A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, Cardinals' Fantasy Outlook After DeAndre Hopkins' Injury

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) runs a pass route during a NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson)
AP Photo/Matt Patterson

DeAndre Hopkins' regular season has reportedly come to an end, leaving the Arizona Cardinals without one of the top receivers in the NFL. 

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter and Jeremy Fowler, Hopkins is dealing with a sprained knee that is expected to keep him out for the rest of the regular season, but the Cardinals are "hopeful" he can return at some point in the playoffs. 

Schefter added Hopkins is getting a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache to determine if he will need surgery. 

Hopkins' status for the remainder of the regular season is the biggest part of the story from a fantasy perspective, especially with the postseason schedule starting this week.

Quarterback Kyler Murray has been exciting in his brief NFL career, especially in fantasy terms, but losing his top receiver will certainly set him back.

Hopkins' best skill on the field is winning one-on-one battles in the air, getting to balls that virtually no one else in the league can. As good as Murray is, losing this type of weapon could be a problem, especially in the red zone.

The third-year quarterback is staying in fantasy lineups regardless, but his upside takes a hit and he should be avoided in daily fantasy competitions. 

If there is any upside for fantasy managers with Hopkins on their roster, him not being available is a scenario they have already adjusted for. He missed three straight games from Week 9 to 11 due to a strained hamstring. 

In two games since returning, Hopkins wasn't much of a factor. The five-time Pro Bowler had seven catches for 86 yards and one touchdown combined. 

The injury does open things up for other pass-catchers on the roster, however, including Christian Kirk, A.J. Green and Rondale Moore.

Green and Kirk have been the more consistent weapons this season. Kirk has been the go-to wideout for Arizona's offense. He leads the team with 70 targets, 53 receptions and 718 receiving yards. 

Green has been the Cardinals' big-play receiver. The 33-year-old has 654 receiving yards and is averaging 15.6 yards per reception, his highest total in that category since he was a rookie in 2011 (16.3). 

Both players already had WR2 potential even with Hopkins available, but that will increase for the rest of the season. Green and Kirk are must-start options with a matchup against the Detroit Lions on Sunday. 

Moore, meanwhile, could be the most exciting option with his yards-after-catch ability. The Purdue alum hasn't created many big plays yet, but he ranks second on the team with 51 receptions. 

Losing Hopkins is going to create more opportunities for Moore to play in Arizona's three-receiver sets. He's an intriguing flex option depending on the right matchup, which the Lions are. 

Kirk is likely the safest bet of the three based on his production to this point, although all can post big numbers with Hopkins unavailable.