Hello Fantasy Faithfuls, and welcome to the first article in the Scheme Fit Series! If you haven't watched the first Video in the series, check out Scheme Fit: Tom Brady and The Tampa Bay Buccaneers down below.
Today I am looking at Austin Hooper and how well he fits with the Cleveland Browns and especially with Baker Mayfield. I said weeks ago that Hooper never would re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons but I never would have guessed he would go to the Browns so this will be a ton of fun. Let's dig in!
First we have to look at Austin Hooper and what he does best. His receiving patterns in the short zones looks a bit different from other Tight Ends. This is not a bad thing, opposite actually. The Falcons have targeted him in the short left zone almost 40% of all his targets. The short left is for Tight Ends just as important for fantasy production as it is for Wide Receivers(go check Mecole Hardman Making the Leap for a deep dive to why this is good).
His catch rate has been fantastic, and I am not talking about the deep zones. He has been targeted deep so rarely that I don't want to draw to many conclusions from that. No, it is the short zones I refer to, I do wish the short left was higher than right but we are all good, above 70% everywhere is more than enough and 86% is fantastic, more on this zone later.
The yards per completion is what carried him into fantasy stardom last year. 22 yards per catch in the short left is ridiculous and 11.1 is fantastic in the short right zone. These are two really important zone in this analysis as we will see when we look at Baker Mayfield.
Baker Mayfield throws just as many passes to the short right as he does left. This is not something I am excited about for him personally but for Austin Hooper this is great! His catch rate is amazing to the right and his yards per reception is out of this world left so we are look good so far.
However, it is concerning to see Mayfield's completion percent in short middle and right. This is not acceptable for anyone, especially a Quarterback. You absolutely have to be above 60% in the short zones for me to be interested in drafting you in fantasy the next year, especially with the Wide Receiver talent he had around him. This impacts the fit with Hooper a lot, Ryan has 68% or more in all these zones.
Yards per completion is actually a bit higher for Mayfield to the left and over the middle. So he makes up for the inaccuracy somewhat by having bigger plays when he actually connects. This is not the best for fantasy as you can't trust him to be consistent but I won't complain too much. For Hooper this is a decent fit, far from the best as I for instance would have taken Derek Carr over Mayfield. If we only look at the passing trends that is, not situation and team.
With the injection of Wide Receiver talent on the Cleveland Browns the Tight End position took a big hit in terms of targets. It went down from over 100 in 2018 to only 69 in 2020. The Atlanta Falcons on the other hand had over 100 targets to the position in 18 and 19 so I won't be projection Hooper too many targets in 2020.
With roughly 531 targets to go around in the entire team, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt and David Njoku still on the team there will not be 100 targets for Hooper. More likely in a range of 75 to 85. To be fair I will give him 80 in my projection below and also include a progression for Baker Mayfield as he grows as a Quarterback and get more comfortable.
In conclusion, I am not excited for Hooper with this move. The fit in the team for fantasy is just not good enough. There is not enough targets and Matt Ryan is a better Quarterback for Austin Hooper than Baker Mayfield, not by much I will give him that. But there are around 30 more targets in Atlanta to go around and more targets in general has gone to the Tight End position.
Even if we bump up Baker Mayfield's numbers 5% he doesn't reach Hooper's numbers in 2019, not even Hooper's 2018 numbers. This is a good thing for the Browns as a team and great for Mayfield but I won't be drafting Austin Hooper unless I can get him in double digit rounds.
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Till next time! // CSD