The Cleveland Browns signed former Atlanta Falcons’ tight end Austin Hooper away on the first day of legal tampering. In order to fill that hole in the offense, the Falcons traded away a second-round and a fifth-round pick to the Ravens to get Hayden Hurst (and a fourth-round pick). What does this mean for the Browns? For the Falcons? For the Ravens? What does this mean for your 2020 fantasy football leagues?
The 25-year-old Austin Hooper had a mini-break out in 2018 and ascended to fantasy football elitehood in 2019. He’s increased his yardage in each of his first four seasons and is one of the better young players at the position in the league. Hooper finished 2019 as the TE6 while missing three games because he amassed 787 yards and six touchdowns. The Browns made Hooper the highest-paid tight end in NFL history, shortly after placing a second-round tender on Kareem Hunt. It tells me something: Kevin Stefanski wants to run a lot of two-TE and/or two-RB sets. Last year, the Vikings (under Stefanski) passed out of three-WR sets (meaning one TE & one RB) on just 18% of their pass plays. That was easily the lowest rate in the league.
Austin Hooper to Cleveland
This means big things for Baker Mayfield in 2020. He will have plenty of weapons around him. The weaponry starts with Hooper, Hunt, David Njoku, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Odell Beckham. Mayfield currently has a suppressed ADP thanks to his dreadful 2019, but expect him to catch helium and vault up to levels never before seen based solely on hype. That is if you exclude Baker Mayfield entering the 2019 NFL season.
As for Hooper, you already saw the mouths to feed in Cleveland. They are numerous. While the Browns brought him in as literally the highest paid TE in NFL history, I don’t expect him to become the focal point of the offense. There are too many short-range guys there, with too many mouths to feed. Landry is a short-range guy, the backs are as well. Throw Hooper in there and assume that Njoku doesn’t gum up the works, and you have too many bodies in too short an area. I would have to imagine that 2020 Austin Hooper peaks at his TE6 rank from last season, and likely settles in around TE8 or 9 when all is said or done. I’m not a big fan of this move for Hooper, but I do like what this did for Hayden Hurst.
Hayden Hurst to Atlanta
Hayden Hurst will quickly, and I mean… quickly become the hot trendy tight end sleeper for 2020 fantasy football drafts. Hurst is a first-round talent, and Austin Hooper had the fourth-most TE targets over the last two seasons. That means Hurst has the pedigree, and opportunity, to explode. The Falcons have also jettisoned their starting running backs in the last two seasons (though the odds they get one through the draft are flying through the roof). Mark Andrews rendered Hayden Hurst expendable, and I expect Hurst to breakthrough in Atlanta. He has a lot of Austin Hooper in him, but he was buried behind Mark Andrews.
As for Mark Andrews? He never topped 57% of the Ravens’ snaps in any game last year. That should go up, as should his fantasy football production in 2020.
If this article has you hankering for some fantasy sports, try out Fan Duel! That link lets them know we sent you! It also gets you $5 bonus cash to play with if you make a deposit.
(Header Image Source: https://www.playitusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Austin-Hooper-2019-Fantasy-Outlook-1280×720.jpg under CC BY-SA 4.0)