Austin Hooper caught 46-of-70 targets for 435 yards (9.5 Y/R) and four touchdowns in 13 games in his first season with the Browns, finishing as TE20 in half-PPR points per game. Despite his middling numbers, Hooper’s volume stats point towards a better season in 2021. Hooper posted a 19.02% target share last year, which ranked seventh among tight ends, behind Darren Waller, Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Evan Engram, and Logan Thomas. This is a player who is only one year removed from a season where he put up 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games with the Falcons, finishing as TE3 and earning himself a lucrative contract with the Browns. While David Njoku and Harrison Bryant are good tight ends, Hooper is still the man in Cleveland. He has Top-10 upside at tight end.
Similar to the other pass-catchers, Hooper’s fantasy downside lies within the offensive philosophy of the Browns. If they’re too run-heavy, there will be less volume for Hooper, which is bad news because he needs a high volume in order to sustain fantasy value, since he isn’t a big-play tight end. We also need to consider the tight end depth on this team. David Njoku and Harrison Bryant are both capable of commanding some targets, which would be bad news for Hooper. Having said that, Hooper is the fifth-highest paid tight end in the NFL, so there’s a good chance that he’ll retain his role.
2021 Bottom Line
Hooper is simply way too underpriced at this stage of the offseason. He’s currently being drafted as TE24 (186.6 ADP), behind the likes of Blake Jarwin and Anthony Firkser. Hooper has a much better track record, so you need to capitalize on the buying opportunity presented by the presence of players like Njoku and Bryant. Hooper looks like the best value on this Browns offense. He’s one of the few tight ends in this range who have a Top-10 season within their range of outcomes.