Last season was a tale of two Amari’s, but which Amari Cooper will we get this season? Will it be the old Oakland Raiders Cooper? The one who got hyped up every off-season, just to then let everyone down during the regular season. Or, will we get the Cooper who tore it up the last nine games of 2018 with the Dallas Cowboys? Does the move to Dallas make Cooper an upper-echelon receiver for fantasy football now? Dare I say, possibly even a wide receiver one? Take a deep breath and dive in with me, as I preview Cooper and give you his outlook for fantasy football in 2019.
Fantasy Football: Expectations Are High for Amari Cooper in 2019
Has Amari Cooper Truly Arrived?
With talk in Dallas about Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dak Prescott being the Triplets II, the hype surrounding Cooper is at an all-time high this off-season. For the first time in his career, Cooper will be starting the season with a team that has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Surrounded by talent, Cooper’s outlook for fantasy football is better now, than it has ever been. But how good can he be?
Well, in his first six games of 2018, while playing for the Raiders, Cooper was targeted 31 times, caught 22 passes, for 280 yards, and one touchdown. That was an average of 3.7 receptions per game, 12.7 yards per reception, and 46.7 yards per game. Cooper’s career averages are 4.6 receptions per game, 14.1 yards per reception, and 64.1 yards per game.
After being traded to the Cowboys, Cooper played his last nine games of the 2018 season with Dallas, and his stats skyrocketed. In nine games with the Cowboys, Cooper was targeted 76 times and has produced 56 receptions, 725 yards, and six touchdowns. That was an average of 5.9 receptions per game, 13.7 yards per reception, and 80.6 yards per game. Over 16 games that would add up to 94 receptions 1,289 yards and 13 touchdowns. Stats found at [Pro Football Reference].
The Grass is Greener for Amari Cooper in 2019
It’s amazing what playing with a competent quarterback on a loaded offense can do for a receiver’s stats. Now, I’m not saying Prescott is an ace by any means, but at least he can hit an open receiver when he sees one. Besides, the Cowboys offensive line will give him plenty of time to find the open receiver. The same can’t always be said for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who, at times, just looks lost on the football field.
Another example of the statistical leap taken by Cooper in 2018 with his new team was his catch percentage. Cooper’s catch percentage was 69.7 percent while with the Cowboys last season. That was nearly a full 10 percent better than his career average 59.8 percent catch rate while with the Raiders. Again, I realize that nine games is a small sample size but a 10 percent increase is significant.
Looking ahead, I would not expect 13 touchdowns from Cooper this season. However, 1,200 yards and maybe eight or nine touchdowns seem like reasonable projections for him. After all, Cooper will be the featured receiver for the Cowboys this season, and that role should afford him plenty of opportunities to pile up stats and fantasy points. However, can he sustain the level of production he had with the Boys in 2018, and do it for a full season in 2019?
Amari Cooper’s Draft Stock Soaring in 2019
Cooper’s fantasy stock is on the rise as he heads into his first full season as a Cowboy. He will lead a receiving corps that consists of himself, second-year receiver Michael Gallup, and veteran free-agent pick up Randall Cobb. Cole Beasley was sent packing in the off-season. The Cowboys have also brought back the corpse of Jason Witten to man the tight end position. I think that it is fair to say that Cooper is, by far, the most talented receiver of this group. Therefore, his target share should be secure, and will probably be in the neighborhood of 20 percent or more.
If a receiver gets up around 23+ percent target share, that usually points to an elite fantasy receiver. Now, I’m not saying that we should put Cooper among the elite receivers just yet. Rather, I would put him in the second tier of fantasy wide receivers, amongst players like Julian Edelman and all of the Los Angeles Rams wide receivers.
Cooper gets a lot of respect from opposing cornerbacks in the league, as his average cushion of six yards shows. That’s because Cooper is a quality route runner, as evidenced by his average 2.9 yards of separation per [Next Gen Stats]. Now, it seems that the stars have aligned for Cooper and his career. He finally gets the opportunity to showcase his talent in a setting that is conducive to success.
Is He Worth His ADP?
Cooper’s ADP is currently 33rd overall according to [Fantasy Football Calculator]. Remember, ADP is an average of where players are being drafted and not a rule book demanding where players have to be drafted. Now, that being said, I think 33rd overall sounds about right for Cooper. He should be drafted soon after the second tier of running backs, the top-tier of wide receivers and top-tier tight ends all come off the board. Once all of those players are gone, that’s the time to draft a player with high upside, like Cooper.
Copper can fill your WR1 role if you go running back-running back with your first two picks or some other combination of non-wide receivers. Although, ideally, he would be a great number two receiver on your fantasy squad. I think the best approach to use with Cooper, if you draft him, is to slot him in your lineup and leave him there, regardless of matchup. He’s going to have huge weeks, and some down weeks too, but you don’t want to miss out on any big weeks because you were scared of his matchup and sat him. So just slot him in your starting lineup and let it ride.
Cooper is a great fit for best ball and total points leagues, where you don’t have to worry about his highs and lows. However, he is still a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 in all fantasy football formats heading into the 2019 NFL season. He should be drafted after the top-tier of receivers and in the same neighborhood of players like Stefon Diggs, Mark Ingram, and Brandin Cooks. In a vacuum, I would draft Cooper over all three of them.
All signs point to good things coming from Cooper in 2019. If he plays a full season, I think he is going to make believers out of just about everyone who has not yet jumped on his bandwagon. So jump on, strap in, and enjoy the ride, because 2019 Amari ought to be a lot of fun.