In our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series, DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion.
To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:
Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
Deep Sleepers – An end-of-the-roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top 175 or so.
Because we aren’t going to give you the likes of mainstream sleepers, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Adam Thielen or James Robinson is going to spring up. Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.
The Tennessee Titans are perhaps one of the least desirable offenses in the league when it comes to fantasy assets. Their highest drafted player in the DLF’s most recent ADP is Derrick Henry, who checks in as the RB15, and the 52nd overall player, with Ryan Tannehill coming off the board 54th overall.
What the Titans lack in high-value fantasy assets, they more than make up for with sleepers though. Though I chose not to select the following players for this article, rookies Malik Willis and Hassan Haskins can both be had later in drafts and could have paths to fantasy relevancy backing up the less-than-dynamic Tannehill and an aging Henry. There’s also Robert Woods, coming in at WR55, but I’ve written roughly 400 articles about him so decided against selecting him for this piece.
Instead, I’m going to dig deeper, much deeper for my sleeper on the Titans roster…
Austin Hooper, TE
Category: Deep Sleeper
What a fall from grace it’s been for Hooper. After finishing as the TE8 in 2018, he flew up the board as the TE10 in 2019 drafts. He had an even better 2019 season, finishing as the TE3 and scoring 14.7 points per game, but he left Atlanta after that season and joined the Cleveland Browns on a mega deal.
In his two seasons in Cleveland, Hooper had a total of just 780 receiving yards, which was seven fewer yards than he had in just his final season in Atlanta. He was released by the Browns and signed with the Titans on a one-year, $6 million prove-it deal. The net impact is Hooper now being drafted as the TE32 and is now suddenly a great buy-low target.
Despite ranking just 26th in the league in pass attempts per game (31.1) in 2021, the Titans showed a proclivity for involving their tight ends, ranking 15th in tight end target share (20.7%) last year. While that rate may technically be middle of the pack, when you consider that the Titans in 2021 consisted of Anthony Firkser, Geoff Swaim, and MyCole Pruitt, it doesn’t take a giant leap to think that that target share could increase as Hooper is a much more accomplished tight end than any of those gentlemen.
It’s not as if Hooper is a stranger to capturing elite target shares. His 18.5% in 2019 ranked eighth at the tight end position, and his 19.1% share ranked ninth the following season. Keep in mind, those two seasons spanned two different franchises, so Hooper has shown – in the not too distant past – an ability to earn targets, even if it didn’t lead to any real fantasy relevancy in 2020.
The ability to earn targets is always a welcomed skill-set, especially when a player is joining a roster that just might have some of those targets up for grabs during the 2022 season. AJ Brown, who captured a 27% target share last year for the Titans, was traded to Philadelphia on draft night. Before shedding Brown, the Titans traded for Robert Woods and they drafted Treylon Burks 18th overall in the NFL Draft. There’s a high probability that most of the targets that would have gone Brown’s way in 2022 will now instead end up in Burks and Woods’ hands, but that’s not a guarantee.
Woods has been one of the most consistently good wide receivers in the NFL over the past half-decade, finishing as no worse than the WR19 (PPG) each of the past five years. But…he is coming off a torn ACL suffered in November of last year and has moved to a new team (usually not a great thing for wide receivers), and there’s also the fact he’s never produced as anything other than a Ram during his career.
Burks is a rookie, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he struggles in his inaugural season, and early camp reports on him have been less than glowing. Both Woods and Burks could conceivably thrive and there is still one more scenario that could benefit Hooper.
The Titans were the most run-heavy offense in football last year, barely missing a beat when they lost Derrick Henry, with D’Onta Foreman carrying most of the load in his absence. Foreman is very much a poor man’s Henry, but he’s moved on to the Panthers, and in his place is a much poorer man’s version of Henry in Hassan Haskins. If something were to happen to Henry, I have sincere reservations that Haskins would be able to fill in as well as Foreman did last year, considering his prospect profile.
What makes Hooper such an intriguing sleeper is that he doesn’t need all of the above scenarios to play out. He doesn’t truly even need any of them to play out to outproduce his ADP. He’s outproduced TE32 in every season of his career excluding his rookie season, and as he showed in 2018 and 2019 can even be an elite option in an offense when the situation presents itself.
In an offense with questionable receiving options, a thin running back room, and one that has shown itself to value tight end production, Hooper makes an excellent option for anyone who’s punted the tight end position, and is looking for cheap production. If you already set at the position, Hooper makes a good back-of-the-roster stash who you can stream in weeks with favorable matchups.
- The DLF Dynasty Fantasy Football Mailbag - August 7, 2022
- DLF’s Dynasty Fantasy Football Sleeper Rankings - August 2, 2022
- 2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football Summer Sleeper: Detroit Lions - August 1, 2022