Apparently, the Patriots felt that they had one too many Cooks in the kitchen because they are moving on from their big 2017 offseason acquisition, Brandin Cooks.
The Rams, who already were offseason darlings, boost their receiver corps with the talented and speedy Cooks. The move puts the Rams over the salary cap so they will look to restructure his contract. Cooks is set to earn $8.349 million in 2018.
But enough about the business side of things. Let’s jump into the impact this has on Cooks, as well as the QBs and receivers for the Pats and Rams.
I’ll be addressing the following categories in this impact breakdown:
– Brandin Cooks’ fantasy value
– Kupp/Woods value
– Impact on Jared Goff and Tom Brady
– Update on Rams and Patriots Draft/Free Agency strategy
Impact on Brandin Cooks’ Fantasy Value
I think, while this is a great move for the Rams as a whole, this move is a slight downgrade to Cooks’ fantasy value.
First of all, he gets a downgrade at the quarterback position. Let’s face it; Cooks has been extraordinarily fortunate when it comes to who he catches passes from. Now he moves from back-to-back HOF quarterbacks to a talented, but flawed, young QB in Jared Goff.
In 2017, Goff attempted 477 passes which was 104 less than Brady did in only one more game played. Goff’s pass attempts might rise a bit as he gets more comfortable, but with Gurley in line for 18-20 carries per game, there’s only so much higher he can go. Cooks will operate in a similar (but more reliable) role to what Sammy Watkins had in 2017. But considering they have near identical catch rates (56% for Watkins, 57% for Cooks), the ceiling is not as high as you might think.
Then there are the receivers around Cooks. Last year, Cooks had an open door to 1,500 yards receiving with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell out for the season, and Chris Hogan battling injuries of his own. But he didn’t hit that number. In fact, he had a worse season in 2017 for the Patriots than he had in 2015 and 2016 for the Saints, where he was surrounded by talented receivers.
Statistically, Goff offers nothing more than Brady could for Cooks. He didn’t attempt as many deep balls as Brady, and he doesn’t throw as often. He’ll target Cooks perhaps about 90 times this year, and with the 57% catch rate and a 16.6 YPR average, Cooks could feasibly end up with 850 yards and 8 TDs. That would put him finishing around the WR14 mark in standard and WR 21 in PPR based on 2017’s results.
Last year, Cooks finished as the WR7 in standard scoring but the WR15 in PPR. The current ADP figure on dynastyfootballfactory.com puts Cooks as the 26th overall draft pick (WR14). That’s precisely where he belongs. If offseason hype pushes him any higher, I will let him slide.
Impact on Kupp/Woods/Fantasy Value
The impact on the Rams’ receivers is not nearly as much as people might suspect. True, both Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods deserve a slight downgrade, but they shouldn’t be avoided altogether.
This is primarily because these two fill a much different role than Cooks does. I’d only expect Cooks to eat up about 25-35 more targets than Watkins did last year. But as I also said, I do expect that Goff will throw the ball a little more than he did in 2017, so the difference in targets won’t change drastically.
While Cooks is a deep threat, he’ll still come in and see about 70 targets of 20 yards or less (Watkins saw 52 such targets in 2017). So he represents more of a threat than Sammy Watkins ever did. But in my opinion, Kupp and Woods will remain steadfast fixtures in this passing offense. Kupp will likely keep his numbers pretty stable since he works out of the slot, while Woods may lose some targets to Cooks in 2018.
Right now, Kupp is being drafted as a WR29, and Woods comes in as the WR 32. Now, these numbers are bound to go down as the news of the Cooks acquisition percolates its way through mock drafts. But it’s safe to say that both will be drafted in the WR 35-40 range within a couple of weeks. I think this represents a tremendous opportunity to get these guys cheap come draft time.
We will have to wait and see how the rest of the offseason shakes down, but I’d be comfortable drafting Woods as a bench WR. Cooper Kupp is a guy I’d be happy to draft as my 3rd WR.
Impact on Jared Goff and Tom Brady
Jared Goff will enjoy having a more reliable deep threat than he had last year. He’ll also grow as a passer in his own right with a multitude of options and a dynamite rushing attack. So I feel like he gets a slight upgrade as a result of this move.
His current ADP has him as the QB12, which is right where I’d draft him after the Cooks move, so perhaps he was a little overvalued in my mind before the trade. Since his stock will potentially climb to a QB10 or better number though, I’d be wary about overpaying for him.
As far as Tom Brady is concerned, it’s a little too early to tell. The Patriots may very well be in play for another receiver either via trade or the draft. But if they are rolling with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell come Week 1, then yes he gets a slight downgrade. Brady is going to be a complicated case that will require further monitoring. While Rob Gronkowski is less likely to be traded now that the Patriots have moved Cooks, it’s still a possibility.
It’s difficult to predict the rest of the offseason for the Patriots. But once we confirm that Gronk is returning, then I’m still comfortable grading Brady as my QB3.
Impact on Rams and Patriots Free Agency/Draft Strategy
First things first, and I’m not the first to say this, but the Patriots are likely not going to pursue Odell Beckham as a result of this trade. It’s way too far outside of Belichick’s M.O. of bringing in players who more about team performance than ego. Plus, the Patriots are not a team that goes out and spends big on a free agent. Which is kind of what Beckham can be seen as due to his suggestion that he needs an extension from whatever team he plays for in 2018.
No. The Patriots will look to develop internally or look for value in a less-hyped receiver option. They may even use an early draft pick on one of the talented receivers coming out of the 2018 draft. Speaking of the draft, it’s rumored that the Patriots will use their new first round pick to select a QB. So they appear to be preparing for life after Tom Brady. Which is to be expected as Brady is in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career.
As far as the Rams are concerned, they will be a busy group. They have one less draft pick to worry about, but that’s just about the only thing that they don’t have to consider.
This trade brings them in over the salary cap so they’ll need to shed some contract weight in some way. This is unlikely to affect any of the offensive skill players and is probably going to play out in a back-loaded contract offer to Cooks when it comes time to sign his extension.
This is a trade that signifies the Rams consider themselves to be Super Bowl contenders. As a Seahawks fan, it pains me to say that I agree. They have the most complete roster in the NFC and have a stud at almost every possible position. They should be able to handle the NFC West and are a great bet to earn a top seed for the playoffs.
For fantasy owners, this is a shakeup that is bound to lead to some extended thought processes before hitting the ole “draft” or “accept trade” icon. But with some research, shrewd decision-making, and regular time spent on dynastyfootballfactory.com… You’re golden.