When DeAndre Hopkins was released from the Cardinals on May 26, he said the things he wanted in a new team were stable management, a quarterback who loves the game and a great defense. He probably also wanted to get paid. It seems like Hopkins checked all of his boxes with the Titans.
According to multiple reports on Sunday, Hopkins will sign in Tennessee this week. He's reportedly getting a two-year deal worth $26 million, with another $6 million available in incentives.
While Hopkins is probably happy with his new scenario -- he was reportedly deciding between the Titans and Patriots -- this isn't the best situation for his Fantasy value. Hopkins should only be considered a low-end No. 2 receiver in the majority of leagues, and the earliest you should draft him is Round 5.
Hopkins did well last season with the Cardinals when he caught 64 passes for 717 yards and three touchdowns on 96 targets in nine games. He averaged 16.8 PPR points per game, which was No. 9 among receivers. He's been among the best receivers in the NFL when healthy and active for the majority of his career in Houston and Arizona.
Since his third-year breakout campaign in 2015 with the Texans, Hopkins only has two seasons averaging fewer than 16.8 PPR points per game, including three years with at least 20.6 PPR points per game over that span. But can he do that again in Tennessee?
Hopkins is 31 now, and receivers past the age of 30 don't have the best track record. In the past 10 years, only 17 receivers at 30 or older have averaged at least 15.0 PPR points per game. And only three over that span -- Brandon Marshall in 2015 at age 31 (21.2 PPR points per game), Jordy Nelson in 2016 at 31 (19.0) and Antonio Brown in 2018 at 30 (21.6) -- have been elite.
The Titans also aren't going to have the most dynamic passing attack. In the past three seasons, Tennessee has ranked No. 30 twice (2020 and 2022) and No. 25 (2021) in pass attempts. The leader in targets for the Titans over that span was A.J. Brown in 2020 with 106, Brown in 2021 with 105 and Robert Woods in 2022 with 91. Although, in 2021, Brown was limited to 13 games, but he was on pace for 137 targets.
Since 2015, Hopkins has never had fewer than 150 targets when he's played at least 15 games. He's also averaged at least 10 targets per game in two of three seasons with the Cardinals.
While Hopkins is probably right to say that Tannehill is a quarterback who loves the game -- I don't know this for sure, but I would assume that it's true -- we have to hope that Tannehill can keep Hopkins happy with enough volume and success. The best receiver Tannehill had with the Titans was Brown, but that was early in his career.
As a rookie in 2019, Brown averaged 13.6 PPR points per game. He increased that total to 17.2 PPR points per game in 2020, but he dropped back down to 13.9 PPR points per game in 2021. Brown had two seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns over that span, but he never topped 70 receptions. However, again, in 2021 he was on pace for 82 catches.
It's not fair to compare Brown at the beginning of his career to Hopkins now, but hopefully Hopkins and Tannehill can develop a solid rapport. You also have to worry that if Tannehill struggles or the Titans aren't winning games then Mike Vrabel may turn to rookie quarterback Will Levis. And that scenario makes me even more concerned for Hopkins.
I'm not completely out on drafting Hopkins this season, but the price has to be right, which is Round 5 at the earliest, as stated above. I think Tannehill can support Hopkins enough to make him a No. 2 Fantasy receiver, and I like that Hopkins has a history with new Titans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly. In 2019, when Kelly was calling plays for the Texans, Hopkins had 104 receptions for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns on 150 targets. He averaged 17.9 PPR points per game that year.
But I'm not confident Hopkins can still be an elite Fantasy receiver unless Tennessee changes its offense completely. The volume won't be there for Hopkins with enough targets, and I don't like the track record for receivers his age.
As for the rest of the Titans offense, getting Hopkins is clearly a boost for Tannehill. If he can remain the starter for the entire season, he should be worth starting in Superflex and two-quarterback leagues. And let's keep in mind that in two of three seasons with Brown (2019 and 2020), Tannehill averaged at least 22.3 Fantasy points per game. He could be a nice surprise if Hopkins has a big year.
The addition of Hopkins is a crushing blow for Treylon Burks and Chigoziem Okonkwo. Both were expected to see a boost in targets this season, but both now fall down the pecking order in the passing game behind Hopkins. And again, based on the expectation for this low-volume passing attack, the lack of targets will hurt each of their Fantasy outlooks.
Burks was someone I was drafting as a breakout receiver as early as Round 6 prior to Sunday's news. Now, the earliest I would draft him is Round 9 as a No. 4 Fantasy receiver. He should still have the chance to make plays, but his upside is clearly limited.
The hope would be Burks can perform like Corey Davis did for the Titans in 2020. Playing as the sidekick to Brown, Davis had 65 catches for 984 yards and five touchdowns on 92 targets, and I would love that from Burks this year. Davis averaged 13.6 PPR points per game that season.
Okonkwo was one of my favorite breakout tight ends prior to Sunday, but that designation will change. I'll still take a flier on Okonkwo with a late-round pick, but I won't draft him as a starter.
The best tight end Tannehill had during his tenure with the Titans was Jonnu Smith, and his best season was 2020 with 41 catches, 448 yards and eight touchdowns on 65 targets. Smith averaged 9.3 PPR points per game that season. I can see Okonkwo getting a similar amount of targets, catches and yards, but it's hard to expect eight touchdowns, which is what boosted Smith's value that season.
As for Derrick Henry, I'm not sure the addition of Hopkins changes much. The Titans will now have a better passing game, which should decrease the likelihood of defenses stacking the line of scrimmage, but Henry still has the same pros and cons.
He was always going to dominate touches, and he should still be an elite Fantasy option when healthy. But I'm still concerned about his offensive line (Pro Football Focus has it ranked last coming into the season), his age (29) and wear and tear (over 380 total touches in two of the past three seasons). As a result, the earliest I would draft Henry is the middle of Round 2.
We'll see how the Titans offense looks in 2023 with the addition of Hopkins. It's an excellent move for the team, but I'm not sure this is the best place for Hopkins to remain a standout Fantasy receiver.