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.
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.