By The Hudsonian, Joshua Hudson
Transaction: The Los Angeles Rams acquire WR Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots
2018 Fantasy Outlook: After watching Sammy Watkins depart via free agency to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Los Angeles Rams found themselves with a hole at receiver. With rumors swirling about the availability of Giants’ WR Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams did their due diligence and seemed like the preferred destination for OBJ. Then talks broke down. I’m sure the Rams thought to themselves, “Wait, we have to give up premium draft picks AND sign him to a lucrative extension? Wait a second…” When you think about the money, it’s easy to want to find the closest liquor store and binge.
The Rams did an about face and in the blink of an eye, shocked the NFL world when they dealt their first round pick this year for Patriots’ WR Brandin Cooks. This marks the second straight offseason that Cooks has been traded — for a 1st round pick no less. Why does this come as such a shock? Cooks finished 10th among WRs in receiving yards last year, averaging 16.6 yards per reception, hauling in 65 catches and 7 TDs. He also finished as WR13 with 203.50 fantasy points scored. In three of his four seasons in the league, Cooks has surpassed 1,000 yards receiving and has 24 TD catches over the last three seasons, 6th in the league over that time frame.
So that begs the question: why would the Patriots jettison arguably their best wide receiver after only one season? This feels like more of an internal decision, something along the lines of Cooks and Brady just didn’t have the kind of chemistry the QB hoped for. Outside of that, the trade is baffling from the Patriots side. Yes, they get Julian Edelman back from injury and they still have Chris Hogan and their leading receiver from last season, TE Rob Gronkowski, but all three have checkered injury histories. Something just feels fishy. But the Patriots loss is the Rams gain.
On the Rams side of things, they get a more decorated receiver to take Watkins place in the offense. Here’s the problem from the fantasy side of things — the Rams care little about your fantasy team. They effectively have a 1A, 1B, and 1C at WR. They spread the ball around. A lot. Watkins had only 39 catches for 593 yards in 2017. You think Cooks will be pleased with numbers like that in a contract year? The Rams didn’t have a single receiver with over 100 targets and only rookie Cooper Kupp had more than 60 catches. If the tide shifts and Cooks gets over 60 catches, there’s a chance he remains a top 15 option at WR. But there are too many variables, not the least of which is the Rams love for both Woods and Kupp. HC Sean McVay could decide to lighten the load on Todd Gurley some after he finished third in the league with 343 touches. If that happens, there’s no reason to think Cooks, Kupp, and Woods all finish with over 60 catches. If Cooks averages 15 or more yards per reception, he should exceed 900 yards with 7-9 TDs. That will keep him in WR2 territory, which is where I believe he winds up. The thing about Cooks though, he’s frustrating to own because he’ll have some games with a 1-15 or 2-28 stat line. Those types of games aren’t ideal, but hey, no one is perfect, right?