As we gear up to the start of the NFL season, Football Absurdity is going to bring you a comprehensive breakdown of every notable player that will be available in fantasy football drafts. The Cleveland Browns pried Austin Hooper away from the Atlanta Falcons by promising him the richest tight end contract in NFL history. Now, David Njoku wants out. Has the hate gone too far on Austin Hooper in Cleveland for 2020?
Austin Hooper ADP and AAV:
Standard ADP: TE9, 92 overall
PPR ADP: TE13, 113 overall
Average Auction Value: $2
Austin Hooper Statistics:
Austin Hooper Overview:
Tight end might be the position in fantasy football that is most about reading tea leaves and trying to discern what a team might do with its targets. With Hooper in Cleveland, we have a new player on a new team with a new head coach, who was on a completely different team last year. It’s a crowded tight end room, with Hooper, David Njoku, and rookie Harrison Bryant. Rookie tight ends are rarely a thing, so we only have to worry about Njoku and Hooper stealing targets from each other.
Let’s first look at Austin Hooper on a per-target basis. Among guys with at least 100 targets over the last two seasons combined, Hooper ranks tenth in yards per target It’s worth noting that Head Coach Kevin Stefanski’s previous tight end, Kyle Rudolph, is just 0.12 yards per target behind Hooper over the last couple of seasons. Hooper also posted a milquetoast touchdown rate (5.41% of targets are touchdown, eleventh in the league). But… he’s #8 in fantasy points per route run and #9 in fantasy points per target. Why? He has the second-best tight end true catch rate (97.4%), which only measures catchable targets as part of a player’s target volume.
What’s all this say? Other than being a deluge of numbers, it means that Hooper’s best attributes were strong hands and lots of targets. Well, the hands aren’t going away, and Kevin Stefanski’s tight ends had 24% of the Vikings’ targets last season. Even if he splits that 50/50 with David Njoku, the Browns should throw enough to get him near one-hundred targets again. That might prove to be a steal at his price.
Austin Hooper Draft Strategy:
I double- and triple-checked Austin Hooper’s ADP. A guy best-known for catching a lot of low-yardage passes somehow goes four tight ends lower in PPR than in non-PPR scoring. Why? I don’t know, but I’m not going to argue with him as TE13 in a PPR league. He’s also going for exactly the price our auction impresario Evan Hoovler would recommend, so he’s great value there.
Hooper is part of the lottery group of tight ends, where you could put each face on a ping-pong ball, have a lottery machine spit them out in a random order, and I would believe that order as their season-ending finish. I’ll throw a buck or two at Hooper if I strikeout going after the guys I actively want in that tier. He’s a perfectly cromulent fallback option and one that you could possibly get for $1 if you catch your league mates napping at your auction draft.
In snake drafts, I’m not going after Hooper and is only a fallback option for me if TEs fly off the board before I am comfortable taking most of them.
Best Case Scenario:
He gets his continued target volume and boosts his efficiency, turning in a top-five tight end season.
Worst Case Scenario:
He loses his target volume and keeps his bad efficiency, turning in an outside-the-top-fifteen tight end season.