The rumors circulated for a few weeks and then quickly became news: DeAndre Hopkins is now a member of the Tennessee Titans. There was early speculation that Hopkins could land with Kansas City, Buffalo, or Dallas as he linked up with a contender for a ring chase. Hopkins ends his free agent journey not on a Super Bowl contender. Instead, he chose a team that is somewhat in between paths.
The New Look Offense
Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry return as remnants from a franchise that won back-to-back AFC South championships and combined for 23 regular season wins in 2020 and 2021 before falling to 7-10 last season. The additions of Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo last year, combined with Peter Skoronski, Will Levis, and Tyjae Spears this past draft, looked like a changing of the guard on the offensive side of the ball. Still, the addition of Hopkins should dispel any notion of a rebuild. The Titans want to win the AFC South and have playoff aspirations. The 31-year-old Hopkins joins 34-year-old Tannehill and 29-year-old Henry. Together, they form one of the NFL’s oldest QB/RB/WR1 combinations.
Hopkins’ three-year run in Arizona ended unceremoniously as Arizona cut him this past offseason. His on-field play remained strong in the desert. He never averaged less than 14.7 PPG in any season as a Cardinal, including 16.9 this past year. Hopkins averaged 9.6 targets per game, despite missing six games to start the season due to a suspension. That may be a lot for a Tennessee offense that remains run first, but I expect him to challenge for 130+ targets. He is an alpha with six seasons of 150+ targets. Despite any concerns about Tennessee’s offense, Hopkins should be a strong WR2. His 14.7 PPG in 2021 sounds about right.
Winners and Losers
Henry is another winner. He gets older and stays the same yearly: one of the league’s true bell cows. He finished second in rushing yards and was first in carries. Henry added 13 TDs and finished fourth among all RBs with 18.9 PPG. There will be a point where the touches start to slow Henry down, but at this point he is one of the NFL’s premier backs. With the addition of Hopkins, The Titans’ offense will be even more efficient and productive, giving Henry more high-value touches and opportunities. His cost of RB8 seems low, and he is a solid value at the end of Round 2.
Backup RB Tyjae Spears is a slight loser with this signing. The notion of Spears being a handcuff plus probably goes out the window. He is still a strong pick as a handcuff, but there is now a touches and targets squeeze in Tennessee, and he will feel it.
The biggest losers are Treylon Burks and Okonkwo. I have been very bullish on both, but now it is time to manage expectations. Burks should see his ADP take a slight dip. Burks is currently being selected as WR31 in FFPC Main Events with a sixth-round ADP. He should now fall into the late seventh. He is talented, but the chances of a 25 percent target share are out the window.
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Burks and Okonkwo
Burks can be a very efficient player with a contingent upside. If Henry or Hopkins miss time, he would be more heavily utilized. There hasn’t been a No. 2 target in the Tannehill era has seen more than 92 targets. For Burks to break, 110 targets would mean an offensive philosophy change. In dynasty, it is worth buying low if anyone is selling. A year from now, the Titans’ offense could look far different, and Burks is still the same player as he was yesterday. The unfortunate truth for Burks believers is we need to manage expectations for 2023.
Okonkwo had steamed up to TE11 overall. A metrics darling during his rookie season, Okonkwo still has a path to finishing as a TE1, but it will have to be by scoring TDs rather than seeing an outsized target share. He should be treated as a high-end TE2 rather than a low-end TE1. Still, he is one of the more explosive young TEs in football, and if he falls enough, I would consider him at cost.
Will Tennessee beat expectations this season? It remains to be seen, but this Hopkins signing shows they are going for it. One year after trading away A.J. Brown, Tennessee now has a new Alpha WR1, albeit an older one. The Hopkins era in Tennessee will be fascinating, with many potential outcomes. Stick with PlayerProfiler for all of your off-season needs. We will have articles and podcasts covering all major player news and events. Dalvin Cook watch is still ongoing.