Fantasy Impact: DeAndre Hopkins Traded to the Cardinals
In what might be the biggest trade we’ll see in all of 2020, the Houston Texans have traded superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.
WHY IT HAPPENED
There were whispers about Hopkins being available for trade early Monday morning, though we’ve heard these rumors before. Apparently, Hopkins is unhappy with his contract that has three years and roughly $40 million left on it, and the Texans were unwilling to renegotiate. So, they shipped off the superstar for what’s perceived to be very little in return.
ELITE PRODUCTION DESPITE QUARTERBACK
Hopkins has been a staple of the Texans offense over the years and it hasn’t mattered who was under center. He’s totaled at least 76 receptions in each of the last six years, while registering 1,165-plus yards in five of them. What makes this all the more impressive is that he’s done it with Deshaun Watson, Tom Savage, T.J. Yates, Brock Osweiler, Brian Hoyer, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Mallett, and Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starting quarterbacks.
IS NEWER BETTER?
Moving over to the Cardinals, Hopkins immediately becomes Kyler Murray‘s top option in a pass-heavy attack. Similar to his time in Houston, he has some other playmakers on the team. Christian Kirk is the guy they drafted to be a potential No. 1, though he was always much better suited to play a slot-heavy role.
Here’s the issue, though: We can’t take for granted the fact that Hopkins has seen at least 150 targets in each of the last five seasons, a number that would be extremely tough to hit in 2020 with the receivers/running backs they have on the roster. They did target their wide receivers 368 times last year, which accounted for 66.5 percent of their pass attempts. That is massive. By comparison, the Texans threw to their wide receivers on 62.4 percent of their attempts.
Knowing that Kyler Murray‘s leash will be much shorter in 2020, the Cardinals should be expected to actually increase their 553 pass attempts from 2019 in year two under Kliff Kingsbury. Their defense also makes it very likely that they need to increase those attempts to stay in games. Even if we give them a moderate increase to 575 pass attempts, a 66.5 percent target share would leave 382 targets for the wide receivers.
When he was actually on the field last year, Christian Kirk netted a 23 percent target share, which would amount to 132.3 targets if he played a full 16-game season with 575 pass attempts. That’s extremely doable for Hopkins on his new team, though I’m guessing he’ll get close to the 25 percent target share mark (would amount to 143.8 targets).
You don’t make a trade for someone like Hopkins without big plans in order. If you look at a team like the Bucs who just produced two top-six fantasy wide receivers because of how bad their defense was/how many pass attempts they made (similar things can happen with the Cardinals), you can see a scenario in which both Kirk and Hopkins can be fantasy superstars. If Fitzgerald had retired, there would’ve been a chance, but he must cap the potential of one/both of them.
While I do believe that Hopkins’ overall ceiling may have decreased given the talent around him in Arizona, he should remain a rock-solid WR1 option in fantasy football. He’s been able to remain healthy his entire career (missed two games in seven years), has gotten the job done with bottom-of-the-barrel options, and now plays for a creative offensive coordinator with a young, up-and-coming quarterback. He’s someone you should consider drafting in the middle of the second-round in 2020 fantasy drafts.