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Why Draft Amari Cooper When This Carbon Copy Is Cheaper?

“You pay for this, but they give you that.”

That classic Neil Young lyric came to mind as I was researching this year’s “Why Buy?” series. We’re often so confident of what we’re going to get when we spend that sixth-round pick on the next big thing, but in reality, we rarely know what we’re buying.

The solution? Pay less.

That’s the concept behind our “Why Buy?” series, which is inspired by the Fantasy Douche’s Getting Something for Nothing article penned back in 2013.

Whatever you want to call it — arbitrage, discount shopping, or simply fading overpriced players — there’s no shortage of opportunities to buy knock-off versions of more expensive players this season.

We already explored discounts plays on Dante Pettis and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mark Ingram, Tarik Cohen, and Corey Davis.

Cooper Concern?

News that the Cowboys’ star receiver hasn’t practiced since early August as he deals with plantar fasciitis isn’t doing much damage to his ADP, which has slipped only a few spots.

Cooper doesn’t sound worried, but he’s not entirely writing the injury off, either.

“Like I said, it’s not really that bad — especially just walking around,” he told the team’s official site. “But to do the things that I do on the field, obviously, I’ll be cutting really hard, stopping really hard, those things. I haven’t tried to really do that, so I couldn’t really tell you.”

There is a case to be made that, assuming good health, Cooper should be higher than the 13th WR off the board considering his WR9 pace after being traded to the Cowboys last year.

At the same time, I struggle to justify Cooper’s third-round price tag when this receiver is posting near-identical numbers at a discounted rate.

A Twin in Tyler Boyd

Tyler Boyd may not have Cooper’s pedigree or early-age NFL production profile, but he was a pretty phenomenal prospect in his own right. And his numbers last year straight-up mirror Cooper’s.

In addition to being the same age and height, the two had the same number of targets, receptions, and market share, while Boyd had a few more fantasy points and was more efficient.

All this on a team that ran the third-fewest plays per game at 58.6. Dallas, meanwhile, ran 63.6 plays per game, the 12th most in the league.

Shawn Siegele also notes that Boyd’s numbers suffered without Andy Dalton for stretches of last year:

Boyd was on pace for a 92-1223-9 season before the Dalton injury, and they jump a little more if you look only at games where he had A.J. Green drawing coverage.

Green will miss some time again this season as he recovers from ankle surgery, and the Bengals offensive pace should rebound under a new Sean McVay-influenced coaching staff this year, both significant factors for Boyd.

The pair are neck-and-neck in the Range of Outcomes App, with Cooper bringing the safer floor and Boyd getting the slight edge in the median and high projections.

PlayerTargetsRecsYardsTDChangePPR AVGLowMedHigh
Amari Cooper85630.3-113.212.313.215.2
Tyler Boyd85610.4-312.99.713.515.6

All the evidence suggests that the outcomes for these two will be similar again in 2019, but you can buy Boyd several rounds later.

 

Conclusion

Picking Cooper the third, and especially fourth round, is fine, but it’s clear that Boyd is mispriced once again in 2019.

Both make for good targets, but events are conspiring to make the Bengals WR a player that should be a priority target in every draft.

Image Credit: Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Amari Cooper.

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