The Rams have been very active this offseason. They were mentioned as a potential suitor of Giants receiver Odell Beckham, but instead they made waves by acquiring Brandin Cooks from the Patriots. Los Angeles traded away the 23rd overall pick and a sixth-round pick to land him from the Patriots. New England gave up Cooks and a fourth-rounder to acquire the additional draft capital.
The move suggests that the Patriots did not want to pay Cooks, as he was entering the final year of his rookie contract. The massive paydays that WRs Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins received probably played a part in the Patriots’ decision making. This news takes the Rams out of the Beckham sweepstakes, but it also has massive ramifications for the 2018 fantasy values of players on both rosters.
Brandin Cooks – Better Than You Think?
Did you know that Cooks’ receiving fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE) was higher than Watkins, Robinson, Mike Evans, and Jarvis Landry through four seasons?
In a class full of stars, Cooks is second only to Beckham in efficiency. Of course, a lot of this is due to quarterback play. He was the only one who got to play his first four years with Drew Brees and Tom Brady. But he was also a multi-faceted weapon. After only being targeted deep on 17 percent of his receptions as a rookie, that number jumped to 40 percent last year, giving him the sixth-most air yards (1,759) in the league.
Cooks has recorded three-straight 1,000-yard seasons and benefited from playing with elite quarterbacks tied to creative play callers. Although no one would put Jared Goff in the same category with Brees or Brady, Cooks may find himself in a similar scenario in 2018. NFL Coach of the Year Sean McVay helped the Rams tie New England for the second-highest points per game (28.9). He also oversaw a huge leap from Goff.
How Does Cooks Fit With the Rams?
Used as more of a deep threat than at any time previously in his career, Cooks only earned 114 targets and 65 receptions despite the absence of Julian Edelman. It would torpedo his fantasy value if he moves into the same role as the departed Watkins, who finished outside the top 50 in targets with only 70. This isn’t a death sentence for Cooks’ value – he had 227 yards after the catch last season and averaged 332 in New Orleans; he’s an adept underneath threat – but something has to give. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are clear losers in this trade as the Rams won’t have 20 percent market share for all three receivers, especially not with Todd Gurley also emerging as a receiver.
Gurley’s fantasy production as a receiver out of the backfield was a key component of his RB1 season, and the Rams averaged 27.6 rushing attempts per game last season. It will be difficult for everyone to perform to fantasy ADP, but the overall offense should be a juggernaut.
New England Fallout
The Patriots were looking forward to playing Edelman, Cooks, and Chris Hogan together in 2017, but that didn’t happen after the Edelman injury. Despite Edelman’s absence, Cooks needed another injury to Hogan to truly emerge.
With Cooks gone, the target volume for Edelman and Hogan opens back up considerably, and it also puts Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Malcolm Mitchell, and perhaps even Cordarrelle Patterson on the radar in deep leagues.
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