Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first six games of the 2022 NFL season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Cardinals’ Pro-Bowl WR DeAndre Hopkins is being suspended six games for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy, league sources tell ESPN. pic.twitter.com/hNGNX4Aegx
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2022
In yet another setback for the league’s highest-paid receiver, the specific games Hopkins will miss are not yet known, but we’ll have clarity after the schedule release on May 12.
Last year, Hopkins suffered knee and hamstring injuries that cost him seven of the last nine games of the season. He underwent surgery to repair a torn medial collateral ligament and was on track to be fully recovered ahead of offseason activities. He turns 30 in June.
During Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft, Hopkins gained a new running mate in former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Marquise Brown after the Cards traded for the 2019 draft’s 25th pick. Brown was acquired to offset the loss of Christian Kirk in free agency, and he’ll now be tasked with assuming the top receiver duties in Nuk’s absence. The collegiate connection between Hollywood and his “old-new” quarterback, Kyler Murray, should make for a smooth transition.
Other receivers asked to do more will be Rondale Moore, a second-year player who has the explosiveness in the open field to take a short pass the distance just about any time he touches the ball. Veteran A.J. Green re-signed to play his age-34 season in the desert after a so-so campaign a year ago with Arizona. He finished 2021 with a 54-848-3 line in 16 appearances as the WR42 in PPR scoring. Speedy wide receiver Andy Isabella also remains on the roster, although he has been the subject of trade chatter of late.
In addition to those moves, Arizona re-signed tight end Zach Ertz to a three-year extension, and tight end Trey McBride — widely viewed as the top rookie of this year’s class — was chosen in Round 2.
Finally, don’t discredit the above-average receiving skills of running back James Conner. Hopkins’ typically domineering target share creates a few more available looks to go around, including a trickle-down effect for safety values, such as the former Pittsburgh Steeler.
Fantasy football takeaway
The move makes Hopkins a low-end No. 2 receiver target in reception-rewarding formats. He’ll definitely miss the six contests but also comes with elevated injury concerns after being tough as nails during his career. In early drafts, his average position was WR10 with an ADP of Pick 3:04. That should tumble into Round 6 or so with the suspension news. Every league will be slightly different, of course, with Hopkins going a little sooner and later. Having a feel for your league’s tendencies can help finely tune knowing when to strike optimal value. As always, he his a much more reliable contributor in PPR.
Brown’s value will be at its peak in 2022 during the six-game window the Cardinals are without Hopkins. Given the aforementioned familiarity and existing chemistry with Murray, Hollywood can play like a low-end WR1 during the suspension, given the right matchups, but he’s a much safer No. 2 lineup consideration. It’s reasonable to expect his big-play nature will continue to make him a more valuable start in non-PPR scoring.
Moore presents the most upside here. He can thrive with limited volume and also has the skill set to see the occasional gadget play come his direction. As a 2021 rookie, his career started off on a promising foot as Moore finished with at least 10 PPR points in three of the first five contests before fading into oblivion the rest of the way. Thanks to a full season under his belt, the electric Purdue product has serious boom potential in the early going. He’s getting drafted as a WR4/No. 5 in recent drafts, which is bound to move closer toward being a third in the near future. That said, his season-long value will take a substantial hit with Brown’s acquisition and the eventual return of Hopkins.
Green isn’t more than a late-round roster-filler at this point in his career, and even this news doesn’t give the veteran much of a boost in fantasy appeal. He’ll have flex utility in both prominent scoring systems while Hopkins is away, and that value craters with D-Hop’s return to the lineup.
While McBride may find a few more targets heading his way early in the season, rookie tight ends rarely contribute statistically in a fantasy-relevant manner. He is best reserved exclusively for daily fantasy cash games and showdown contests. Ertz, on the other hand, will be a weekly lineup fixture and figures to pace this passing game in volume during Hopkins’ stead.
As for Murray, he loses a bit of luster for the first third of the season. There’s still midrange starter’s worth to be found in the fourth-year quarterback, mainly thanks to his legs and top trio of remaining pass-catching outlets. Bump him down a notch or two in the overall rankings, though.