Brandin Cooks’ Trade Impact (Fantasy Football)

Apr 5, 2018

Brandin Cooks is heading to LA, but will it make a difference?

The Patriots are exactly who we thought they were. They’re a team that got Brandin Cooks as a one-season loaner and parlayed that into a higher first round pick (23) than what they spent to get him the previous season (32). As fantasy players, though, the question is what kind of impact does this have on the fantasy front?

Any time a relatively high profile player gets traded, multiple people are affected. In this case, we’re also talking about a receiver leaving arguably the greatest quarterback of all time for a quarterback who was considered a potential bust after his rookie season (although Jeff Fisher rightfully deserves some of the blame there). So to help provide some answers on what kind of impact we can expect, we reached out to our featured experts below to ask them three questions about this trade. Check out their responses below.

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Q1. What can we expect for Brandin Cooks’  fantasy value after his trade to the Rams?

Jared Goff played well in year two, but going from Brady (or Brees) to Goff is clearly a downgrade for Cooks as he fills the void left by Sammy Watkins. Not only did the Rams (518 PA) throw it less than the Patriots (587) in absolute terms, they had a much lower pass-play percentage (55.83%, 23rd in NFL, to 59.78%, 10th). Meanwhile, defensive upgrades could lead to even more game scripts that favor Todd Gurley and the ground game. Even though Cooks should post better overall numbers than Watkins (39/593/8) did last year, lower year-over-year production with greater week-to-week volatility should be expected for Cooks.”
– Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

“Cooks has proven his value with three straight 1,000-yard seasons and at least seven touchdowns in each of those campaigns. Jared Goff represents a definite downgrade for him at quarterback, but in Sean McVay we trust. Where Sammy Watkins came up short in a Rams uniform, the far-more consistent fantasy threat Cooks will succeed, as McVay finds ways to make the most of his new weapon. Cooks will be a low-end WR2 for his owners in 2018, and gets a slight bump up in best-ball formats.”
– Justin Boone (theScore)

“He has dropped a decent amount in my initial rankings, but it’s not the end of Cooks. We saw Coach McVay get a ton out of speedster Desean Jackson in Washington, and I’d expect Cooks to fill that role. He should be a high variance WR2 next year.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

“He’s going to be overvalued in fantasy football in 2018, plain and simple. His skill-set and what he does well doesn’t match up with his new quarterback, Jared Goff. Over his career, Goff has completed just 32 percent of his passes that have traveled over 20 yards down the field. Meanwhile, Cooks’ former quarterbacks Drew Brees and Tom Brady combined for over 51 percent in that same time-span. Cooks has been the No. 2 receiver in each of the last two years for yardage on deep balls, where he got a lot of his production. Cut that in half and he’s likely just a boom-or-bust WR3.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“Cooks has been a PPR WR1/2 with two different elite quarterbacks and play-callers and is entering a new situation with another solid coach and scheme. I think he’ll be just fine and may actually see an increased role in the red-zone.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Q2. Who is impacted the most from a fantasy perspective in New England after the trade?

“Assuming the Patriots don’t shatter the collective psyche of the NFL world by trading for Odell Beckham Jr., Chris Hogan will be the biggest beneficiary for Cooks’ departure. After a hot start that saw him score five touchdowns in the first five games, Hogan missed almost all of the second half of the season with a shoulder injury. He made his return in the divisional round and eventually posted a 6-128-1 line in the Super Bowl. Hogan was a top-10 fantasy receiver through eight games in 2017, and with an increase in targets, the potential is there for him to be a top-20 option this season.”
– Justin Boone (theScore)

“With Cooks gone (and Danny Amendola before him), 190 wide receiver targets depart from the 2017 roster. Julian Edelman has 532 targets in 55 games since emerging as Brady’s go-to receiver in 2013 and I expected him to lead the receivers in targets with or without Cooks on the roster. While Edelman gets a small boost with Cooks gone, Chris Hogan gets a bigger boost by the departure of Cooks if he can stay healthy. Before missing nearly all of the second half, Hogan had 33/438/5 over his first eight games last year.”
– Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

“I don’t believe the player who will benefit most is on the roster right now, as I believe they use one of their four picks in the top two rounds to draft a wide receiver who can contribute right away. But sticking to the current roster, it’d have to be Chris Hogan, who averaged 17.9 yards per reception the year before Cooks arrived in New England. Another name to keep an eye on is Malcolm Mitchell, who was forced to miss the entire 2017 season. Most have already forgotten that he had 21 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns over a four-game stretch at the end of 2016.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“Trying to find the WR that fills the Cooks void will be an offseason mystery. Julian Edelman is secure in his role of the slot, and likely will be the go-to when the Pats run a one WR set. However, in 3-WR sets will we see Phillip Dorsett, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, or a mystery man? It won’t shock me to see them lean on Dorsett, who physically is an extremely comparable player to Cooks.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

Julian Edelman, who is all but forgotten after missing the entire 2017 season, should be in a position to rack up another 90+ catch campaign and is a nice value pick at his current ADP.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Q3. How does the trade impact your fantasy expectations for Jared Goff? Where will he sit in your QB rankings?

“The Rams offense was going to produce with or without the addition of a star receiver, so Cooks joining the mix only provides a slight upgrade for Goff’s 2018 outlook. During their surprisingly successful 2017 campaign, the Rams were 24th in passing attempts, a number that could be even lower this season with the NFC powerhouse projected to be leading in even more games. Goff will flirt with borderline QB1 fantasy numbers once again, but he remains outside my top-12 fantasy passers.”
– Justin Boone (theScore)

“Overall I view the replacement of Watkins with Cooks as a positive for Goff’s outlook, but I don’t expect an increase in pass attempts as the team’s outlook has improved. Given his lack of rushing (67 career yards), his fantasy production is almost exclusively derived from his passing numbers. Despite the lack of volume, Goff finished as fantasy’s QB12 in 2017 and I expect him to settle into the QB10-12 range in my 2018 fantasy rankings.”
– Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

“The signing won’t move the needle much for Goff for me. The TD void from Sammy Watkins’ departure just slides over to Cooks. Hopefully, we can get a few higher ceiling games from Goff, but Todd Gurley is the star of the show in LA.”
– Mike Wright (The Fantasy Footballers)

“It doesn’t really change that much for me, honestly. The way I see it, Cooks is a lesser player than Sammy Watkins, and he’s going to fill that role. While Cooks can create more flexibility in an offense than Watkins did, the Rams don’t need him to be the player he was for the Saints, as they have one of the best running backs in the league. With the Rams defense getting massive upgrades this offseason, it’s unlikely that the Rams offense will have to throw more than 30-35 times per game. While Goff can remain efficient, as he was last year, it’s hard seeing him take a leap into the top-10 quarterback territory.”
– Mike Tagliere (FantasyPros)

“QB is so deep that it’s hard to get Goff into the top-10, but he’s an excellent option for drafters that choose to wait to grab their signal-caller, or a solid weekly streamer. That’s about the range he’ll likely end up in my projections, anywhere from QB 11-15.”
– Jody Smith (FantasyPros)

Thank you to the experts for giving us their thoughts on the Brandin Cooks trade. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and subscribe to our podcast below for advice all year round.

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