You’ve likely heard it said that ‘buying the dip’ is a cheat code to success in fantasy football. This adage simply means that you should be mindful of temporary lulls in a player’s value, particularly those for whom you anticipate a rebound.
In the information age, with data and news at our fingertips, player values can be incredibly volatile. Reaction to injury or off-the-field concerns can sink the desirability of a once promising dynasty piece. Savvy owners leverage panic into favorable acquisitions, with the expectation that these plummets are temporary.
The premier fantasy talents are familiar. As such, their scarcity divides them evenly. However, piecing together enough below radar high-potential, bargain investments is often a true difference maker. Lock in enough of these gems, and you could be staring at a championship come January.
In essence, that is the purpose of this series. I will look in-depth at players who may have lost some of their shine in fantasy circles but still have a lot to offer your lineup. Armed with this knowledge, you can go forth and snatch up these quiet values to set your team apart.
Today, we look at a long-time jewel in the NFL’s receiving crown, DeAndre ‘Nuk’ Hopkins. Since being drafted at 27th overall in 2013 by the Texans, Hopkins has dazzled fans with amazing catches and gaudy statistics. In seven seasons with Houston, DeAndre amassed 8,602 receiving yards on 632 receptions along with 54 touchdowns. Rather than reward the second most accomplished receiver in franchise history, the club opted to clumsily ship him off to Arizona in a trade that, in retrospect, seems more misguided with each passing day.
As a Cardinal, Hopkins got off to a hot start in 2020, with 1,407 yards receiving on 115 receptions. He quickly became a go-to for young quarterback Kyler Murray, who rightfully recognized Nuk as a catalyst for the Arizona offense.
So how can a player of this caliber present a good buy opportunity? Well, there are many factors.
Firstly, many owners are concerned about longevity. And frankly, with Hopkins having recently turned 30, he may not be ideally suited for a rebuilding roster.
Additionally, 2021 represented a down year for Hopkins. He played just ten games after losing time to a hamstring strain and, ultimately, a torn MCL. In stark contrast to his reliably lavish totals, he managed just 572 receiving yards on 42 receptions in this injury-plagued year.
Lastly, and most notably, Hopkins received a league suspension for the first six games of 2022 for violations of the performance-enhancing drug policy. Obviously, a player with age concerns who is guaranteed to miss more than a third of the pending season is a cause for concern for many.
The aforementioned concerns have caused an abrupt and disproportionate drop-off in Hopkins’ value. In the most recent ADP from FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Hopkins holds a current dynasty startup ADP of 65.1, which qualifies him as pick 6.05 in a 12-team league. He is the 28th wide receiver off the board.
Now contrast that to just two years ago, when DeAndre was routinely selected with first-round capital, boasting an ADP of 9.1. By consensus, only Davante Adams was more highly coveted as a receiver in 2020.
Recent trades harvested from the Dynasty Nerds GM tool confirm Hopkins’ plunge. In one exchange, the star receiver was proffered in exchange for Clyde Edwards-Helaire and a 2024 third-round pick. In another, Hopkins was dealt for K.J. Osborn and a 2022 second-round pick.
DeAndre Hopkins has never been more affordable, folks.
To evaluate Hopkins’ potential, let’s look at the last five years of fantasy production. The table below lists PPR data, courtesy of Fantasy Pros. The injury-laden 2021 season is immediately anomalous compared to the body of work. After four consecutive seasons as a top 5 receiver, Hopkins’ production fell off considerably.
Some may attribute that drop-off to age. However, I would argue that Hopkins was as potent as ever when healthy.
You may be familiar with the venerable Bob Lung and his annual Fantasy Football Consistency Guide (a highly recommended tool for any fantasy enthusiast). As you might guess from the title, this periodical focuses on the consistency of player performance, utilizing a metric called “clutch rate (CR).” CR measures the frequency for which a player delivered a clutch performance compared to their total available games.
In 2021, despite a down year, Hopkins scored a CR of 80%, clearly illustrating he could still dominate when his body was right. By Mr. Lung’s scoring rubric, players with a rating of 80% or greater are considered ‘elite studs.’
Hopkins, as a player, is still dripping with potential.
Arizona set a new course for their franchise in 2019, enlisting head coach Kliff Kingsbury from the college ranks. As a coach known for formidable offense, Kingsbury wasted no time hitching his wagon to a dynamic quarterback. Oklahoma Sooner standout, Kyler Murray, was drafted first overall by the Cardinals later that offseason.
In three years with Kingsbury and Murray, Arizona has increased year-over-year in completions (ascending from 19th most in the NFL to 8th) and passing yards (24th to 10th).
Though Murray is the headliner, the Cardinals have also drafted four receivers and two tight ends under Kingsbury’s brief leadership. They have also added veteran weapons like Hopkins, Zach Ertz, and Marquise Brown via trade.
It is a fruitful offense for pass catchers, which looks to air it out early and often. And based on the statistical and personnel trends, it appears that Arizona will continue to do so.
Over the past five seasons, DeAndre Hopkins has averaged WR1 production. However, he is currently severely devalued due to age, injury, and suspension. In Week 7, he will return from suspension motivated by pride. He’ll join an ascending Arizona offense largely predicated on the passing attack.
Based in a dome amongst the temperate NFC West, it is entirely reasonable to suspect that Hopkins has at least a year or two left as an elite receiving option. There’s never been a better time to acquire a receiver with real differentiating potential for your stretch run. If you’re a contender, take advantage of a tremendous bargain on Hopkins before it’s too late!
I thoroughly enjoyed bringing you this piece and would love to continue the conversation on DeAndre Hopkins. Please feel free to comment below or contact me @Spydes78 on Twitter. And also, stay tuned to @DynastyNerds for a steady pipeline of content from our eminently qualified staff to carry you through your offseason. Enjoy the grind!