Alden Newman – Pats Militia
The Pats surprised the football world this offseason when they traded for Brandin Cooks. The 23 year old is already a star, and I would argue that he is the most talented receiver the Patriots have acquired since Randy Moss in 2007 (Not counting the seventh round quarterback we drafted out of Kent State). Even if Cooks doesn’t put up big numbers this season, his mere presence on the field will help the Patriots offense. Tom Brady has three elite level weapons, along with a slate of reliable and effective alternative options. So from a football standpoint, the Cooks addition is already a success. But in the fantasy world, Cooks has become a great mystery. Tom Brady is going to throw a ton of balls for a ton of yards with plenty of touchdowns, but this is a classic example of there being a ton of mouths to feed. So how should Cooks be viewed as a fantasy receiver in 2017?
For the sake of this article, I’m using the scoring settings from my league (0.5 PPR, 1 point per 10 yards receiving, and 6 points for a TD). In 2015, to be considered a WR1 a receiver needed to average 13.25 points per game. That year Cooks averaged 13.11 ppg, and was the thirteenth overall receiver. In 2016 the WR1 mark dropped to 11.875 points per game, and Cooks was the eighth overall receiver with 12.7675 ppg. The numbers do not lie, Cooks has been a bona fide stud early in his career. He’s worked with a future hall of famer for his first three years, but this lucky bastard has now somehow upgraded.
There are no signs that indicate that receivers cannot produce big time numbers in their first year with the Patriots. The prime example of this being Wes Welker and Randy Moss in 2007 (210 rec, 2668 yds, and 31 TDs between the two of them). Since ‘07, the Patriots have not brought in superstar talent at the wide receiver position. Edelman had time to learn the system and develop his role, but certainly did not join the team as a superstar. Guys like Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan made plenty of big plays for the Pats in their first years, but did not put up the kind of statistics desired by fantasy owners. But hell, even Brandon Lafell caught 74 balls for almost 1000 yards and seven touchdowns. I have to believe that with his skillset, Cooks will at the absolute minimum put up those kind of Lafell numbers, with the potential to put up Welker/Moss totals if he clicks with Brady.
The “experts” disagree on whether or not Cooks should be considered a WR1. Yahoo ranks Cooks the highest, as the 12th overall receiver. But Jamie Eisenberg and Heath Cummings of CBS Sports rank Cooks at #26 and #27, respectively. I wish Eisenberg and Cummings were in my league so that Brandin Cooks could be my FLEX! I believe Cooks will find a significant role in the Patriots offense, and as much as it pains me to say it, Edelman and Gronkowski have been getting beaten up for years and could very likely miss a few (hopefully no more than that) games this year. Whether you play fantasy for money, entertainment, or bragging rights, I think that you can be confident investing in the youth, talent and promise of Mr. Brandin Cooks.
Bonus! Cooks statline prediction: 82 rec, 1382 yds, and 11 TDs
Brandin Cooks is a whole new level. That SPEED pic.twitter.com/kXlIxMJUkR
— Patriots Militia (@PatsMilitia) July 29, 2017
The dude is an absolute weapon