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Brandin Cooks, former first-round pick out of Oregon State, will be playing for his third NFL team in 2018. Although he's already heading into his fifth season in the league, he is just 24 years old and will turn 25 in September. Cooks spent his first three seasons with Drew Brees down in New Orleans, where he put up two 1,000-yard seasons, 21 total touchdowns, and seven 100+ yard games. During his rookie year, Cooks had just 550 receiving yards, four total touchdowns, and 53 receptions. It's also worth noting that he played in just 10 games during his rookie year. Since then, he has played a full 16 games in each of his last three seasons.

There was a lot of hype around Cooks when he was headed out to New England last year. Losing a quarterback like Drew Brees is tough, but getting a new quarterback in Tom Brady, there were lots of mixed opinions on this new landing spot. Some notable stats that decreased from the past two seasons in New Orleans were his receptions, receiving yards, yards per game, 100+ yard games, YAC, and total touchdowns. Some notable stats that increased were his air yards and his YPR numbers. In my opinion, this was largely due to the schematic change in New England. Despite this drop in his numbers, he still finished as the WR15 in PPR scoring, which was his lowest finish in the past three years as he finished as the WR10 in 2016 and WR13 in 2015.

Although Cooks can be frustrating to start every week, he consistently puts up enough numbers to keep him as a high-end WR2 with low-end WR1 upside. While I wouldn't feel great about having him as my WR2 on my dynasty team this year, if you're able to have Cooks as your WR3 or your flex, you're sitting pretty.

Editor's Note: One of our favorite fantasy football apps this season is SquadQL, where you can sync your ESPN, CBS and Yahoo teams and and optimize your lineups each week. The SquadQL app will give you customized lineup recommendations, and also player news, waiver wire and trade suggestions! Download SquadQL Now!

 

How Good is Cooks, Really?

Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, A.J. Green, Mike Evans, and Brandin Cooks. What do these six receivers have in common? Only six players ranked inside the top ten in both receiving yards and receiving TDs over the last three seasons. Cooks put up those numbers with just 360 targets. For perspective, Brown had 540, Jones 480, Hopkins 517, Fitzgerald 456, Evans 457, and Green 375.

Dynasty ADP
Coming off the board of RotoBaller's current dynasty ADP as the WR13, there clearly is a fair amount of hype surrounding Cooks, despite his new home in LA. Some of the notable receivers around his current ADP are T.Y. Hilton, Allen Robinson, Amari Cooper, and Juju Smith-Schuster. When you're looking at this group of receivers, there is just one WR that I'd take before Cooks for my dynasty roster, and that is Cooper. The talent and situation for Cooper are through the roof and he still has that elite fantasy receiver potential in my opinion. Hilton takes a seat behind Cooks thanks to his age and the uncertainty with the Colts offense. Smith-Schuster and Robinson both have some nice upside, but are both fairly overvalued at the moment.

Cooks signed a sizable contract with the Rams this off-season, which was good for five years at 81 million, with just over 21 million in guaranteed money. For perspective, the only other receivers that are getting paid more are Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, and DeAndre Hopkins, who also has an 81 million dollar deal. This puts Cooks with LA until he will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024. Similar to Watkins in Kansas City, who is actually right behind Cooks as far as the highest paid receivers go, these guys got absolutely paid, and there was a fair amount of controversy over these deals. Some football fans don't believe Cooks or Watkins deserve this type of money, but this day in age in the NFL, money talks. With the current contract situations of the other receivers for the Rams, this speaks volumes. I'll get into those numbers later.

Based on Cooks' current ADP, this isn't exactly the most ideal time to buy him. Looking around at several other dynasty football website's rankings, RotoBaller having him at WR13 is a little higher than some other websites are valuing him. If you're looking for the next WR1 on your dynasty squad, then, unfortunately, Cooks isn't the guy I'd recommend targetting. However, if you're looking for a solid WR2, WR3, or even a flex option, then Cooks is someone I'd love to get some more shares of. If you've got a guy like Cooks ideally as your WR3 on your dynasty team, you're set up great. Having him as your third WR on your dynasty team isn't out of the question by any means, considering the production he's had since entering the league in 2014, and the WR classes that have come since then. If he's your WR2, there's still some great upside there, especially if you're in a 14-team league or even deeper. Cooks is the type of guy that can win you your matchup on a weekly basis. He isn't that Golden Tate or Larry Fitzgerald type of player who gets consistent volume week in and week out, but he has the chance to blow up everytime he gets the ball in his hand. You may get those six-point weeks occasionally, but you'll also get those 30-point weeks, where Cooks is winning you your matchup.

The Rams Receiving Corps
With Cooks heading into LA on such a big deal, you'd have to imagine they have the intent of keeping him around for a long time. Whether that be to fill the Rams WR1 spot or to be that big-play deep threat for that offense or not, they clearly like Cooks enough to give him the chance at being their future WR1. On the other side of the field, you have a guy that came in from Buffalo and has produced some very underrated fantasy numbers.

Robert Woods finished as the WR29 in both standard and PPR formats last year, hauling in 56 catches for 781 yards, and five TDs. With Woods' current contract situation, the Rams are able to let him go after the 2018 season, with no dead money, and saving five million in cap space. Whether they will restructure his deal and keep him around is to be determined, but the option is there for the Rams to save some of that money. We will see how Woods does this year with Cooks opposite him, both of these guys have been known for stretching the field and putting up some big fantasy numbers on some weeks, and putting up some duds on other weeks.

On the other side of the field is the second-year receiver out of Eastern Washington, Cooper Kupp. Kupp is on his rookie deal still, which means the Rams get some nice production out of him at a very cheap price. With a deal that goes through 2020 on such a low cost, there is a good chance he sticks around rather than Woods does, based on their current situations. Kupp put up some impressive numbers as a rookie, finishing as the second-best rookie for fantasy outside of Smith-Schuster. He finished as the WR24 in PPR and WR23 in standard, with 62 receptions on 94 targets, 869 receiving yards, and five touchdowns. He also had some impressive red-zone numbers, with 23 red-zone targets, which was tied with Davante Adams for the third-most in the league behind Jimmy Graham and Keenan Allen.

Bottom Line
Cooks has all the opportunity in the world right now in LA. If he shows up this year and proves he can be that WR1, he has a very bright future ahead of him the way that team and that offense is trending. Say what you want about Cooks being inconsistent week in and week out, but he is consistently putting up low-end WR1 and high-end WR2 seasons for fantasy purposes. Over four seasons in the league, Cooks has put up 280 receptions on 429 targets, 3,943 yards, and 27 TDs. He's also put up 1,000+ receiving yards and five or more TDs in three straight seasons, which is a feat on Brown and Fitzgerald have done, putting him in some excellent company there. The fantasy football and dynasty football communities haven't given Cooks the respect that he's earned in recent years. Go out and makes some offers for Cooks, don't overpay, and reap the rewards of owning a solid WR2 on your dynasty teams, and a potential WR1 in the NFL, with years of great fantasy production ahead of him.