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Why Draft Amari Cooper When This WR is Cheaper?

Are you the kind shopper who happily snaps up the 50-cent savings on the no-name brand? Or even better, the dented can of the brand name item that’s been marked down? Then this is the series for you.

After all, why pay more when you can get the job done for less?

That’s the thinking in using arbitrage in fantasy football, a concept first coined by the Fantasy Douche years back.

The idea behind using an arbitrage approach in your fantasy drafting is that you’re looking to keep the same upside, while reducing your risk. – Fantasy Douche

Some of arbitrage plays we talk about will be the next Marvin McNutt, and some will be last year’s Mark Ingram, a player we insisted brought as much upside as many of the backs in front of him. We won’t win them all, but the wins will outweigh the losses when the cost to  acquire these players is so much more economical.

Let’s kick things off by asking, why draft Amari Cooper when this WR is cheaper? Especially when this player has outscored Cooper in three straight seasons.

Not only has our player outscored Cooper outright, he’s also done so on a per-game basis. He’s just been better across the board, and it’s had nothing to do with injuries.

And right now, he’s available in the fifth and sixth rounds while Cooper is going in the third and fourth.


Using Dave Caban’s suite of tools, we can get a grasp on the expected range of outcomes for any WR using historical projections. If you’ve used our Sim Scores app over the years, this you’ll be familiar with the idea of looking at a player’s low, median, and high projections.

Before we reveal our arbitrage play, let me ask you — which of the following players would you own?


The player on the top has a low, median, and high projection well clear of Cooper, who is on the bottom.

That player? Former teammate Michael Crabtree.

Death, Taxes, and Crabtree Outscoring Cooper

Crabtree his outplayed the guy who was drafted to take his job for the past three years; is that suddenly going to change now that he’s in Baltimore?


I realize the Ravens are not a sexy team when it comes to WRs, and we have Joe Flacco to thank for that. However, the downgrade from Derek Carr is not as big as you may think.


While Crabtree will be catching passes from a less-efficient quarterback, that could me mitigated by an increase in market share. Crabtree is no longer competing for targets with a former fourth-overall pick. Instead, he leads a depth chart featuring John Brown, Willie Snead, and Breshad Perriman, three players who, between them, accounted for 468 receiving yards in 28 games last year.

Flacco hasn’t had a true No. 1 WR to throw to in a few years, but in the past he’s been willing to pepper guys like Torrey Smith and Kamar Aiken with upwards of 130 targets.


Cooper’s career high in targets is 125. While he’s capable of eclipsing that this year, it also sounds as if new coach Jon Gruden is set to bring his offense back to the 70s. Although to be fair, a lot of the downside surrounding Cooper is already baked into his depressed ADP.


Having said all that, I do believe that Cooper has more upside as an uber-young, super-freaky talent. He’s got all the hallmarks of a guy who is should put up Hall of Fame numbers, he just… hasn’t done it yet.

Considering his potential, Cooper himself could be an arbitrage play on a first-round WR like Julio Jones. But if you played this season out a million times, chances are that Crabtree outscores Cooper the vast majority of the time.


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