What DeAndre Hopkins Suspension Does to His Fantasy Value

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Drafting a player guaranteed to miss half of your fantasy season is risky

When news broke that Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins would be suspended for the first six games of the 2022 NFL season, two audible groans resonated throughout the country.

The first and loudest was centered around the Phoenix area, as Cardinal fans took the gut punch of knowing their best wideout would not be available until 11 days before Halloween. Scary stuff.

The second, more muted but more widespread, was from fantasy football managers in dynasty or keeper leagues who now had a very real decision about whether to drop one of the most talented and productive WR in the NFL. But even if you just play in a standard league that puts everyone back in the pool each year, a tough choice looms.

Where can you trust drafting DeAndre Hopkins this season?

Right now, most fantasy drafts are still more than a month away, so that a lot can change. What won’t change is that Hopkins is missing about half your season. That reality is baked into where most sites are ranking him.

CBS Sports is a bit bearish, sandwiching Hopkins between Marvin Jones and James Washington in their WR rankings and placing him 143rd overall in standard drafts. That would mean, in a 12-team league, you can expect to see Hopkins come off the board near the end of Round 12.

That seems low to me because when Hopkins returns, he should still produce like a low-end WR1 at worst. So I would feel comfortable drafting him as my WR3 and then throwing some darts later, hoping to hit on someone to fill that WR3 spot until Week 7.

Auction draft considerations

The math here isn’t as simple as taking what you would typically be comfortable spending and just cutting it in half. Instead, you need to figure out the difference in value between just taking Hopkins off your board and targeting someone else- or getting Hopkins at a discount but then having to spend money (and a roster spot) on another viable option for the first six weeks.

For example, let’s say Hopkins would normally go for $30 in your league. It’s not as simple as saying, “well, now he’s worth $15.” What you need to figure out is what will bring your a better return- using that $30 on a guy like CeeDee Lamb to be your WR1 all year, or splitting that money up and going after someone with upside like Darnell Mooney and then seeing what you can get Hopkins for later.

It’s risky, but if you hit on Mooney, you will be sitting pretty over the second half of your season.

You might not have a choice with DeAndre Hopkins.

If you play in a league with shallow rosters, it can be nearly impossible to stash a player for almost two months. Bye weeks already cause issues, and some of your guys will get hurt. In leagues where you need all hands on deck, there is one strategy that might give you an advantage.

Try to avoid players with byes during Weeks 5 and 6. That way, while other teams are using the waiver wire to fill out their starting lineup, you can use it to add Hopkins and stash him for two weeks.

If you play your cards (pun intended) right, the Hopkins suspension can be overcome. And with a fully loaded team come playoff time, the other teams in your league might be groaning.

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