DeAndre Hopkins Traded
The Houston Texans surprised everyone Monday, as they decided to trade superstar wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick and a 2021 fourth-rounder.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported that the reasoning behind the trade was that the Texans “didn’t want to re-do Hopkins’ contract with three years left.” Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle also reported that “friction existed between [Hopkins] and Bill O’Brien that could ultimately lead to his exit.”
Regardless of salary cost, or lack of draft capital – another rumored reason the Texans made the move – trading away one of the leagues best wide receivers without getting a first-round pick in exchange is a total failure. Texans fans have been devastated with the move, but to make matters worse, GM Bill O’Brien then went out and overpaid 30-year old Randall Cobb as Hopkins replacement hours later. The former Cowboys wide receiver was signed to a three-year contract worth $27 million. A deal that included $18.75 million guaranteed.
Texans Fantasy Impact
Clearly losing DeAndre Hopkins will be a massive hit on the value of Deshaun Watson, but the question is how big will the hit be? The Texans are without a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft after trading for OL Laremy Tunsil last year. However, the team does have two second-round picks (40th and 57th). I think the Texans will have to add an additional wide receiver with one of those picks. Will Fuller is a talented player and can stretch the field when needed but has struggled with injuries. He isn’t a WR1 and can’t be trusted to play a full season. The sleeper amongst the crowd might be Kenny Stills, a forgotten gem thrown in with the Tunsil trade. Stills had 40 receptions off 55 targets and 4 touchdowns last season. According to FantasyData’s Advanced WR Efficiency Metrics, Stills ranked 5th in the NFL for true catch rate. He also tied for 7th for Target Breakdown Accuracy, a metric that grades the accuracy each of target.
Glass half full the Texans get production out of players like Cobb, Fuller, Stills and maybe even David Johnson to keep their passing game competitive. This would allow Watson to become a sneaky late-round bargain as he’s likely to fall in fantasy drafts in comparison to previous years ADP. Playcalling has always been an issue for the Texans, but another positive is Bill O’Brien has given up his play-calling duties, which could help the team become more consistent on offense. Overall the fantasy perception of this squad will likely see a negative outlook entering the summer without Hopkins which could mean decent value. Of course, the glass half empty side is this team implodes, O’Brien is fired and the new coach blows up this roster next season.
I think the Texans draft, especially those two second-rounders will be key on getting a read on this team this offseason.
Cardinals Fantasy Impact
Hopkins is a perfect fit for the Cardinals who were desperately in need to acquire talent for last year’s first overall pick Kyler Murray. Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald, and emerging youngster Christian Kirk create a powerful trio for the Cards. However, it’ll be interesting to see if Nuk can gel with Murray right away. Much like the OBJ trade to Cleveland, there could be a learning curve early on. Fantasy owners may flock to the Cardinals as the hype team of 2020, and may not get full return on their fantasy investment. Hopkins is an elite talent but is used to seeing a lot of targets. The Cardinals have a loaded roster including Kenyan Drake, an RB who ranked 12 in running back receptions last season. I expect great things from Hopkins in Arizona, but in terms of fantasy value, I’ll be curious (and cautious) to see where some of these fantasy studs land in ADP this summer.