Fantasy football reaction to NFL free agency and trades: What does the DeAndre Hopkins trade mean?

  • Fantasy football, NFL analyst for ESPN.com
  • Member of Pro Football Writers of America
  • Founding director of Pro Football Focus Fantasy
  • 2013 FSTA award winner for most accurate preseason rankings

We will offer 2020 fantasy football analysis and updated projections off of the most notable NFL free-agent signings and trades throughout the early portion of the signing period.

For a full listing of all the latest moves, news and rumors, be sure to check out our 2020 free-agency tracker.

NOTE: This column will be updated throughout the first couple of weeks of the free-agent signing window.

Major trade reactions
DeAndre Hopkins to Cardinals, David Johnson to Texans

Players joining new teams

WR DeAndre Hopkins traded to Arizona Cardinals, RB David Johnson to Houston Texans

As this was quite the big deal, a quick recap wouldn’t have done it justice. Please click here for full analysis of what this means for Hopkins, Johnson and other key fantasy players on both teams.

TE Austin Hooper to Cleveland Browns

Kevin Stefanski made heavy use of his tight ends while leading a run-heavy Vikings offense during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Cleveland’s new head coach will now have former Falcons star TE Austin Hooper at his disposal for 2020 and beyond.

Hooper has finished no lower than seventh among tight ends in routes, targets, receptions or receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. He posted career-high marks in targets (96), receptions (75), receiving yards (787) and touchdowns (six) in 2019 despite missing three games. Hooper was fantasy’s top-scoring tight end prior to suffering an injury in Week 10.

Moving on from Matt Ryan and Atlanta’s pass-heavy offense hurts Hooper’s stock a bit, but a near-every-down role in a Cleveland offense that also includes Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb and third-year QB Baker Mayfield positions the fifth-year tight end as a mid-to-back-end TE1 option. David Njoku’s value takes the biggest hit here, as he’s unlikely to see enough volume to produce close to top-12 numbers at the position.

Austin Hooper early 2020 projection: 72 targets, 53 receptions, 568 yards, 5 TDs

TE Hayden Hurst traded to Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons didn’t take long to find their replacement for Austin Hooper. Only a couple of hours after Hooper agreed to sign with the Browns, Atlanta traded 2020 second- and fifth-round picks to Baltimore in exchange for Hayden Hurst and a 2020 fourth-round pick.

Hurst was a first-round pick back in 2018, but he spent last season third in line for snaps in a tight end-friendly Ravens offense that also featured Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle. Hurst posted a 30-349-2 receiving line and ranked sixth at tight end in both catch rate (77%) and yards per target (8.9). Hurst has yet to eclipse a 58% snap share in 30 career games, but he figures to blow by that mark often in Atlanta while operating as a near-full-time two-way tight end. Tight ends have handled a target share no lower than 15% and no higher than 19% during Dan Quinn’s five seasons as head coach. As the roster stands, that bodes well for Hurst, whose primary competition for targets will be reserves Jaeden Graham and Carson Meier. Hooper averaged a 15% target share in pass-heavy Atlanta last season, whereas Hurst wasn’t far off that mark at 9% in run-heavy Baltimore.

In fantasy, Hurst is obviously a bit risky, as the 26-year-old has seen more than four targets in a game only twice in his career. However, he’s also well-positioned for a breakout season as Matt Ryan’s third or fourth option in the passing game. He should be considered a TE2 option with upside. This move has little impact on the Ravens, as Mark Andrews (24% target share average in 2019) and Nick Boyle (10%) will both be back.

Hayden Hurst early 2020 projection: 73 targets, 51 receptions, 579 yards, 4 TDs

Key re-signings/tags

RB Derrick Henry gets franchise tag from Tennessee Titans

Henry returns as the feature back in Tennessee after pacing the NFL in carries (303), rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16) in 2019. Henry has been an absolute force as a rusher, ranking no lower than third in YAC each of the past three seasons. His heavy recent workload is a concern, but the good news is that he’s 25 years old and had not cleared 215 carries in a season prior to 2019. Henry’s minimal workload as a receiver (career-high 18 receptions last season) will continue to limit his fantasy output. Coupled with a probable dip in rushing production, he should be valued as a back-end RB1.

RB Kenyan Drake gets transition tag from Arizona Cardinals

Drake was somewhat surprisingly tagged Monday and will resume duties as Arizona’s feature back in 2020. The 2016 third-round pick was traded from Miami to Arizona at the 2019 trade deadline and went on to handle 66% of the team’s carries (15.4 per game) and 14% of the targets (4.4) from Week 9 on. He ranked fourth among running backs in fantasy points during the span. Arizona’s offense should only improve in Kliff Kingsbury’s and Kyler Murray’s second season, so Drake very much has back-end RB1 upside. As far as the rest of the backfield is concerned, David Johnson was traded to Houston and Chase Edmonds takes a big hit in value and is no more than a late-round flier.

WR A.J. Green gets franchise tag from Cincinnati Bengals

Green is back in orange after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. Green will turn 32 this season and has missed at least six regular-season games in three of the past four seasons. Despite the durability woes, he’s remains a fantasy force, ranking no worse than 16th in fantasy points per game in any of his eight NFL seasons. Green will obviously be a risky investment, but the superstar receiver can be considered a WR2 target in 2020 fantasy drafts. The expectation is he’ll be catching passes from rookie QB Joe Burrow.

QB Dak Prescott gets exclusive franchise tag from Dallas Cowboys

Prescott will be back under center for Dallas following his best professional season in 2019. He ranked no lower than sixth among quarterbacks in pass attempts (596), completions (388), passing yards (4,902), passing touchdowns (30), yards per pass attempt (8.2) and average depth of throw (9.4), all while dealing with a league-high 30 drops. Also a factor as a rusher (52-277-3), Prescott finished a career-best second at the position in fantasy points. Armed with a terrific line, as well as Michael Gallup (and perhaps Amari Cooper), Prescott should be considered a solid QB1 option.

QB Ryan Tannehill re-signs with Tennessee Titans

Tannehill signed a four-year extension with Tennessee following an impressive bounce-back 2019 campaign in which he completed 70% of his passes (third in NFL) and averaged 9.6 yards per pass attempt (first). The Titans scored three-plus touchdowns in 12 of Tannehill’s 13 starts, which helped the 31-year-old to the third-most fantasy points among quarterbacks from Week 7 on. He is a strong bet for statistical regression to the mean, so with the Titans’ extremely run-heavy offense also in mind, the veteran passer is best viewed as a solid QB2 option in 2020 fantasy leagues.

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