Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper has exactly zero fantasy value in 2020. Do not be fooled by the Hooper hype train in Cleveland this year. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

Austin Hooper is a player that’s on my Don’t Eat The Cheese list for the 2020 season. I didn’t understand the motivation for the Browns to sign Hooper to a record-breaking deal. I understand the hype even less from a fantasy perspective. Let’s make this clear right now. Austin Hooper has zero fantasy value in 2020.

Hooper finished as the 7th best tight end for a reason last year. Over the first 8 weeks of the season, he was the single best tight end in fantasy before getting hurt. This can also be explained. During those first 8 weeks of the season, Hooper ran the most routes of any tight end in football.

More than Kelce, Kittle, Ertz, you name him. Hooper had the most opportunities last year… in Atlanta. That’s the key phrase right there. Matt Ryan threw the ball 616 times last year. Hooper is entering a situation that kills his value in two separate ways.

1: Baker Mayfield threw the ball 534 times last year. That’s already significantly fewer attempts than Ryan last year.

2: That number is expected to drop further. Kevin Stefanski is going to create a run first offense like he did in Minnesota.

3: Speaking of Stefanski and Minnesota, Hooper now enters a timeshare. Stefanski runs two tight end sets a lot. We have the example. There’s a reason why the Vikings drafted Irv Smith (who I’m a big fan of, by the way).

4: Irv Smith got 47 targets last year. Kyle Rudolph subsequently got 48 targets. When projecting for fantasy, Hooper is going to get around that number and so will David Njoku.

5: As of right now, Baker Mayfield is not as good as Kirk Cousins. He’s not as good as Matt Ryan either.

6: There are a lot of mouths to feed in Cleveland. More so than there were in Atlanta. Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, good luck finding a massive target share for Hooper.

Austin Hooper is not some world beating talent. He’s not changing the landscape in Cleveland. Hooper is a zone beating tight end. He finds the hole in the zone, makes the catch, and falls over. Hooper ran a 4.72 at the combine. This is not someone who is making big plays. This isn’t someone breaking tackles and picking up big YAC numbers either.

What are we doing here? Why would anybody consider using Hooper as their starting tight end in fantasy? This is what the Don’t Eat The Cheese column is for. Players that will ruin your fantasy season. Hooper is among those players in 2020.