One of the first pieces of news we received earlier this week was a surprising one. Austin Hooper had been linked most heavily to the Green Bay Packers, but the Cleveland Browns swooped in and landed the highly-sought-after tight end. How does this Austin Hooper free agency news impact your fantasy football leagues? Justin and Cody give their redraft and dynasty thoughts here.
The former Atlanta Falcon made the switch from the NFC to the AFC taking his talents to Cleveland. Hooper signed a four-year deal with $23 million in guarantees that on paper boosts the Browns offense significantly. Hooper has been a mainstay for fantasy production as a tight end for the last two years. He has ranked 6th in back-to-back seasons combining for 146 receptions, 1,437 yards, and 10 touchdowns.
Hooper isn’t taking much of a hit offensively with the move. The Browns who ranked 17th based on PFF grade were only two spots behind the Falcons. However, the Browns only targeted the position 67 times out of 534 attempts, good for just 12.5% of the target share. Hooper is better than the current crop of tight ends in Cleveland, but the lack of targets should scare you, even if it’s just a bit.
Hooper is the 6th tight end taken in early mocks in the 6th round. He should give a boost to Baker Mayfield as he’ll have the underneath security blanket he has yet to have in his career.
According to DLF’s latest ADP data, Hooper has an ADP of 77, placing him in the mid 7th-round, as the sixth tight end off the board. I’m hesitant with this landing spot, but there are two positive takeaways for Hooper in Cleveland. First, with Kevin Stefanski taking over as head coach, we should see a bump in tight end target share from what Justin noted last year. With the Vikings, tight ends were targeted on 22.5% of their passing attempts, split between Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr., and Tyler Conklin. Also, if we want to believe in rational coaching (we probably shouldn’t), we have to assume Hooper will be featured after the contract he was given. Still just 25, Hooper has yet to hit the age apex for what’s considered for prime production years for tight ends.
With targets to go around for Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb, I’m not so sure Hooper approaches his 92.5 target average he’s seen the past two seasons. In April’s dynasty ADP, I’m betting we see at least Noah Fant (81.83 ADP, TE8) pass him on draft boards and possibly Hunter Henry (81.5 ADP, TE7) depending on where he lands.
I’m most interested in David Njoku out of all this. His ADP has plummeted in just a year’s time, from 67.83 in 2019 to 150.67 now. He’s coming off boards as TE18 and the Austin Hooper signing will just push him down further. I would be targeting Njoku right away while his value is depressed and before he potentially gets traded to a better situation. The dude is still an athletic freak, has the collegiate production profile to pair with it, and will only be turning 24 in July.
We’ll be putting these reaction pieces out as news continues to come in, so keep checking back to our homepage for our latest content!