Maybe this will be Amari Cooper’s year. Or maybe Derek Carr will continue to do what he’s been doing the last two years and not make a clear distinction between who the #1 receiver is between Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cooper’s being drafted in the middle of the 2nd round alongside guys like TY Hilton and Dez Bryant. He’s being drafted before Marshawn Lynch, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, and Todd Gurley. Here’s my main reason for not drafting Cooper: Give me Crabtree at the end of the fourth round. Crabtree had more targets, receptions and touchdowns than Cooper each of the last two years, and remains Carr’s favorite red zone target. Cooper only had about 100 more yards than Crabtree each year. Maybe Cooper takes the next step, but his draft position says he already took that step. I’m also a fan of drafting a very motivated Marshawn Lynch in this offense, and I’m not a fan of having multiple players on the same team in my starting lineup; it just limits my upside. So give me Lynch over Cooper as well for all of those goal line opportunities he will get.
There’s too much unknown with Brandin Cooks for me. In the Patriots offense, anything can happen. I can’t justify vaulting a new Patriots’ wide receiver up to the top of the third round. In the third round, I’m expecting serious production, and I don’t know how much I will be getting from Cooks. Brady already has a great chemistry with James White, Julian Edelman, and Gronk. Is there room for another wide receiver? In 2015, Gronk played 15 games and had a 21% target share. That same year, Edelman had a 24% target share, and had a 29% target share last year. Give me Edelman in the 5th round. Matthew Berry shared a stat before the start of last year: “For the third straight season, Tom Brady’s aDOT (average depth of target) dropped. Running backs accounted for more than 25 percent of his completions.” To me, Brady would have to change a lot of what he does successfully in order for Cooks to have as significant of an impact a third round pick should get you in fantasy success.
Belichick did trade a first round pick for Cooks, but having Cooks on the field is more than just giving Cooks the ball; it helps everyone on the offense, including creating room on underneath routes, having the safeties play back, not focusing completely on Gronk, and that’s worth a first round pick to have Brady pick apart opposing defenses. Having that true deep threat does wonders for an offense; Belichick continues to hack and tries to keep this run going as long as possible. I do see Cooks having decent numbers because he’s a good player who will get open, but I don’t expect him to return on his ADP. He’s not anywhere close to the talent level of Randy Moss, so we shouldn’t expect similar production.
Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Andrew Luck, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, or Cam Newton
Here is a chart of these QBs ADP and their average fantasy points per game last year.
Now let’s take a look late round QBs:
There’s no doubt that the higher round QBs outscore these late round QBs. But when you look at how much they’re outscoring them by, it’s really not much. That’s because the opportunity is there for every starting QB, and they will be throwing the ball no matter what. I’ll be looking to see if the elite, top-5 potential guys drop a few rounds before I think about drafting them, but we’re only talking Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, and possibly Brees and Russell Wilson. If they don’t drop, then I’ll be waiting until the very end of the draft to pick up these late round QBs because the difference between a 5th round QB and a 10th round QB isn’t that much, while the difference between a skill position in the 5th round (Michael Crabtree, Julian Edelman) and one in the 10th (Cameron Meredith, Corey Coleman) is huge. At the skill position, it’s even a matter of having a guy who’s reliable and someone who’s not. Most QBs are generally reliable. Give me Cousins, Rivers, or Stafford combined with the skill positions I drafted where those early-round QBs were going.
Blount is currently going at the end of the fourth round. He’s going ahead of Martavis Bryant, Jarvis Landry, Michael Crabtree, Ameer Abdullah, and Julian Edelman. That’s kinda crazy to me. Do we really think that Doug Pederson is going to stick to one running back on early downs? We can’t expect a pattern with how they use their running backs. Ryan Mathews is expected to be cut, but they still have Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnell Pumphrey. Do we also think that Blount is going to get anywhere close to the same goal line opportunities he got in New England? Do we think that he’s going to get anywhere close to the same volume he received in New England last year? We don’t think the Eagles are going to be up most games, and then just pound the rock down teams throats in the second half, do we? The Eagles aren’t nearly as potent of an offense as the Patriots are, and don’t have the threat of Tom Brady throwing the ball on any down. Blount will be used, but I don’t see him as a more reliable option than a lot of the guys going around him.
Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Tyler Eifert, Delanie Walker, Martellus Bennett, Hunter Henry
These tight ends are the ones in the middle; these are the non-elite and the ones who should perform, but who knows where they’ll end up. I do expect Olsen, Graham and Eifert to perform close to their usual selves, but I don’t think they are justified at their ADPs with other more reliable and simply higher scoring wide receivers and running backs at that draft position. I don’t like to panic during drafts simply because my bench is filling up while I have a TE slot still empty. Why draft Greg Olsen in the fifth round and a RB/WR flier in the later rounds when I can grab Kyle Rudolph in the late eighth or Zach Ertz in the tenth along with a Fitzgerald, Crowder, or Abdullah back in the fifth in PPR? The latter sounds like a better combination to me; it’s a similar argument I made above for not drafting the middling QBs. If I’m not getting one of the elite, I’ll take the back-end tight ends because the difference between the mid-level tight end and a tight end I can get in the tenth round isn’t much compared to the difference between those two ADPs at running back and wide receiver.