Free Agency

Free Agency Thoughts: Brandin Cooks to Rams

As soon as change happens in life, many of us get anxious while figuring out what the change means. But when it comes to fantasy football there is a sense of excitement, and expectation of grand possibilities, that is often unwarranted. Which reaction to the trade is more reasonable? Anxiety because a player’s floor becomes scary or excitement because their ceiling spikes? This is the question I often find myself asking in the case of trades involving players like Brandin Cooks.

What Can We Expect?

Brandin Cooks is mostly known as a downfield threat from his time in New Orleans, and his route tree wasn’t all that impressive from last year’s Reception Perception data. His best route in that data set was the post, but a quick look at his 2017 film shows that his time in New England could have expanded his versatility.

Most analysts have considered this move a downgrade due to the competition for targets and the projected usage of Cooks as a downfield threat. Since he is replacing Sammy Watkins, I took a look at the Air Yards for a point of comparison. It is reasonale to expect significant downgrade in air yards as Watkins had 1009 to Cooks’ 1759 air yards. To make matters worse, Cooks is inheriting an assumed 5% reduction in target share while joining the Rams. His volume also takes a hit as he had the 17th most targets with 109, but Watkins was only targeted 66 times (59th).

Looking at passer/receiver compatibility (examined in Movement Creating Potential) Cooks makes a lateral move here with the lowest compatibility ratings at 2 (range from 2 – 33), but again remember this was based on last year’s pre-2017-season Reception Perception data. Goff‘s average depth of target was ranked 24th in the league (Brady was 12th). This will be the first time Cooks is catching passes from a non-future-hall-of-famer. Cooks value is looking seriously bleak after moving to LA.

Cooks down on the final route he would run as a NE Patriot in Super Bowl 52. -Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Is There Hope?

Here are some of the positives to give Cooks’ owners some hope. He is going to a high production offense again (#1 last year in scoring). His teammates in Woods, Kupp, and Gurley should provide him several single coverage opportunities. Keep in mind that Gurley saw the 3rd least stacked boxes last year which had him running wild. If defenses try to focus on stopping him this year, as they should, things should be more wide open in the passing game.

Sean McVay’s innovation of that offense last year earned him coach of the year (Doug Pederson should have won that honor, #PhillyPhilly) so perhaps he is able to find more creative ways to use Cooks. It should be considered that maybe Watkins just wasn’t a fit, but it wasn’t discovered until after bringing him in last year. In fact just today, LA announced that Cooks would be wearing the #12 jersey in 2018, replacing Sammy Watkins in every sense he can for this team.

McVay’s made Woods (8th in PFF‘s points per opportunity) a viable fantasy receiver, and Cooper Kupp (15th in PPO per PFF) produced quite a bit for a rookie, so how much more can he do with a burner who is a 1000+ yard, 7+ TD receiver for three years in a row?

What Should We Do?

Time will tell how this actually goes. If you own Cooks in dynasty my advice is to hold so you can wait and see. His value is probably at an all time low so you may not be able to get much. His value could return to what it was with Tom Brady, if McVay’s offense unlocks some hidden potential in Cooks, or if there is some unforeseen chemistry between Cooks and Goff. Because of this I would recommend to buy-low where you can on Cooks to capitalize if these unforeseen things happen. The asking price in dynasty should be good. Numbers-wise, there is no evidence to support an acquisition of Cooks, but stranger things have happened and at the right price I would be willing to take the chance. As a Cooks owner, things appear bleak now, but it feels right to bank on his production history being that there is no value to be had at the current time.




A computer systems instructor with a passion for the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles, and fantasy football (especially DFS and dynasty). Trying to crack the tough DFS nut utilizing my computer skills to tailor my research. Meshing my passion and work ethic to provide readers a different perspective on fantasy football analysis.

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