As Kelly and Ozzy Osbourne once sang "We're going through changes"... you know the one, such a beautiful song...! But while you probably don't want to hear about my music preferences, this is definitely true when talking about the likes of Tom Brady, Todd Gurley, DeAndre Hopkins, and Austin Hooper. These 4 players were arguably the biggest names at their positions who moved teams this offseason. So in this article, we will dive in and take a look at the implications of their moves, and if it will provide them with a change for the better or worse from a fantasy perspective. Let's kick things off with the G.O.A.T...
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After 20 years with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady will enter the 2020 season as the franchise QB of a different organization following on from signing his 2 year, $50 million contract this offseason... The Tampa Bay Buccaneers!
Firstly, let's take a look at Brady's career stats and see why he is often mentioned as the greatest QB to ever play the game:
Brady has been a constant mid to high-end QB1 throughout his career with the New England Patriots. However, over the last couple of years, Brady's production has slipped leaving him more as a high-end QB2. So following on from his move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, how does Brady's outlook change? Well, I think it's safe to say that he has definitely found himself in a much better situation than what he was in with the Patriots. Let's look at some of the reasons why Brady could be in for a bounce-back in 2020.
Improvement in offensive weapons - While I have nothing against Julian Edelman and N'keal Harry, Brady finds himself with a big improvement in his WR corp in Tampa Bay. He now has the likes of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J Howard, and his old friend and fellow new acquisition Rob Gronkowski. Evans - a big-bodied target for Brady both downfield and in the end-zone. Also had over 1000 yards for the last 6 seasons since entering the NFL. Godwin - Broke out in a big way in 2019 finishing the season as the WR2 with 1333 yards and 9 TDs. Howard - While he took a step back in 2019, there is no denying O.J Howard's talent. Can Brady unlock the potential that he showed in 2018 once again? Gronkowski - Arguably one of the greatest TEs ever! Can he and Brady roll back the years once again and dominate?
Offensive scheme - There is no denying that Bill Belichick is one of the greatest coaches in the NFL, but Brady's new head coach Bruce Arians could be the key to him returning to a top fantasy QB again. Arians' offenses are usually among the league leaders in pass attempts which leads to his QBs often been great fantasy assets. Yes, Brady is 42-years-old and may not have the arm strength that he once had, but I believe Arians will play to Brady's strengths. Remember when a 36-year-old Carson Palmer finished as the QB5 in Arizona under Arians?
(* Starting QB injured during the season, passing stats are combined)
A chip on his shoulder? - You best believe that Tom Brady wants to prove the doubters wrong and prove that the success he has had during his career wasn't all down to Bill Belichick and his offensive scheme. What better way than to take the Buccaneers to the next level!
The signs are pointing towards Tom Brady taking a step forward again in fantasy following his move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He's joining a pass-heavy offense with arguably the best passing weapons he has had in many years. He has a great chance of been a mid to low QB1 again in 2020. Brady is an ideal buy right now in dynasty leagues if you are a win-now team or in redraft leagues in the middle rounds of your draft for the 2020 season.
Todd Gurley II
Following on from his somewhat surprising release from the L.A Rams, former Georgia Bulldog running back Todd Gurley has returned to Georgia with the Atlanta Falcons after signing a one-year deal worth $5.5 million.
Before we look at Gurley's 2020 outlook, let's see how his career stats look after his first 5 years in the NFL with the Rams:
After been selected in the 1st round (pick 10) in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Rams, Gurley started his career with a solid rookie season, finishing as the RB9. He took a slight step back in 2016 before then breaking out and running away as the clear RB1 in fantasy in 2017. That was then followed by another solid season in 2018, but towards the end of that season, things didn't seem to be right. Gurley missed the final 2 games of the regular season and then lost snaps to C.J Anderson during the Rams playoff run. It later transpired during the offseason that Gurley had arthritis in his knee which led to the Rams not overusing him last season, trying to protect that knee, which led to Gurley taking a step back in production. Both his rushing numbers and receiving number dropped but he still managed to finish as a high end RB2 with a few RB1 weeks towards the end of the season when the Rams loosed the reins on him and allowed him to dominate on the ground once again.
So what are the signs pointing towards in 2020 for Todd Gurley in Atlanta?
"Prove it" deal - The fact that the Falcons only have Gurley signed to a 1-year deal means that they have no ties to him. They could quite easily feed him the ball 20+ times a game as they only have to worry about that knee issue for this season. Why not let Gurley show that he still has the juice to be a dominant running back in the NFL. He may have a knee issue but let's not forget he is still only 25-years-old.
High powered Atlanta offense - Gurley will be joining an offense with arguably the best QB he has ever played with in Matt Ryan, along with a future hall of fame WR in Julio Jones and not to mention the young WR Calvin Ridley who is been tipped for a huge season in 2020. In 2019 Falcons RB Devonta Freeman averaged 5 targets a game in the 13 games he played, if Gurley got those kinds of looks in the passing game that would be an improvement on his 49 targets in 2019 with the Rams. This high powered passing offense could also open up lanes for Gurley to run wild in. The Atlanta Falcons offensive line was ranked as the 11th best run-blocking unit in 2019 (via PFF)
Gurley's backfield? - The Falcons don't have much depth at RB outside of Gurley with only players like Brian Hill, Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison behind him. Smith has only proven to be an average receiving back so far in his 2 years in the NFL and when Hill had the chance in 2019 when Freeman was injured, he was pretty unspectacular barring ripping of 2 or 3 long runs in a couple of games. Ollison was used as a goal-line back towards the end of the season but with Gurley around I can't see him getting those opportunities in 2020.
There is no denying that there is an injury concern around Gurley, capping his long term value. Short term, however, I believe Gurley can be a great asset to have on your dynasty rosters or again in redraft. The opportunity is there for him, he's never finished outside the top 15 RBs and now the lead back on a high powered offense. With a current ADP of RB15 in 2020, I believe you are getting him at an RB2 price but with the potential of RB1 numbers in 2020. If you're a contending team, get him at his discount now before he starts flashing his upside during the season.
Next up, we'll be taking a look at wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Coming out of Clemson, Hopkins was selected in the 1st round (pick 27) in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. But now, after 7 years with the Texans, Hopkins will be playing for the Arizona Cardinals in 2020 following one of the strangest and arguably the worst trades we have seen in many years in the NFL. In March, the Texans traded DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 4th round pick for running back David Johnson, a 2020 2nd round pick and a 2021 4th round pick!
So first off, let's take a look at Hopkins career stats first:
4 times a top 5 WR and 4 times a Pro Bowler, DeAndre Hopkins is one of the most talented WRs in the NFL right now. In 2019 he had a solid season, posting over 100 receptions, although the yardage and amount of TDs were down on what we have become used to from DeAndre Hopkins. Now he's in a new environment with the Cardinals though, so what's his outlook for 2020 and can he continue to be a top-end WR1 in fantasy? Sadly, I feel there are more cons to Hopkins move rather than pros.
Kliff Kingsbury air raid offense - The Arizona Cardinals have become a fast-paced, pass-heavy offense under Kliff Kingsbury. Rookie QB Kyler Murray ranked 9th in attempts in the NFL in 2019 (Averaging 35 passing attempts per game) and their pass play % was at 60.4%, which is good going for a rookie.
Downgrade in volume - Hopkins has had a market share of 30+% in the last 3 years in Houston. However, in 2019, Kyler Murray spread the ball around in Arizona. Christian Kirk led the team with a 23% target market share and only he and Larry Fitzgerald had over 50 targets with the rest been spread out amongst the other WRs. With Hopkins signing, you would imagine he will lead the team in targets but he won't have the market share he had in Houston.
Downgrade at QB - While there is no denying that Kyler Murray is talented and he still has room to improve, I still believe Murray is a downgrade from Deshaun Watson. Murray doesn't have the accuracy Watson has. In 2019, Watson's catchable target rate was 75.6%, whereas Murray's average amongst his WRs was 67.9%.
Yes, DeAndre Hopkins is one of the most talented WR in the NFL but following on from his move, I'm fading him in 2020 at his current ADP of WR2 in dynasty and WR4 in redraft. It usually takes time for WR to gel in their new offenses (Think Odell Beckham Jr. in 2019 when joining the Cleveland Browns) and with that in mind, plus the downgrade in volume, I can't see him living up to that value.
If you own Hopkins I would be holding him for now, and if you don't, during the season could be a great time to grab him at a discount if he makes a slow start. Long term I like the landing spot but for 2020 I would temper expectations.
Finally, we take a look at tight end Austin Hooper, who signed a 4-year deal worth $44 million with a $10 million signing bonus with the Cleveland Browns. Making him one of the highest-paid TEs in the NFL in 2020!
Coming off a solid 2019 season, here is how his stats look so far during his career:
After a slow start to his career, which is often common with young TEs, Hooper went on to have back to back TE6 finishes with the Falcons. This was even more impressive in 2019 considering he missed 3 games with an MCL sprain in his knee, which also resulted in his snaps been limited for the final 4 games of the season. So following on from these 2 impressive seasons in 2018 and 2019, whats his outlook in 2020 now he's with the Cleveland Browns?
Money talks! - After receiving such a large contract it's hard to believe that the Browns don't have big plans for Austin Hooper. It's a signal of just how much they wanted to get him in Cleveland. Obviously players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will still get their targets, but behind those two there isn't much quality at the WR position with players like 6th round rookie pick Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins. Hooper should slot in as the No.3 passing option for QB Baker Mayfield.
Top 10 TE contracts in 2020 (via OverTheCap):
Tied to a young talented QB - Although Baker Mayfield may not have lived up to the hype that he showed during his rookie season, he is still a highly talented QB who could easily bounce back in 2020 with new head coach Kevin Stefanski. Been tied to a young QB should help Hooper maintain a stable value. It's also worth noting that during his rookie season he wasn't afraid to target his TE. David Njoku finished the year as the TE9, with 73 targets once Mayfield became the full-time starter in week 4.
Overall I don't think the move to Cleveland is bad for Hooper, but I do believe it is a step back from the Falcons. The Browns will not be as pass-heavy as the Flacons, especially under Stefanski, and he's receiving a downgrade at QB going from Ryan to Mayfield until Mayfield shows he can live up to the potential he has shown. With a dynasty ADP of TE13 and a redraft ADP of TE9, I feel that's not too far off. I don't expect him to finish TE6 again in 2020, I believe he will more likely be a mid to low-end TE1 (TE9-12 area) in 2020. If you aren't contending he could be an ideal sell to a contender for something like a late 2021 1st.