Owning Amari Cooper is a roller coaster ride, and here’s why he’s shaping up to be a massive fantasy bust this year.
In his first full season as a Dallas Cowboy last year, Amari Cooper set career-highs in yards (1,189) and touchdowns (eight) on 79 catches. So it’s not surprising he finished as the WR7 in standard fantasy scoring, and WR10 in full PPR.
But as it is every year, being a Cooper fantasy owner was a roller coaster ride in 2019. He had four games with three or fewer catches, and four games with less than 25 yards. On the other end, he had four 100-yard games and five other games with at least 80 yards.
Three of those 100-yard games came before Dallas’ bye in Week 8, as did five of his eight touchdowns. From Week 1-7 he was WR4 (full PPR), and from Week 9-17 he was WR21 (full PPR). Duds in Week 12 (zero catches), Week 15 (one catch for 19 yards) and Week 16 (four catches for 24 yards) particularly hurt his fantasy owners.
Cooper led the Cowboys in targets last year with 119, however slimly over Michael Gallup (113). Now, rookie CeeDee Lamb is coming in to take over as the No. 3 receiver for the departed Randall Cobb (83 targets in 2019).
In those four 100-plus yard games, including 226 yards in Week 5 against the Packers, Cooper put up 49.2 percent of his yards for the season (585).
Cooper had 17 20-plus yard catches last year, accounting for 503 yards. Breaking it down, 21.5 percent of his catches produced 42.3 percent of his yards.
It should be noted Cooper draws the opposition’s top cornerback. That’s not going away this year, with matchups against Darius Slay (twice), Jalen Ramsey, Marcus Peters, Richard Sherman and Steven Nelson. The Eagles acquisition of Slay looks especially astute, given his history of shutting Cooper down.
Cooper’s target share is unlikely to rise this year, as Lamb and tight end Blake Jarwin eat up most of the 166 targets from last year left behind by Cobb and Jason Witten.
Cooper has an ADP of WR9 in standard scoring and WR11 in full PPR right now (via Fantasy Football Calculator).
Cooper might get to his typical numbers again this year. But his downfield catch numbers really spiked in 2019, nearly equaling the previous two seasons (19 20-plus yard catches in 2017 and 2018). Even with the chemistry he has with Dak Prescott, and Prescott’s proficiency as a downfield passer, deep balls are inherently random.
Cooper will be drafted as the clear WR1 by a lot of fantasy owners. Week-to-week volatility is an expected part of the equation, with a resume of it going back to his rookie season. But the prospect of six dud games right off the bat, and game scripts opening the door to a few more, Cooper is in line to fall short in half of the fantasy football season if you count playoffs.
A bet on Cooper putting up big numbers in the other half of the games, as predictable as they might be based on matchup, is now a bit riskier. When it’s all said and done, a SFW four-letter word will be attached to Cooper in fantasy this year–Bust.