Austin Hooper Injury Update Destroys Rest-of-Season Fantasy Outlook Ahead of Month-Long Absence

Jason Schandl
Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons
Los Angeles Rams v Atlanta Falcons / Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

It was already apparent earlier this week that Austin Hooper's Week 11 fantasy value was shot, as he was expected to "miss some time" pending the results of an MRI on his knee.

Well, the results are in and Hooper's sprained MCL is expected to keep him sidelined for about a month. This calls his overall fantasy value into question with just six weeks remaining in the fantasy football season.

Hooper has been terrific through nine games in 2019. He is tied for the lead among tight ends in both receptions (56) and touchdowns (six), and his 17.2 PPR fantasy points per game blow away the second-best mark of 15.5.

His 18 percent share of the Atlanta Falcons' targets ranks second only to Julio Jones, and those 56 receptions puts him three ahead of Julio for the team lead.

If this month-long timeline for return holds true it could just about end Hooper's 2019 fantasy season. A four-week absence would have him out until the fantasy playoffs, and he would be back in a nightmare Week 15 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. That's not a great spot, even when he's healthy, and adding in a return from injury would make Hooper tough to rely on.

Luke Stocker stepped up to play 31 snaps with Hooper leaving early in Week 10, but the journeyman tight end has consistently seen reasonable snap counts all season, amassing only nine targets. In his career, Stocker has just 111 targets and 74 receptions for 611 yards across nine seasons. He's a week-to-week, touchdown-dependent streaming option at TE, even with Hooper on the shelf.

If your fantasy league gives you a deep bench or you have a clear path to the playoffs, it may be worth stashing Hooper for his potential upside in the championship game in Week 16 or 17.

Most teams will have seen their seasons end by that point though, and there's a very real chance that if you stash Hooper you would go the rest of the fantasy season without starting him. It hurts to drop fantasy football's TE1, but sending him to the waiver wire in favor of a higher-upside alternative could prove to be a better use of a roster spot moving forward.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.