At minicamp, Falcons QB Matt Ryan heaps praise on young, promising TE Austin Hooper.
I usually do not take minicamp reports seriously. Everyone looks good at minicamp. I looked good there and I didn’t even participate. HOWEVER, when it involves a player I was already high on, I tend to take a little more notice and pay closer attention.
— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) June 13, 2017
At 6’3″, 254 pounds, Austin Hooper is already one of the better blocking tight ends in the league, using his large frame to chip and protect when needed. However, he showed flashes during the regular season where he looked like a legitimate three-down tight end, demonstrating the ability to get open and stretch the field (he had 4 games of 40+ receiving yards during the 2016 season) as the sixth or seventh option in a stacked Atlanta Falcons offense. Most importantly, maybe, are these statistical gems: Do you know who led the Atlanta Falcons in targets in Super Bowl 51? That’s right, Austin Hooper with 6. And do you know who caught the first passing touchdown of the game? That would also be Austin Hooper, on a beautiful seam route over Patrick Chung.
I get it, some people are off the Atlanta Falcons bandwagon because of the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. But that offense is still supercharged with Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu. And they still play in a dome. Also, I highly doubt Matt Ryan forgot how to throw the football simply because his offensive coordinator left town. Before last year, Ryan went four straight seasons with 600+ attempts. Even last year he still surpassed 500 attempts and led the league by a wide margin with an eye-popping 9.26 yards per attempt and 117.1 passing rate. Plus, do I even have to mention the revenge factor and extra motivation they have after the heartbreaking way in which their 2016 season ended. (In an unrelated note, Tom Brady is the GOAT, enough said).
You may ask “But RedSocker45, how do you expect me to rely on a guy named Hooper, especially after naming all those skill guys?” Anyone remember Ben Watson on the New Orleans Saints in 2015? Cause I do. Watson helped me win the championship that year as the 5th or 6th option on a loaded Saints team. Sometimes being the least foreboding name can only mean good things in fantasy. While defenses scheme around that potent running attack, the high-flying acrobatics of Jones or the lightening-quick speed of Gabriel, Hooper will be open underneath as Ryan’s security blanket and should be able to find plenty of space in the end zone to use his big body to shield defenders, meaning Hooper’s touchdown total could pile up quickly. As a guy that does not draft tight ends until the final rounds, Hooper is the perfect type of high upside talent and touchdown scorer that I look for and will gladly wait to take this potential diamond in the rough in round 12 or 13.
And mostly importantly, never forget that Hooper drives the boat, Chief.
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