In maybe the least shocking news of the day, the Oakland Raiders have traded wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Dallas Cowboys for a first round pick:
Cowboys traded a first-round pick to Raiders for WR Amari Cooper, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 22, 2018
I say “least shocking news of the day” because Jon Gruden has been hell-bent on tanking this Raiders team since he became their head coach and the only person dumb enough to give up a first round pick for a year and a half of Amari Cooper would be Jerry Jones. And shocker, it all went as planned.
Now that Cooper is out of Oakland—and let me for the record say that I am SO happy he is—it’s natural to think that this is the start of his fantasy renaissance. He’ll finally be able to thrive and reach his fullest fantasy potential outside of the confides of Gruden’s offense.
Unfortunately, I’m here to tell you not to get your hopes up.
Sure Cooper is a good receiver and given that the Cowboys have seriously lacked anyone to reliably catch the ball, he’s likely to see a more consistent workload in Dallas than what he saw in Oakland. (That being said, Cooper can’t even reliably catch the ball as only he and Dez Bryant last year had a drop rate above 12%.) However, don’t think that Cooper suddenly is going to be posting WR1 numbers and a guy who comes out of nowhere to win you your fantasy league.
Since Dak Prescott took over as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback in 2016, the team hasn’t had a wide receiver finish in the top 20 at the position in fantasy. That’s not exactly what you want to see when you’re hoping for Cooper to turn around his season. (Table via FFstatistics.com)
Cowboy WR fantasy rankings
Even more than just past numbers, Prescott has been far from great this season. He’s completing only 62.2% of his passes so far this season and is averaging just above 200 yards passing per game. And I mean just above. The exact number is 202. Compare that to Cooper’s old quarterback Derek Carr who, while also struggling this season, has been completing a much healthier 71% of his passes and almost tossing 300 yards per week. The other damning comparison is pass attempts; Carr is averaging 38.8 attempts per game while Prescott is averaging 29.4. That’s almost ten less passes per game for Cooper to catch balls on.
I’m sure the Cowboys will pass the ball a little more now that they have more talent in their receiving core, but I’m not so sure this is going to be the magical turnaround for Amari we all wanted a trade to be. I would have loved to have seen him end up in an offense like Indianapolis where Andrew Luck has been slinging the ball all over the place. But alas, I can’t control the NFL. Only when I’m playing Madden.
Let’s hope I’m wrong and Jason Garrett can get this passing game humming in no time flat. But who honestly believes he’ll be able to do that?