Fantasy Reaction: DeAndre Hopkins Suspended First Six Games of the 2022 Season (Fantasy Football)
On Monday afternoon, Cardinals’ All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins was suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Drug policy. Per a social media post from Hopkins, the positive test reportedly came in November of 2021 prior to the end of his season, which was cut short due to an MCL injury in Week 14. Nuk went on to miss the remainder of the regular season, which had a significant impact on how the Cardinals’ offense performed down the stretch. Hopkins also missed Weeks 9-11 due to a hamstring injury.
See you Week 7. pic.twitter.com/rHTofEx7jK
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) May 3, 2022
With Hopkins set to miss the first six weeks, this is an obvious downgrade to the entire Cardinals’ offense for the first month and a half of the season. A year ago, without Hopkins in the lineup, Kyler Murray struggled, throwing for just 251 passing yards per game as opposed to 278 passing yards per game when Hopkins played. In those contests without Hopkins, he also averaged just 21.0 fantasy points per game versus 25.8 points per game with Hopkins on the field. It’s possible some of this concern is mitigated with the addition of WR Marquise Brown, who was just acquired via trade during the NFL Draft.
With Christian Kirk now in Jacksonville, Hollywood Brown is the most obvious beneficiary with Hopkins on the sideline. Brown, who played in college with Kyler Murray, should lead the WR room in targets during Hopkins’ absence, giving him legitimate top 12 WR upside weekly in what projects as one of the highest-powered offenses in the league in 2022. Last season, Brown set career highs in targets (145), receptions (91), and yards (1,008), and with Hopkins vacating about a 20% target share during the first six weeks of the season, there’s certainly room for Brown to replicate a similar pace, especially early in the season. Declining veteran, A.J. Green, and 2nd year slot/gadget WR, Rondale Moore, should also have immediate paths to playing time, but as we saw last year, those two players struggled to produce for fantasy. The other sneaky winner in this situation is TE Zach Ertz, who re-signed with Arizona this off-season on a three-year deal. Last year when Hopkins was sidelined because of injury, Ertz averaged 9 targets per game, which led all Cardinal pass catchers in that sample.