Even though players can’t officially sign and join new organizations until Wednesday, March 18 when the new league year officially begins, the legal tampering period kicked off Monday at noon. During that legal tampering period, players can agree to terms with new teams.
With that initial period underway, we received a bombshell within the first 90 minutes….
Cardinals get: WR DeAndre Hopkins and a 4th-round pick.
Texans get: RB David Johnson, a second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2020
There’s a lot to unpack here in terms of moving parts, but for this individual post, we’re looking at the best fantasy asset involved with DeAndre Hopkins.
DeAndre Hopkins Career Stats
|Year||Age||Gm||Tgt/Gm||Rec/Gm||ReYd/Gm||Yd/Rec||ReTD||PPR/Gm||PPR PPG Rk|
His yardage per game and per reception dipped in 2019, but Hopkins is one of the few bonafide true alpha wide receivers in the league that is still in his prime. Since entering the league in 2013, Hopkins ranks third in receptions and receiving yardage behind only Julio Jones and Antonio Brown while trailing only Brown in receiving touchdowns over that span.
After starting his career with uneven quarterback play to say mildly, Hopkins had finally found attachment to a stable passer when Deshaun Watson was selected in 2017. With that stability, he’s locked in three straight top-five scoring seasons per game at the wide receiver position.
The other side of that coin is that Watson is now losing Hopkins. To begin Watson’s career, Hopkins has accounted for 31.9% of Watson’s passing targets, 32.7% of is completed passes, 34.3% of his passing yardage, and 35.2% of his passing touchdowns. That’s a massive void to be filled with Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, DeAndre Carter, and Keke Coutee sitting as the primary pass catchers currently on the Houston roster without a true tight end presence, either. Watson still offers upside in the rushing component of his game, but losing Hopkins stands to put a dent in his overall output if Houston doesn’t add more to the roster this offseason.
Fuller has has now missed multiple games in all four seasons of his career with 22 missed games in total. Stills was much more effective last season operating as the team’s third target than when Fuller missed time. That’s a sketchy group to enter 2020 with at face value. The Texans thought so as well, and later added Randall Cobb to the fold on a three-year contract. Cobb will be 30-years-old at the start of the 2020 season without a season higher than WR46 in PPR points per game since 2015. His addition continues to stall out hope for a third-year breakout from Coutee.
One quarterback’s loss is another’s gain as Kyler Murray gets a true lead target in his second NFL season. As a rookie, Murray was the QB8 overall the QB12 in points per game as a rookie with a limited supporting cast while facing the fourth-hardest schedule of opposing pass defenses in passing efficiency. In early quarterback ranks, I had Watson as the QB3 and Murray as the QB4. Those could very well flip now.
It’s hard not to draw parallels to this move and the intitial buzz for Murray to how excited we got for Baker Mayfield getting Odell Beckham under similar circumstances a year ago. I do stock Murray’s rushing component for fantasy as adding more stability and a floor than what Mayfield had. I also stock Kliff Kingsbury’s acumen more than that of Freddie Kitchens, but Murray will undoubtedly jump to a price in seasonal leagues that will be hard to pay the sticker price for.
The Cardinals wide receiving corps was limited in year one under Kingsbury, which prevented him from fully deploying his air raid scheme, but they still used three or more wide receivers on a league-high 42% of their passing plays in 2019. Third-year wideout Christian Kirk saw a slight volume bump in 2019, with his target share per game rising to 23.1% after a 20.2% per game mark as a rookie in 2018. His 8.3 targets per game were good for 16th among wideouts, but dipped in output per catch and per target, losing 3.3 yards per catch and 2.1 yards per target off his rookie year efficiency. Even in a pass-heavy scheme, adding a ball hog like Hopkins does ding Kirk’s potentially for a third-year spike.
Turning 37-years-old this August, Larry Fitzgerald dipped to WR47 in points per game in 2019 while his targets per game have dropped from 10.1 in 2017, to 7.0 per game in 2018 and 6.8 per game a year ago. Fitz has had at least 100 total targets in all 16 of his illustrious NFL seasons, but he is only a fantasy bench option heading into what could be his final season.