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Brandin Cooks to Cowboys: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

Brandin Cooks to Cowboys: Fantasy Football Impact (2023 NFL Free Agency)

One of the most traded players in NFL history is on the move again. Early Sunday morning, news broke that the Dallas Cowboys are trading for Texans WR Brandin Cooks. The Texans are reportedly receiving a fifth-round pick in 2023 and a sixth-round pick in 2024.

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Cowboys Trade for Brandin Cooks

The Cowboys desperately needed an upgrade at the WR position and had been linked to nearly every free agent WR (especially Odell Beckham Jr.) and WRs reportedly available via trade (such as Cooks and Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins). Cooks immediately slots in as the Cowboys’ No. 2 option in the passing game behind WR CeeDee Lamb, especially as TE Dalton Schultz is currently a free agent.

Cooks was openly unhappy in Houston and expressed a desire to be traded prior to last season’s trade deadline. In 13 games for the Texans in 2022, he caught 57 of his 93 targets for 699 yards and three touchdowns. He has been hampered by poor QB play over the last few seasons, so this move is a clear upgrade for him.

The good news is that the Cowboys want to change their offensive identity in 2023 and throw the ball more. The bad news is that Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy will reportedly be the one calling the plays.
Mike Maher

Brandin Cooks’ 2022 season disappointed fantasy managers who drafted him in the middle rounds hoping for an underrated target hog who could help carry their fantasy teams to titles. It’s easy to speculate at first glance that Cooks finally hit the wall and that father time had finally found his home address.

Weeks PFF receiving grade (rank)* Yards per route run (rank)* aDOT (rank)*
1-7 62.5 (40th of 42) 1.39 (33rd of 42) 8.6 (31st of 42)
8-18 77.2 (20th of 57) 1.86 (22nd of 57) 15.3 (7th of 57)

*minimum 40 targets per PFF*

Let’s get this out of the way. Cooks is not over the hill. He is not washed up. Cooks’ 2022 season was a tale of two halves. Pep Hamilton attempted to force Cooks into a low aDOT RAC role last year, which Cooks is ill-suited at this stage of his career. In the first seven weeks of last season, Cooks saw his production lag as a replacement-level receiver in this lapse of judgment role that Hamilton cast him in. Starting in Week 8, Hamilton finally came to his senses restoring Cooks to a field stretching role, and he thrived. Over his final seven games, Cooks ranked 22nd or higher in PFF receiving grade, Yards per route run, and aDOT as he earned an 18.5% target share and a 33.5% air yard share. He was 22nd in Yards per route run, immediately behind Garrett Wilson and Brandon Aiyuk (per PFF). If you need further proof that it’s not time to put Cooks out to pasture, then consider that he ranked 27th in route win rate and 20th in win rate against man coverage last year. 

With Dalton Schultz likely gone, Cooks should have no issues claiming the second seat in the target tree behind CeeDee Lamb as his. Michael Gallup has been a JAG for most of his career and shouldn’t pose much of a threat. After Week 7, Cooks was the WR32 in fantasy points per game (minimum four games played, PPR). While Dak Prescott struggled at times last year, his deep ball is more than sufficient to hit Cooks in stride this year. Prescott has ranked inside the top-12 in deep ball completion rate in three of the last four seasons. Cooks is a WR3/4 who should have plenty of spike weeks in 2023.
– Derek Brown

Check out these other breakdowns of major moves:


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