It’s that time of year once again! Football Absurdity will bring you a breakdown of every notable fantasy football-relevant player throughout June, July, and August. We continue with the wide receivers. Today, we look at a long-time fantasy football stud who will eat a six-game suspension to start the season. What should we do with DeAndre Hopkins in our 2022 fantasy football leagues? Let’s take a look at his fantasy football player profile!
DeAndre Hopkins ADP and AAV:
Average Draft Position: WR32, 76 overall
Average Auction Value: $3.8
DeAndre Hopkins Statistics:
|Year||Std Pts||HPPR Pts||PPR Pts||Pts/G||HPPR Pts/G||PPR Pts/G||Pts/Tgt||HPPR Pts/Tgt||PPR Pts/Tgt|
|Year||Air Yards||aDOT||YAC||YAC/Tgt||YAC/Rec||AYMS||Tgt MS|
2022 DeAndre Hopkins Fantasy Football Overview:
Last year was a massive step down for DeAndre Hopkins. The perennial fantasy football superstar missed seven games and wasn’t quite what we had come to expect in our time with him. He averaged just 6.4 targets per game (down from 210 in 21 games in 2020 and 2019 combined). But, did that have an overall decrease in his production? Somewhat. He averaged three fewer PPR points per game last season, thanks to the drop from 7.2 receptions per game to 4.2 receptions per game, but his average depth of target increased to the highest with Arizona (12.5 yards downfield). He also notched eight touchdowns in just ten games, which was the highest since 2018, and was on pace to surpass his touchdowns in any given season.
It seems as though the Cardinals found a new role for Hopkins: downfield and in the end zone, taking the best advantage of his ball skills both inside and outside the 20-yard line. He had 15 red zone targets, which was less than the 18 he had in 2020, but again, he played just ten games. So, he averaged 1.5 red zone targets per game, which was apace for 25.5 such targets on the season, which would have put him between Keenan Allen and Chris Godwin, for the fifth-most last season. So, that speaks to a change in his usage for 2020.
But what about 2021? Let’s set aside what to do about his suspension (that we will handle in the draft strategy section). It would make a lot of sense to move Nuk closer to the line of scrimmage to take advantage of Marquise Brown’s deep speed, taking over from Christian Kirk… except Christian Kirk had a deeper average depth of target compared to Hollywood Brown last year. That speaks volumes about what the Cardinals plan to do with their receivers this season because they did it last season: go deep.
They have Rondale Moore, James Conner, Darrel Williams, and Zach Ertz to handle the short stuff, so they can send DeAndre Hopkins (and Marquise Brown) deep with wanton abandon. That will work out exceptionally well for them, as Kyler Murray was top-five in PlayerProfiler.com’s deep ball catchable pass rate. That makes for good downfield attempts for DeAndre Hopkins. He might lose the targets, which costs him PPR value, but his non-reception-based production stayed nearly the same last year, as he lost just 0.3 non-PPR points per game.
2022 DeAndre Hopkins Fantasy Football Draft Strategy:
So, what do we do with DeAndre Hopkins? He has a new running mate to deal with in Marquise Brown, but Brown should slide right into the Christian Kirk role from last year, so I’m not too worried about that. In PPR leagues, you have to take a hit on his per-game production because of the loss in catches due to the Cardinals utilizing him downfield more. Still, touchdowns can more than offset a loss in catches, as long as he still gets them. And I feel he will. Even with all those changes, per game, DeAndre Hopkins was still WR20 in points per game (excluding Cyril Grayson who played 3 games, and Kristian Wilkerson, who played in one game).
So, we now have to wrangle with the suspension. He will miss six games this season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. That makes his triumphant return week seven against the Saints. He will then get the Vikings, three division opponent games, the Chargers, his bye, and then the Patriots before the playoffs. So, you have to decide if that gauntlet is one that you want to lean into for Hopkins. Personally, I would. Sure, he’ll face Marshon Lattimore, J.C. Jackson, Jalen Ramsey, and Charvarius Ward in that stretch, but he’s also still DeAndre Hopkins.
Right now, his suspension is adequately baked into his ADP. He is pick 75 off the board right now (WR32) and $5 in salary cap drafts. Personally, I am taking the massive discount in salary cap drafts for a guy who is going to miss six games not because of injury, but because of suspension. Plus, we know his performance will be enhanced! It’s right there in the name.
Hopkins’ ADP in snake drafts is a bit tougher to swallow if you’re a JuJu Smith-Schuster or Rashod Bateman believer, as all three go between pick 74 and 78. If you believe JuJu and/or Rashod Bateman will be a top-20 wide receiver all season long, then go with them. If not, then hold out for DeAndre Hopkins. I just think it’s important to know that his usage patterns have changed thanks to a deep and varied wide receiver corps, so you’re waiting on a different DeAndre Hopkins, not the one we’ve known to love.
Best Case Scenario:
DeAndre Hopkins comes back and finishes as a top-ten wide receiver in the final 11 games of the season.
Worst Case Scenario:
DeAndre Hopkins comes back during the traditional “Kliff Kingsbury Second Half Swoon” and he & Kyler can’t get back on the same page. He bounces back after the Cardinals fire Kingsbury following an embarrassing 33-17 home loss to the Seahawks in week nine.
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[Statistics are sourced from pro-football-reference.com, airyards.com, and ftnfantasy.com]
[Image Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0b/Cardinals_WR_DeAndre_Hopkins.jpg under CC BY SA 2.0]