Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins suffered a torn MCL a few weeks ago. He was placed on the injured reserve in the middle of December. The Cardinals have been playing without Hopkins, although they’ve somewhat sputtered down the stretch. Will he play tonight against the Rams?
DeAndre Hopkins’ 2021 production
Hopkins struggled with injuries throughout the 2021 season, as he only played in 10 games. He saw mixed results, posting 42 receptions for 572 yards and 8 touchdowns on 64 targets.
Hopkins started the year with an outstanding game against the Tennessee Titans. He posted 6 receptions for 83 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 targets in Week 1. He followed that up with 4 receptions for 54 yards and 1 touchdown on only 4 targets against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 2.
Hopkins struggled overall, though, as he failed to record 100+ yards in any game this year. Hopkins saw 13 targets prior to his injury in Week 14, but he turned those into only 5 receptions for 54 yards.
How will his absence affect the Cardinals’ offense?
The Cardinals have been without Hopkins since Week 15 against the Detroit Lions. Christian Kirk will continue to work as the top receiving option for Arizona, as he’s seen 9+ targets in three of his last four games.
A.J. Green, Rondale Moore, and Antoine Wesley will also see increased roles in the offense as well. Green and Wesley are more traditional options, while Moore will likely see a few designed plays along with his normal workload.
Arguably the biggest beneficiary of Hopkins’ absence will be Zach Ertz. The veteran tight end has been playing at an extremely high level. In his last four games without Hopkins, he averaged 7 receptions for 63.3 yards on 10.8 targets per game. Still, he wasn’t able to score over that span.
James Conner and Chase Edmonds could also see a few more targets out of the backfield as well.
Will Hopkins play vs. the Rams this week?
Hopkins tore his MCL in mid-December, and he was placed on the injured reserve. There wasn’t a clear timetable for his return, as it was set anywhere from six weeks to four months. There were plenty of concerns that he would miss the entire postseason.
The reports have changed, though, as many are now suggesting that Hopkins could return if Arizona reaches the NFC Championship Game. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Hopkins could return for the championship game, but anything before that is “unrealistic.”
Most are suggesting that the best-case scenario for Hopkins would be that he returns to limited snaps at some point in the postseason. He won’t make his return against Los Angeles this week, though.
Are fantasy points available vs. Los Angeles?
There are fantasy points available to both wide receivers and tight ends against Los Angeles. The Rams are giving up 23.2 and 7.2 fantasy points per game to receivers and tight ends, ranking 11th and 16th in the NFL, respectively.
With Hopkins out, Ertz and Kirk are the two biggest beneficiaries, and they will make for great fantasy options in the playoffs.