Cardinals’ Christian Kirk poised for bump

DeAndre Hopkins wasn’t the fantasy force we expected him to be this season, but he was still solid when he played — having averaged 14.7 PPR points per game. That put him just outside the top 20 wide receivers — good for a back-end WR2 or strong Flex option.

He is now out for the rest of the regular season with a knee injury. There is never a good time to lose a fantasy starter, but right before the playoffs start certainly ranks among the worst times.

Hopkins missed three games earlier this year, so hopefully anyone who had him on their roster figured out a solution during that span. But if not, or if you pieced it together week-by-week, or if you had to bail on the temporary fill-in to address another roster spot since his return, well, now you’re looking again.

Of the waiver options that were most widely available this week, our favorite was a fellow Cardinal — Christian Kirk. He actually leads the team in receptions — in large part because Hopkins missed time. Kirk’s 53 catches are two more than Rondale Moore.

Nevertheless, 22 or Moore’s have come in three games — the first two of the year and one 11-catch game in Week 11. In his other 10 games, he has averaged 2.9 receptions per game. Plus, Moore has just one touchdown and his yards per catch is pathetic — just 8.4, on par with a running back.

That type of minimal yardage and low TD yield don’t foretell a huge bump in use.

Perhaps they go to A.J. Green? Certainly, we expect Green to absorb a big chunk of red-zone targets — particularly corner, jump-ball routes. But Green isn’t as explosive as he once was, and his background of brittleness is worrisome.

Christian Kirk
Christian Kirk
Getty Images

Running back Chase Edmonds is expected back, but he will eat into James Conner’s work and perhaps infringe on Moore’s touches near the line of scrimmage, rather than inherit Hopkins targets.

That leaves us with Kirk. His yards per catch (13.5) is on par with Hopkins’ (13.6). He has six career TDs of 30 yards or more. He also had six from inside the 10-yard line, so he doesn’t disappear near the goal line.

Now, Kirk isn’t going to assume an automatic spot in our starting lineup. We’re not going to play him ahead of, say, Michael Pittman Jr., Hunter Renfrow, Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk or the like. But if our next-best option is, for example, Darnell Mooney, Michael Gallup, Jerry Jeudy, even Julio Jones, then we’ll take our chances with Kirk.

But wait. Did you think Kirk is the only one we think will see a bump? Nope, there is one other whose prospects we think will improve, though not as much as Kirk’s.

Tight end Zach Ertz could get some extra looks. Since his Week 7 debut in Arizona, he has averaged 5.4 targets per game, and that should tick up now.

So crank up some Kirk if you need, and go boldly where no one thought you would need to go before.

Big Weeks

Justin Fields QB, Bears, vs. Vikings (FanDuel $6,800/DraftKings $5,500)

Had a nice game last week against a difficult Packers defense. The Vikings should put up less resistance — having yielded at least three passing TDs in three of their past four games.

Myles Gaskin RB, Dolphins, vs. Jets (FD $6,600/DK $5,600)

Expected to clear COVID protocols and play Sunday. The Jets are the league’s worst against opposing fantasy RBs — allowing 12.1 PPR points more than the league average per week. If Gaskin doesn’t play, fire up Duke Johnson.

Donovan Peoples-Jones WR, Browns, vs. Raiders (N/A)

Delay until Monday could impact availability of some COVID cases. But even if Nick Mullens is the QB, we’re OK going with DJP in a pinch. Nick Chubb can’t be the entire offense.

DeVante Parker WR, Dolphins, vs. Jets (FD $5,800/DK $4,300)

Yeah, another Dolphin. Not as high on Miami passing game as ground game, but Gaskin can’t be the entire offense.

DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker

Small Weaks

Joe Burrow QB, Bengals, at Broncos (FD $7,300/DK $6,100)

He has topped 20 fantasy points just once in his past five games. Denver has allowed an opposing QB to top 20 just twice all season, and have limited QBs to one or fewer TD passes eight times.

Michael Carter RB, Jets, at Dolphins (FD $5,900/DK $4,700)

Expected back from an ankle injury, but we don’t like RBs in their first game back with lower-body injuries. Miami hasn’t allowed an RB rushing TD in six games.

Chuba Hubbard RB, Panthers, at Bills (FD $6,000/DK $5,700)

Not a great matchup vs. the Bills run defense. But worse, Carolina easily could fall behind. Playing catch-up with pass means more Ameer Abdullah and less Hubbard.

Marquise Brown WR, Ravens, vs. Packers (FD $6,700/DK $5,900)

Assuming he plays (illness), he hasn’t scored since Week 7, Lamar Jackson has been disappointing for the past month, and if he doesn’t play, you get Tyler Huntley under center.

Marquise Brown
Marquise Brown
Getty Images

Fantasy Insanity Daily Duel

Site: FanDuel
Slate: Sun. main (11 games)
Type: $9 tourney
Top prize: $20K
Pot: $100K

Drew’s Crew

QB — Tua Tagovailoa (Mia, vs. NYJ) $7,400
RB — Ezekiel Elliott (Dal, at NYG) $6,700
RB — James Robinson (Jac, vs. Hou) $6,300
WR — Davante Adams (GB, at Bal) $8,500
WR — Jerry Jeudy (Den, vs. Cin) $6,100
WR — Deebo Samuel (SF, vs. Atl) $8,200
TE — Mike Gesicki (Mia, vs. NYJ) $6,200
Flex — Cordarrelle Patterson (Atl, at SF) $7,000
DEF — Jaguars (Jac, vs. Hou) $3,600

Wilk’s Warriors

QB — Aaron Rodgers (GB, at Bal) $7,600
RB — D’Onta Foreman (Ten, at Pit) $5,800
RB — James Robinson (Jac, vs. Hou) $6,300
WR — Brandin Cooks (Hou, at Jac) $6,900
WR — Davante Adams (GB, at Bal) $8,500
WR — DeVante Parker (Mia, vs. NYJ) $5,800
TE — Mike Gesicki (Mia, vs. NYJ) $6,200
Flex — Deebo Samuel (SF, vs. Atl) $8,200
DEF — Cowboys (Dal, at NYG) $4,600

Season risked: $113
Season winnings: Jarad $40, Drew $15

Check @NYPost_Loftis and @NYPost_Roto for any lineup updates before Sunday kickoff.

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