DeAndre Hopkins has been a staple among the top of dynasty wide receivers for half a decade. With his positional ADP falling no lower than 6.9, and being as high as 1.2, Hopkins’ value has never been in question. But what if I told you that the 28-year old receiver may not only no longer be a top-5 dynasty wide receiver, but also may be looking at a finish outside of the top-12 fantasy scorers in 2020?
Over the last five years, no wide receiver has been targeted more than Hopkins (830). Even narrowing that down to the last three years to include Michael Thomas’ ascent, Hopkins still leads all receivers with 487 targets. The opportunity and volume have pretty much always been there, and as such Hopkins has remained at the top of fantasy finishes. That could all begin to change beginning in 2020 though.
Target Market Share
Since 2015, DeAndre Hopkins has finished 3rd, 6th, 1st, 1st, and 2nd, respectively, in the league in target market share percentage. In fact, he has three of the seven instances of a receiver yielding 30+% of a team’s targets over that timeframe. The one year where he finished outside of the top-5 in target market share (2016), Hopkins finished as the WR27 in fantasy points. Yes, that was the year Brock Osweiler was at the helm and performed poorly, but Hopkins still commanded 151 targets that season which in a normal year would place him in the top-7 or so in total targets. When Hopkins saw his total targets dip a bit, we saw the production fall off as well.
Related to target market share is considering that fellow pass-catchers Hopkins had competing for targets. Looking at Hopkins’ first two seasons, he played second-fiddle to Andre Johnson. In year two, Hopkins was still able to produce a WR14 season after his targets jumped to 127, even while trailing teammate Johnson in total targets. Posting a robust 15.9 yards per reception (a career-high thus far) helped DeAndre sustain good fantasy production on reduced targets.
When Andre Johnson departed for Indianapolis in the 2015 season, it left Hopkins as the focal point of the Texans passing attack. In fact, focal point may be an understatement. The next closest target competition for Hopkins since 2015 have been:
Then the past three years, the number two option in Houston’s passing offense has averaged just 58 targets! Hopkins has been option 1, 2, and 3 for the Texans and turned the extreme volume into great production.
Change of Scenery
As we all know, Hopkins will be starting the 2020 season with the Arizona Cardinals after an offseason trade. Not only is the abbreviated offseason a bit of a concern for players changing schemes, but in general, wide receivers on new squads do not return WR1 numbers in year one. By my count, the last receiver to finish as a top-12 fantasy wide receiver in the first season with his new team is Brandon Marshall in 2015, who moved from Denver to New York. Marshall garnered 170+ targets and collected 14 touchdowns in year one with the Jets, propelling him to a WR3 finish. We have seen recently receivers continue to be productive though on new teams. Brown (John, not Antonio) finished as the WR20 with Buffalo last season, and in 2018 Amari Cooper saw success with Dallas after a mid-season trade. However, being productive and being top-12 productive are two different things.
Do You Really Believe Hopkins Will Fall Off?
No, I am not spewing a hot take for the sake of being contrarian. Now note, I am not arguing that Hopkins is washed, or will fall off a cliff over the next year or two. However, I do not think he will be garnering 30% of the Arizona targets and enjoying 160+ target campaigns. Last year, both Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk were involved in the Cardinals passing offense, averaging 6.8 and 8.3 targets per game, respectively. Both players were fairly consistent week to week and were not over-reliant on massive target games to prop up their per game average.
We would expect Kirk to continue to develop as a receiver, and to see him top 125 targets in a full season would not be a shock. While Fitzgerald will be the clear #3 receiver in this offense, he will not be disappearing in 2020. And while we all love Kyler Murray, he is not as good of a quarterback right now as Deshaun Watson. According to PFF, Murray was ranked 32nd in passing grade from Week 10 on, meaning Hopkins may be working with lesser quality targets in addition to lower volume. I still expect Hopkins to flirt with 25% target market share for Arizona, but with more target competition and a new offense altogether, it is quite possible Hopkins is on the outside looking in at top-12 status in 2020 and perhaps beyond.
You can find me on Twitter (@_TaylorCornell), and the rest of my written work here. Recent articles include where we can expect Tannehill to regress, why Miles Sanders is "safe" to produce RB1 numbers, and whether Corey Davis has a chance to ever break out.