Newly released free agent DeAndre Hopkins now has control over his own destiny. After months of Arizona trying, and obviously failing, to trade DeAndre Hopkins he is now free to sign with any team he chooses. While there won’t be a shortage of suitors, does it matter where DeAndre Hopkins is catching passes next?
Obviously from a reality standpoint, it does, but strictly from a fantasy perspective is the impact really that significant? Can any team elevate his expected level of play?
Hopkins in a recent interview on the I Am Athlete Podcast listed the top five QBs he’d like to play with, but there will be more opportunities than that. Looking at the teams of those QBs on his list and expanding it to other potentials (excluding the Jets and Titans who have expressed doubt about signing the five-time All-Pro) one opportunity is clearly superior to the rest.
Does it Matter Which of the QBs on DeAndre Hopkins List He is Catching Passes From?
The QBs that make up Hopkins’ top five candidates all have two overarching themes. First, they’re elite QBs. Second, they’re on some pretty darn good teams. The QBs he named are Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert. These teams are also among the best teams in the league. Hopkins would excel with any of these QBs passing to them. Most WRs would (and do) put up big-time numbers catching passes from these players. That’s what MVP-caliber players do, elevate those around them. Beyond those five teams, who else would form great QB/WR tandems with Hopkins?
Other QBs Outside Hopkins Top Five?
It’s a passing league these days and that means there are more than 5 great QBs. While he didn’t name them, Hopkins would probably find similar success with QBs such as Joe Burrow in Cincinnati or Dan Prescott in Dallas. He’d also work wonders with his fellow Clemson Tiger alumni in DeShaun Watson if they reunited in Cleveland, or Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville. Kirk Cousins having Hopkins lined up opposite Justin Jefferson would be fun to watch too.
Those teams along with the five on Hopkins’ list probably present the best QB situations Hopkins could find himself in. Looking strictly at who Hopkins would be catching passes from off of these two lists, do any stand out amongst the others? Not really. Hopkins’ talent is on a level where his value won’t rise or fall all that much just based on which top-end QB is throwing him passes.
Fantasy football, however, doesn’t just come down to the talent around you. Volume is king in fantasy no matter how good you are. This takes us to our next section.
Teams Without a Great QB but No WR1
There are other teams we haven’t listed but would still be a great fit for Hopkins. Teams such as the Chargers and Jaguars would be overloaded at WR with the addition of Hopkins and while he may still be the top option, it’s hard to imagine he would get the lion’s share of targets week in and week out. Two teams that are playoff contenders and give Hopkins the opportunity to be the standalone WR1 on the roster are the Giants and the Patriots.
Let’s start with the Giants. They made upgrades at WR this year, bringing in speed with the additions of Paris Campbell and Jaylin Hyatt. The return of Sterling Sheperd and Wan’Dale Robinson should also provide a boost to the depth of the receiving room. Nobody in that receiver room really sticks out among the rest as THAT guy. The Giants added Darren Waller too but even with him in the mix, Hopkins would be the clear-cut number-one WR.
The Patriots are an interesting team. Will Mac Jones remain the QB all season or will Bailey Zappe steal his thunder once again? Either way, this is about the WR rooms and that’s where there is a hole in New England. Jakobi Meyers was the top guy the last two years and even though New England added Juju Smith-Schuster this offseason, does anyone believe that he and Hopkins are on the same level? Hopkins would easily command the football in New England with 10+ targets a game before they consider spreading the rock.
The increase in volume Hopkins would see in New York and New England would offset the lack of talent their QBs have compared to the previous passers we mentioned. So it doesn’t matter where DeAndre Hopkins signs as long as he isn’t on a team where he wouldn’t see a ton of targets coming from a below-par QB. There is one team that stands out amongst the rest that offers Hopkins both a top QB and a ton of volume.
For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!
The One Team Where It Would Matter
No matter where Hopkins signs he will likely be a WR1 or at worst a high-end WR2 in fantasy. One team in particular opens the door for Hopkins to return to being the best receiver in fantasy. In the Venn diagram of teams who offer elite QB play and the chance to be the alpha WR, only one team falls in both circles; the Kansas City Chiefs.
Every other team besides the Chiefs has another WR that will at least command a significant portion of targets when the season is done. Hopkins and Stefon Diggs in Buffalo certainly could coexist. Same with a potential Hopkins and Jefferson pairing in Minnesota. JaMarr Chase and Chase Higgins are making it work just great in Cincinnati. Who would Hopkins’ competition be in Kansas City? After Kelce, the top pass catchers in KC are Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, and Justin Watson. If it weren’t for Patrick Mahomes, we may be looking at that receiver core as the worst in football. Hopkins immediately becomes WR1 in KC the moment he puts pen to paper if he were to sign there.
As we’ve seen with Tyreek Hill, Kelce and a top-flight WR can coexist and both can have elite fantasy seasons. I’m not concerned with where Hopkins signs. Anywhere he goes he’ll be a great addition to your fantasy roster. With the exception of one team, it does not matter where DeAndre Hopkins signs. Wherever Hopkins goes, production will follow him. If he lands in Kansas City, however, he might climb a few rungs on my draft board.
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— Lisa Ann (@thereallisaann) May 6, 2023