Cooper Kupp-le-Touchdowns-a-Game had one of the best fantasy football seasons of all time last year. Kupp led the NFL in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. That’s the receiving triple crown and then some.
It was, in fact, the highest fantasy score from a non-QB in 2021, with 439.5 fantasy points, to be exact. He outscored the WR2, Davante Adams, by 95 fantasy points. To put that in perspective, he scored at least four more fantasy points a week than every other WR in football. He capped it off by catching the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl and then winning the Super Bowl MVP. The Rams then rewarded him with a 110-million-dollar contract. It was an absolute dream.
Cooper Kupp will now catch passes from Matthew Stafford for a long time. So, he’s probably the easy favorite to be the WR1 again, right?
No? Why am I the only member of the Club Fantasy Rankings team to have Cooper Kupp as my WR1?
Everyone else has Justin Jefferson. Justin Jefferson is also the darling of the fantasy community to be the WR1 this year. Well, they are wrong! I’m here to say that not only is Cooper Kupp the easy WR1 this year, but he’s also worthy of the 1.01 overall in redraft leagues.
Note: Our Wednesday, August 3rd, No Punt Intended episode will look at Cooper Kupp in fantasy football! We welcome the great Chris Allen from NBC Sports and Footballguys as a guest. The show will cover the Bengals and Rams, plus predictions for the 2022 season.
Cooper Kupp in Fantasy Football
A Look Back at 2021
Let’s start by putting last year into perspective compared to the other great wide receivers. We will also pull Justin Jefferson specifically into the discussions since he’s the consensus WR1 from the analyst community.
Last year Kupp had 191 targets. That was 22 more targets than the next highest of Davante Adams and Diontae Johnson. Kupp had 145 receptions. That’s 22 more receptions than Davante Adams and 37 more receptions than Justin Jefferson. Kupp had 1947 yards receiving. That’s 331 more than Justin Jefferson. Kupp also had 16 touchdowns, two more than Mike Evans, three more than Ja’Marr Chase, and six more than Justin Jefferson.
This equated to scoring 90 fantasy points or more in 2021 than every other receiver. Moreover, it was 109.5 more fantasy points than Twitter darling Justin Jefferson.
The redzone was a big reason why Cooper Kupp was far and away the WR1 and still should be. Some may call it the KuppZone (trademark pending). Kupp had 38 red zone targets, 27 receptions, 209 yards, and 13 TDs, inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Those were good for first in football across the board. Jefferson had 15 fewer targets, 15 fewer receptions, 101 fewer yards, and six fewer touchdowns in the redzone.
Inside the-10? Same thing. Kupp was first in targets, receptions, and touchdowns. Jefferson had eight fewer targets, seven fewer receptions, and six fewer TDs. Kupp’s dominance in the redzone was also a big reason why Stafford joined Brady as the only two quarterbacks with 40+ passing touchdowns last year. Stafford led the league in redzone touchdowns and only had one interception in the redzone, so let’s not expect the Kupp RedZone dominance to change, or should I say, the KuppZone.
One of the community’s arguments is that Cooper Kupp will undergo some statistical regression. And while it’s true that Kupp will go through some regression, remember the KuppZone. First, there is no reason that he will lose targets where they matter most. Second, a gap that big between the WR1 and WR2 won’t just vanish without another guy having a massive statistical anomaly of a season. Why is that?
Well, Let’s say we take Kupp’s stats down from 191 targets to 158, from 145 receptions to 119, from 1947 yards receiving to 1541, and 16 touchdowns down to 12. Those are significant regressions for the best WR, with Matthew Stafford, on the Super Bowl Champion, Sean McVay-led Rams. Yet, if Kupp had those statistics last year, he would have still been the WR1. He would have been slightly ahead of Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson.
Justin Jefferson also ready had an outstanding season. He had 167 targets, 108 receptions, 1616 yards, and 10 TDs. I have yet to hear one good reason why Jefferson improves on those statistics, and Kupp regresses.
I’ve been told it’s because they have Kevin O’Connell calling plays now, and he will implement the Sean McVay system for the Vikings.
That may be true, but there’s still only one Sean McVay, who is the head coach for the Los Angeles Rams. Maybe they run Jefferson more out of the slot? Like the Cooper Kupp role of the offense. His yard per reception would come down, which still doesn’t explain why or where the target bump would come from in the Minnesota offense.
Touchdowns are also hard to predict, and Jefferson already had 10. Throw in the expectation that Dalvin Cook’s TD totals go through some positive regression, too, after an absurd number of runs that came short last year. Cook had six touchdowns. He had 30 in the previous two years. So, there’s more evidence to suggest that Jefferson is near his ceiling than evidence suggesting his ceiling is about to go through the roof.
I’ll still take Kupp to out-target and out-TD Justin Jefferson. Do I need to remind y’all of the Kuppzone statistics?
New Target Competition
Another big argument from the analysts in the fantasy football community is that they love Allen Robinson, and he’s going to eat into Kupp’s production, apparently. Nonsense.
Yes, Allen Robinson (A-Rob) is a big name, he’s seeing a lot of hype for the contested catches he’s making out of camp, and he’s playing with the best QB of his career. However, that doesn’t mean he will eat into Kupp’s production. Robert Woods was the WR2 on this offense for nine games last year before his injury. Woods was on a 17-game pace of 130 targets, 85 receptions, 1050 yards, and 8 TDs. I think we can all agree that after Allen Robinson’s 2021, where he was less productive than Cole Kmet, a season of 130 targets, 85 receptions, 1050 yards, and 8 TDs, would be a very successful season.
The biggest question is whether that kind of season would eat into Cooper Kupp’s production and knock him off the WR1 mantle? The answer is a resounding no.
In those nine games with Robert Woods last season, Kupp had a 17-game pace of 195 targets, 140 receptions, 1925 yards, and 19 TDs. So, Kupp was on pace for an even better season than he had if Woods had stayed healthy all year. We can also agree that Odell Beckham Jr was a good WR2 for the Rams in the playoffs, right? Well, Kupp’s 17-game pace from the playoffs would’ve had him over 2,000 receiving yards and 26 TDs. So, don’t buy into the narrative that A-Rob is a negative for Kupp. He is a positive for Kupp and the Rams offense as a whole. Would the fantasy community prefer Ben “Stone-Hands” Skowronek to be a starting WR on the Rams? I didn’t think so. So, we’ve established why Kupp should still be the WR1 unless Justin Jefferson goes nuclear.
Now we can talk about Kupp as the 1.01. Kupp had 66 more fantasy points than Jonathan Taylor last year, and Jonathan Taylor was the RB1 overall. That means Kupp had nearly four more fantasy points per game than the consensus 1.01 pick this year. Now throw Matt Ryan into that equation for Jonathan Taylor. The Colts have a real possibility of passing more and running less. So, what If you don’t think Taylor is the 1.01 this year?
Christian McCaffrey (CMC) is a popular pick at the 1.01. I can’t hate on CMC’s game. When CMC is healthy, he’s worthy of the 1.01. However, CMC has only played in 10 games in the last two years, so there are some apparent risks here too. Injuries, am I right?
So, let’s take Kupp at the 1.01 (2021’s highest-scoring non-QB by a wide margin) and experiment.
For those in the community that cringe when you don’t select your anchor RB in the first round, you can still potentially draft the likes of Aaron Jones, Saquon, or Leonard Fournette, at the 2/3 turn. Leonard Fournette was the RB6 and in a similar position to succeed this year. Aaron Jones was the RB11, but this year’s sky is the limit. Brian Daboll is calling plays for Saquon now.
The WRs at the 2/3 turn? AJ Brown, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, etc. They are good, but none have that elite upside, and they all come with risks. This is year ten for Keenan Allen, AJ Brown is on a new team and is being priced above a realized ceiling, and Mike Williams will have his peaks and valleys. Therefore, Cooper Kupp, then back-to-back RBs if you wish, can also maximize your roster’s weekly scoring potential more than people think.
Cooper Kupp had one of the best seasons in history last year. Nothing has really changed for the Rams. This got them a Super Bowl, and Allen Robinson helps. You don’t willingly throw that away in hopes that Justin Jefferson can have a season like that, too, while also saying Kupp is bound for regression. It’s a bad bet.
Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill are on new teams with quarterback downgrades. It doesn’t seem likely that anyone else in the field has that upside that Kupp does.
Don’t listen to my cohorts at Club Fantasy. Cooper Kupp is still the WR1. And I hope I helped emphasize why he’s not only the WR1 but worthy of the 1.01. Give me Cooper-Kupp-le-touchdowns-a-game, all day, every day, and twice on Sundays.
A Look Inside the Los Angeles Rams
Editor’s Note: We asked our writers to focus on one player, but we don’t want to leave you hanging on the rest of the team. While Chris focused on Cooper Kupp in fantasy football, here is a quick look at the rest of the Rams, prepared by either Josh Hudson or Ryan Weisse.
Matthew Stafford: The WRs are great, and there are questions at RB. In year 2 with McVay, we could see an even better Matt Stafford. He is one of the best values in fantasy and why you should always draft your QB late. -Ryan Weisse
Cam Akers: Running backs returning from Achilles injuries have an absolutely horrible track record, and Akers’ draft capital is far too high. Let him be someone else’s headache. -Ryan Weisse
Darrell Henderson: If Akers can’t go, Henderson will be right there, waiting to be mediocre again. -Ryan Weisse
Allen Robinson: Robinson is likely to have the best season of his career and should be locked in as your 5th Round pick in every draft until his ADP creeps up. -Ryan Weisse
Van Jefferson: Too many questions surrounding his health to even make him worth a late-round flyer. If the team brings OBJ back, he’ll be worthless. -Ryan Weisse
Tyler Higbee: With no healthy 3rd WR, Higbee could have a quiet top-10 season. If you’re too lazy to stream, he could be a safe but boring “Set it and forget it” option for the late-round TE crowd. -Ryan Weisse
We hope you enjoyed our look at Cooper Kupp for fantasy football this season. This was the final article in the 2022 A Look Inside series, but you can read all the others here!
If you’re prepping for your fantasy drafts, you can also find our 2022 Consensus Rankings here.