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Who Won The DeAndre Hopkins-David Johnson Deal? (it's not as cut and dried as you think)

March 16, 2020 7:16 PM
March 16, 2020 7:15 PM

Well, I didn’t expect this…I didn’t even have the Texans on my top 10 landing spots for the obvious, preseason David Johnson trade that had to happen.

It’s nice that the NFL is finally starting to make more offseason trades of note…and we needed this, it’s been a nice (for a football/fantasy fan) distraction away from the Coronavirus talk today.

I thought the Texans would just re-sign Carlos Hyde and run him in a tandem with Duke Johnson, again this season. I guess not. I also thought DeAndre Hopkins would be a Texan for life. I also assumed toilet paper supply would never really be an issue in 2020. What do I know anyway?

The reaction to the trade has been comical – everyone in the football media, and thus the fans, are so into DeAndre Hopkins and so not-into David Johnson that this trade seems like the worst of all-time.

Can I just say the following, as an opening salvo…

Everyone was SO hysterical about the Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown trades last preseason. Non-stop chatter on how the Giants (OBJ) and the Steelers (Antonio) got fleeced/gave away the farm -- how could these teams give up such great weapons, most analysts thought. In hindsight, everyone who thought that is a complete idiot (just judging their ability to judge trades). The biggest idiots, in hindsight, were the GMs/teams acquiring said ‘star’ wide receivers.

So, before everyone gets up in arms because the media and other football players are up in arms about this trade – just note that their track record of reacting to star wide receiver trades has been abysmal.

What do I think about this deal…David Johnson expert that I am…rational football thinker that I am? I’m going to go through the NFL ramifications here, and the fantasy ramifications on our Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball (DOBB) subscriber area.

We start with -- judging the deal from an NFL standpoint…

David Johnson and the #40 overall pick and a 2021 4th-round pick


DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 4th-round pick

Something to keep in mind – a #40 overall draft pick is a bar of gold asset. In some senses, you’d rather have the #40 pick from a team than a #10…from a money/slotting/contract structure standpoint and you’d be fine from a player to take standpoint. Fans think a #10 is better than #40 mostly on the merits of basic math but more so due to the name familiarity of the (supposed) top 10 prospects…and they are only going by media loved/promoted prospects, so their perspective is warped (there’s a reason why draft day one ratings are exponentially higher than day two).

For the contractual price over the four years of deals on the #10 overall pick/player vs. the #40, and what prospects are still available…if I were a GM, I’d take the #40 pick over wanting the #10 (sure, I’d take the #10 in a deal, if given the choice, but just to trade it. But just judging #10 vs. #40 to make a pick and stick with the player/contract, as a GM building a team…I’ll take #40).

So, think of the Arizona #40 pick going to Houston as having the value of a ‘1st-round pick’ (which just sounds better). This is a key component to interpreting this deal…evaluating that draft pick properly.

Before we get to the David Johnson part of this… Would you take a 1st-round pick (per my instructions above) for DeAndre Hopkins straight up?

Would you do that if you…

(a) Were having sideline/locker room/behind-the-scenes issues with Hopkins (as I believe is real), and…

(b) If you knew Hopkins was getting ready to hold out for/demand a huge contract extension (he has no guaranteed money left…he wants his last, best big deal NOW…and he should), and…

(c) If you were reading the NFL marketplace properly…and seeing that the wide receiver economy is inflated, saturated and that big wide receiver deals are unwise reading the market future?

Is now the perfect time to deal Hopkins away at peak value…like something Bill Belichick would do? Everyone was hysterical when Houston traded Jadeveon Clowney, but a lot of the same logic applied…and the Texans were just fine without him.

With all that said…I think this is the perfect time to trade DeAndre Hopkins. I have no problem dealing him and replacing him…especially considering the sideline/locker room concerns. That was the first sign Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham were about to blow up in people’s faces – diva-ish ways.

Either Bill O’Brien is a total idiot, trading one of the best wide receivers in the league away – or he knows something deeper that we don’t know. The same ‘something’ you didn’t fully know/appreciate when you went nuts because of the Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown 2019 trades (and trades you wouldn’t make today if you were the GM of Cleveland or Oakland).

It’s a bold move, and I respect O’Brien for it. But did he make a good deal in exchange?

That part is questionable – only because I think he could’ve traded Hopkins for a lot more in draft picks, and that’s the way I would have gone – gimme some more twos and threes and you keep your David Johnson and I’ll sign Carlos Hyde for a quarter of the price.

It’s not impossible that Houston will turnaround and trade David Johnson either. Maybe they get a 2nd-rounder from Tampa Bay for him (just spitballing). If they ultimately (by flipping DJ to TB) got a #40 (ARI) and #45 (TB) for Hopkins, and maneuvered away from his issues/cost…that’s the way you quietly build dynasties.   

I can only judge the deal on what it was…with DJ in it, so I would say that O’Brien was smart/fine to move Hopkins, but I think he left money/assets to acquire on the table taking David Johnson (and I am a huge DJ guy).

I mean, I think O’Brien could’ve gotten more if he were really being sharky – like they could’ve gotten Andy Isabella thrown into this deal. They could’ve gotten multiple picks/players for Hopkins from some team had they held a league-wide auction of DeAndre. My negative on this deal for Houston would be – please, feel free to trade Hopkins…but you left money on the table, is my hunch.

As far as Arizona goes…they got Hopkins relatively inexpensive, so that’s nice – but if Hopkins is then signed to a mega-deal and gets even more flaky/diva-ish, they will live to regret it. Arizona needs O-Line and a defensive help in droves…and they just traded away a key draft pick (#40) for something that shouldn’t matter as much to this Air Raid offense…a wide receiver. I thought this offense was supposed to spring all kinds of receivers open…why do you need to stock it with expensive wide receivers? Fitz-Kirk-Hopkins and higher draft picks on Isabella and Hakeem Butler. I’m pretty sure building a team around wide receivers is total NFL fool’s gold. Fans think it’s cool, though.

A kinda-sorta swap of Kenyan Drake IN and David Johnson OUT…Arizona does not win that or better themselves, operationally, either…if Johnson is healthy. The real judgement of the ‘winner’ of this deal is what you think David Johnson is worth and what DJ does, performance-wise, in 2020.

Remember…David Johnson is a mega-talent in his own right, or at least he was a couple years ago. What changes since his surreal 2016 season was that he broke his wrist (2017) and he hurt his ankle, rushed back, wasn’t right and then got replaced for it (2019)

If Hopkins and Johnson both played their best football in 2020 – ignoring contract, age, etc., just looking at football – David Johnson would be more important to operations than DeAndre Hopkins, or at a minimum…they would both be equally excellent to have. The deal would then be two good players swapped, and Houston got a #40 pick as well…if that’s the end result in 2020, then you’d have to say Houston WON the deal.

If DJ gets hurt, again, and Hopkins has his typical great season in 2020…then judging this trade will be Hopkins vs. whatever Houston picks at #40. Arizona probably WINS the deal, but not the slam dunk/steal the media is making it out to be. Don’t forget, the Texans could then cut Johnson cheap in 2021, make him a free agent and get a 3rd/4th-round compensation pick…that’s a factor too.

I don’t think this deal is as bad for Houston as they make it out to be. Arizona might get the WIN but it’s not as much of a steal as we’re being told it is. Houston has a chance to be the bigger WINNER if they make a great pick at #40 and if DJ goes back to normal…and Houston an even bigger WINNER if Hopkins starts to really flake out or mail it in or has a weaker impact than expected like Odell Beckham-to-Cleveland.

In the end, if we’re looking back 2-3-4 years from now…I think Houston has more chances to WIN the deal critique in the end, but looking at it today – I think the Texans could’ve gotten more for a Hopkins deal (with Arizona or another team), so it’s a some positive, some negative in critiquing Houston’s deal. Arizona gets a top player at his position, so they shouldn’t lose this deal by much if they do…but if they overpay Hopkins and then DeAndre starts to become ‘good’ in a sea of ‘good’ NFL WRs…then Houston will have the last laugh.

Who are the winners and losers on the fantasy front? I will publish that in our Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball (DOBB) area ASAP.



2020 Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball Subscriptions Now Available

It’s time for season #2 of our last season’s debut subscription…Dynasty Offseason/Best Ball.

I created Dynasty offseason as a way to communicate rankings/valuations on (500+) existing players (and also 400+ IDPs) for Dynasty and Keeper planning purposes (trades, etc.) as well as getting the jump on Best Ball/MFL drafts that begin in February and run all the rest of the year.

The fastest growing success percentage/money earning with FFM scouting/rankings/etc. is in those Best Ball/MFLs – draft a deep roster and forget it until the season begins, and then just watch the results…no lineup settings, no trading. Just pay to compete, out-draft everyone else, and try and cash in on our early/better read on things.

Dynasty Offseason subscriptions will be available when College Football Metrics begins (1/3/20), and you can purchase as a combo or just individually the one you want/need. However, the Dynasty Offseason rankings, etc., will not kickoff until right after the Super Bowl (articles and reports will post in January but player rankings/mock drafts not until past the Super Bowl)…and then we pile in material daily/weekly until opening day of the new NFL season.

If you were not a part of the Dynasty Offseason program last year, I will have more details on it on my playoff game recaps in 2020 and some additional explanation on Best Ball/MFL leagues, how to get started in them, how they work, etc. – if you’re not doing Best Ball/MFLs…you are missing out.


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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

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