The Houston Texans have acquired one-year wonder running back David Johnson and change for arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins. Every surprised-face emoji in the book doesn’t do justice to the collective shock around the fantasy football world right now.
The two sides of the deal break down as follows:
What Arizona gets
Nuk has proven to be successful with a mobile quarterback, posting elite numbers while paired with Deshaun Watson. As a player, Arizona lands:
- Possibly the best combination of receiver and blocker in the NFL
- The surest hands in the game for quarterback Kyler Murray
- A real heir apparent to Larry Fitzgerald beyond 2020
- The ability to unleash the true Air Raid system
At only 27 years old, Hopkins is in the prime of his career. He has missed two career games, despite nagging injuries in recent times, but his grit is apparent even when I don’t wear my glasses.
There’s no need to rehash all of the specific stats posted by Hopkins in his career. His fantasy ranking among PPR wide receivers speaks for itself:
- 5th in 15 games in 2019
- 1st in 2018 (16 games)
- 1st in 2017 (15 games)
Hopkins will remain among the best fantasy football options, regardless of positions, and is a lock in the first round of PPR drafts. The biggest winner is Murray, and he goes from being an erratic QB1 whose legs bailed him out a great deal to a second-year passer on the verge of exploding.
The transition tagging of running back Kenyan Drake means he’ll be “the guy” in the backfield but share touches with Chase Edmonds. As a result, the Cardinals are off of the hook for DJ’s ridiculous contract — money that could bolster the defense and O-line. These moves ultimately suggest the Air Raid will be carpet-bombing its competition in 2020.
A view from Houston’s side
What. The. $%@#.
Johnson had one insanely productive year in 2016 and then fractured his wrist in the opener of the following season, and he hasn’t been the same guy since. Is he nervous to take a shot? Did the fantasy community overvalue his talent based on one otherworldly fantasy season? Was he a poor fit for last year’s Arizona offense? A blend of all is most likely the case.
Fantasy footballers should have limited confidence in Johnson as anything more than a weak RB2, but one has to wonder if they will see anything close to that level of play. Carlos Hyde checked in as a competent second back in 2019, and Houston’s suspect passing game without Hopkins means more attention will be focused on the backfield. (Hyde turning down a deal to return may tell a more interesting tale after today’s trade, but that’s a story for another time.)
Speaking of those receivers, one has to assume the Texans intend to add a stable veteran to fill the void of Hopkins being dealt, but there’s also a slim chance of landing a wideout in a trade. Rolling with what we know, Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee are the top wideouts in Houston right now. Yikes.
Houston could be angling toward a power-running approach and help make up some of the target loss with the versatile Johnson, as well as throw more to the tight end position. Fuller staying healthy is a gamble no one should be inclined to make, yet the math suggests he is bound to play a full season sooner or later. Coutee has flashed but couldn’t secure a top-three spot last year when Fuller was out, and Stills is a complementary piece entering the decline of his athleticism.
Watson’s fantasy value tanks to barely startable right now, but it is subject to change if some in the conversation of Hopkins’ skill set comes into the mix (perhaps a trade for Odell Beckham Jr. or a signing of Antonio Brown). It seems like a wash, at best, if not a downgrade to throw a bunch of money at Amari Cooper when Nuk already was under contract. Any which way one looks at the situation, it definitely feels like there’s more to come for Houston.