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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: DeAndre Hopkins No. 12

DeAndre Hopkins comes in at 12 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Arizona Cardinals v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

DeAndre Hopkins has the distinction of being one the best wide receivers in fantasy football since coming into the league in 2013. The 29-year-old is entering his second season with the Arizona Cardinals, where’s he formed an instant connection with quarterback Kyler Murray. Hopkins and the Cardinals will be looking to put up even more points this season, and he’ll once again be one of the most attractive options in the earliest rounds of fantasy drafts.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 12, DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals, WR

Last year Hopkins posted 1,407 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 115 catches. That was his highest yardage total since 2018 and the third-best total of his career. There were some questions about how well he’d connect with Kyler Murray. Whatever doubts there may have been, Nuk put those to rest with a 14-catch, 150-yard performance in his debut with the team. He’ll be a centerpiece in this offense again this season.

Competition for touches

There wasn’t much competition for touches last season. Hopkins had 160 targets, doubling the next highest total on the team (Christian Kirk at 79). The Cardinals brought in veteran receiver A.J. Green this year, but Green’s recent struggles to stay healthy make it questionable just how much he’ll be able to contribute. Christian Kirk and Rondale Moore, a rookie second-round pick, are competing for the third receiver spot, but neither player is likely to impact Hopkins’ overall workload.

Team offensive expectations

The Cardinals offense struggled down the stretch last season, failing to score more than 25 points in four of their last seven games. Worse, they threw for less than 200 yards in three of their last six. The pressure is on third-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who came from the college ranks with a reputation for fast-paced, high-scoring offenses, to put up more points throughout the whole season.

What’s his upside?

The sky’s the limit for Hopkins. He’s posted more than 1,500 yards twice in his career, and could do it again. His six touchdowns last season were a bit underwhelming for what he’s capable of doing. A more aggressive offense could take some pressure off Hopkins and help him score double digit touchdowns. He’s going to catch more than enough passes to have big upside in PPR leagues too, even if the rest of his numbers in a given week are down.

What’s his downside?

It’s easy for defenses to key in on Hopkins, especially if the rest of the receivers aren’t contributing. Murray’s incredible dual-threat ability means that he’s going to score plenty—his 11 rushing scores led the team in touchdowns last year—taking away scoring opportunities for Hopkins. But he’s just so hard to stop, it’s more reasonable to expect an occasional bad game, something every receiver has to deal with, than it is to be disappointed in his overall production.

Projection

110 receptions; 1,350 receiving yards; 9 touchdowns