NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Austin Hooper on the Browns creates a target crunch
Austin Hooper undoubtedly makes the Browns offense better, but someone has to lose here.
Having too many weapons is never a problem for a quarterback. But it certainly can be a Fantasy problem for those weapons, and we're about to see that in Cleveland. That's because they're bringing in Austin Hooper and making him the highest paid tight end in NFL history.
Remember, this is a team that already had Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and David Njoku. They assigned a second round tender to Kareem Hunt, so he'll be in the mix as well. Added bonus (where/s the sarcasm font?): Their new head coach just ran one of the slowest offenses in the league that ran the ball more than he threw it.
My initial projections had the Browns throwing 519 passes. That's 15 fewer than Baker Mayfield threw in 2019 but 53 more than Kevin Stefanski called in Minnesota. Last year Beckham, Landry, Chubb and Hunt combined for 364 targets (and Hunt only played eight games). All of the tight ends combined for just 69. It's hard to see how Hooper gets anywhere close to the targets he's become accustom to without harming some other member of the offense. Last year he saw 93 targets in 13 games.
Now, my pass attempt projection could be low. It's well below league average for 2019. In fact, I bumped it to 529 as i was writing this piece. That's still not enough for everyone to coexist and for now it's going to require compromise from all parties. I dropped Beckham and Landry to a 25% target share and Hunt down to 15%. I crushed Njoku's usage, dropping him to 5%, which gave me enough room to put Austin Hooper at 15%.
The result? Beckham is a high-end No. 2 receiver, Landry is a mid-range No. 3. Chubb is a low-end No. 1 running back, Hunt is a borderline No. 2. Hooper? He's still a starting Fantasy tight end, but he's no longer an upper-echelon option. Here are my full projections for the Browns as of March 16.
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