addition to those moves, Arizona re-signed tight end Zach Ertz to a three-year extension, and tight end Trey McBride — widely viewed as the top rookie of this year’s class — was chosen in Round 2.

Finally, don’t discredit the above-average receiving skills of running back James Conner. Hopkins’ typically domineering target share creates a few more available looks to go around, including a trickle-down effect for safety values, such as the former Pittsburgh Steeler.

Fantasy football takeaway

The move makes Hopkins a low-end No. 2 receiver target in reception-rewarding formats. He’ll definitely miss the six contests but also comes with elevated injury concerns after being tough as nails during his career. In early drafts, his average position was WR10 with an ADP of Pick 3:04. That should tumble into Round 6 or so with the suspension news. Every league will be slightly different, of course, with Hopkins going a little sooner and later. Having a feel for your league’s tendencies can help finely tune knowing when to strike optimal value. As always, he his a much more reliable contributor in PPR.

Brown’s value will be at its peak in 2022 during the six-game window the Cardinals are without Hopkins. Given the aforementioned familiarity and existing chemistry with Murray, Hollywood can play like a low-end WR1 during the suspension, given the right matchups, but he’s a much safer No. 2 lineup consideration. It’s reasonable to expect his big-play nature will continue to make him a more valuable start in non-PPR scoring.

Moore presents the most upside here. He can thrive with limited volume and also has the skill set to see the occasional gadget play come his direction. As a 2021 rookie, his career started off on a promising foot as Moore finished with at least 10 PPR points in three of the first five contests before fading into oblivion the rest of the way. Thanks to a full season under his belt, the electric Purdue product has serious boom potential in the early going. He’s getting drafted as a WR4/No. 5 in recent drafts, which is bound to move closer toward being a third in the near future. That said, his season-long value will take a substantial hit with Brown’s acquisition and the eventual return of Hopkins.

Green isn’t more than a late-round roster-filler at this point in his career, and even this news doesn’t give the veteran much of a boost in fantasy appeal. He’ll have flex utility in both prominent scoring systems while Hopkins is away, and that value craters with D-Hop’s return to the lineup.

While McBride may find a few more targets heading his way early in the season, rookie tight ends rarely contribute statistically in a fantasy-relevant manner. He is best reserved exclusively for daily fantasy cash games and showdown contests. Ertz, on the other hand, will be a weekly lineup fixture and figures to pace this passing game in volume during Hopkins’ stead.

As for Murray, he loses a bit of luster for the first third of the season. There’s still midrange starter’s worth to be found in the fourth-year quarterback, mainly thanks to his legs and top trio of remaining pass-catching outlets. Bump him down a notch or two in the overall rankings, though.