With every offseason comes the frenzy of making moves to acquire aging vets to propel a playoff run or seeking up-and-coming studs ready to take that next step to stardom. Everyone is looking to trade for a new asset to boost their team. While I’m all for getting your guy, there are a few names I am actively avoiding. This article will dive into a couple of the wide receivers I will gladly let other managers roster.
DeAndre Hopkins (WR-ARZ)
After a disappointing season playing in just ten games, DeAndre Hopkins hurt many fantasy football managers. He now enters his 10th season in the league at 30 years old. With father time stopping for no one, I am unwilling to roll the dice on what Hopkins may or may not be. Hopkins was on pace for 109 targets, 71 catches, and 972 yards, not including touchdowns. That’s a significant drop-off from what we’ve been used to seeing from him. Hopkins finished with 115 receptions for 1,407 yards on 160 targets just a season ago. Is Hopkins hitting the dreaded cliff?
The Cardinals’ passing attack appears to be more spread out. Of the top 24 PPR scoring wide receivers in 2021, 19 had at least 22.8% target share. Hopkins owned just a 20.1% target share. Meanwhile, teammates Christian Kirk and Zach Ertz sported an 18.1% and a 19.3% target share, respectively. While Kirk is now gone, Ertz and AJ Green are both returning, running back James Conner proved he is more than capable of catching passes, and second-year player Rondale Moore is still lurking. On top of this, there is a genuine chance the Cardinals will add a receiver in the upcoming draft.
With this possible new approach to spreading the ball, Hopkins will need to cash in on touchdowns. Unless he’s got the GOAT throwing at him, this is not a bet I’m willing to take. Last season, Conner scored 12 rushing touchdowns from inside the 10, which is a significant threat to Hopkins’ scoring opportunities. An apparent decrease in opportunity paired with age presents some unknowns. Was last year’s injury just unlucky? Or is this the beginning of the end for an eleven top-tier talent? Time will tell, but for now, he sits atop my list of wide receivers to avoid.
Christian Kirk (WR–JAX)
Cashing in this offseason with a four-year, $72 million deal, Christian Kirk has caught the attention of many fantasy football players. While that contract suggests he will be a top target and coming off a season in which he set career highs in receptions and yards, I am still skeptical.
Finishing the season as a high-end WR3, I don’t think there will be too much room for growth. Last season was the ideal situation for Kirk. He was on a fast-paced offense that ranked 10th in passing yards. Furthermore, star receiver Hopkins missed nearly half of the season, which opened the door for Kirk to step up.
|With Hopkins (10 Games)||Without Hopkins (7 Games)|
As the above chart shows, Kirk saw an uptick in targets, receptions, yards, and fantasy points per game in the absence of Hopkins. Now I know some of you are thinking he is on a new team without Hopkins. Shouldn’t this benefit him? Truthfully, I think the split is more indicative that this past season was a bit of an outlier, or perhaps the ceiling for Kirk.
Historically, wide receivers struggle in their first year with a new team. Whether it’s the lack of chemistry with the quarterback or a new playbook, I typically avoid those situations. Additionally, his new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars, is problematic. The Jaguar offense ranked dead last in passing touchdowns and 22na in passing yards with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. I know there is a new coaching regime, and Lawrence will now have some experience under his belt. However, he would need to take a massive leap in his second season to persuade me into wanting Kirk. I don’t see it happening.
In Doug Pederson’s five seasons as head coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, only twice were they inside the top 15 in scoring. Just one time, they ranked inside the top 10 in yards. My point is, I don’t think it is realistic to expect Pederson to come in and Lawrence to take that Josh Allen level step. For Kirk to hit, he needs to be in a top offense. If you roster Kirk, I suggest selling him while his stock of him is near its highest. An early second would get it done for me.
Honorable Mentions: Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET) (at cost), Amari Cooper (WR – CLE) (new team), and Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA) (new QB).
While the receiver landscape in dynasty leagues is looking fruitful, some with too many uncertainties carry a higher risk. Whether it is the age factor, injury history, playing for a new team, or simply being too expensive to acquire, these are the few wide receivers that I will be avoiding.
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