DeAndre Hopkins Traded to Arizona: The Ripple Effects of a Fantasy Football Tidal Wave
Image Credit: Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sports. Pictured: DeAndre Hopkins.

DeAndre Hopkins — he of ridiculous catches and more confidence than you and me combined — was, for some unknown reason, traded to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for David Johnson and some draft picks, none of which are first-rounders. So what is the fantasy impact of this move?

Real-life trades that would be rejected in fantasy aside, what does Hopkins’ arrival in Arizona mean from a fantasy perspective?

Fantasy Impact of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals

Hopkins has arguably been the best fantasy WR over the past three seasons. He was the No. 1 fantasy wideout in both 2017 and 2018, and he was the No. 5 scorer at the position in 2019.

From 2017-2019, Hopkins is the overall fantasy WR2:

deandre-hopkins-cardinals-fantasy-impact-scoring

All of this is to say that Hopkins doesn’t really have room to go up. He was a proven fantasy monster in Houston, so a move away from that great situation should make you at least a little bit nervous.

However, there are also great pieces in Arizona and plenty to be excited for, so I’d grade Hopkins’ move as a sidegrade rather than a downgrade.

According to our Pace App, Arizona was by far the most up-tempo team in the NFL last year, running no-huddle on 27% of their plays with a seconds-per-snap average of 24.5, third-fastest in the NFL.

The Cardinals also had a heavier pass-run ratio than the Texans (60-40 vs. 56-44), and Kyler Murray attempted about one extra pass per game than Deshaun Watson. So, in theory, there should be slightly more opportunity for Watson with a fast-pace offense.

There should not be a tremendous fantasy impact on DeAndre Hopkins joining the Cardinals, and a top-five fantasy season is still in the cards. The history of WRs changing teams should still alert us to the inherent risks.

What Does Hopkins’ Arrival Mean for Kyler Murray?

This is a huge, huge boon for Murray and catapults him firmly into the elite fantasy QB1 conversation. Poised for a second-year breakout, Murray might have been a slightly under-the-radar fantasy option during drafts. Those dreams have been dashed.

Murray finished his rookie season as the QB9, and, per our NFL Stat Explorer, only three of his 16 games were subpar from a fantasy perspective.

Adding one of the league’s top WRs to the Cardinals offense is obviously a big plus for Murray, especially when adding in the fact he’s not losing any other elite pass-catching options (outside of maybe David Johnson, but he will be solidly replaced by Kenyan Drake).

Murray is a top-six fantasy QB for 2020, and a top-three finish is within reach if we can “make the leap.”

What does this mean for Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk?

In 2019, Christian Kirk commanded a 24% team target market share, while Larry Fitzgerald saw 21% of the looks.

Hopkins comes in and blows the whole situation up, though. He’s the biggest target monster in the entire league. Here are Hopkins’ rates each of the last three seasons:

  • 31% target market share in 2019 (second in NFL)
  • 33% target market share in 2018 (first in NFL)
  • 35% target market share in 2017 (first in NFL)

The Cardinals are going to have to make room for their new alpha dog — so who gives up room?

Odds are it will be Fitzgerald, who will be 37 when the new season begins. Moving into more of a supportive role — rather than seeing one of every five targets — makes more sense at this stage of his career. Fitzgerald will still be draftable, but he won’t be a weekly fantasy starter.

Kirk had signs of a breakout last year, finishing with 68 catches, 709 yards, and three scores. Except … all of those TDs came in the same game. In fantasy, Kirk was a WR1 in one game (8%), a WR2 in four games (31%), and a WR3 or worse in 62% of his games. Kirk will be a flex option in 2020 with a decent shot as tail-end WR2 numbers.

DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals: Fantasy impact on Will Fuller in Houston

The fantasy impact of DeAndre Hopkins joining the Cardinals extends to his former team, too.

RotoViz’s Samuel Wallace wrote an excellent piece on what to make of Will Fuller in dynasty now that Hopkins has departed. For the 2020 season, Fuller is a fantasy WR2, but he will obviously have numerous flash weeks.

Tyler Loechner

Tyler specializes in DFS, redraft, and dynasty. He is a member of the FSWA and won the Best Football Series award in 2017. Tyler previously wrote for PFF Fantasy and Bleacher Report.
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