Dynasty Draft Profile: Amari Cooper
May 1, 2015 | Rich Hribar
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
Few prospects have entered the NFL as decorated as Amari Cooper will be this season. In terms of age weighted production he’s almost unparalleled, amassing 228 receptions for 3,463 yards and 31 receiving touchdowns in arguably the best collegiate conference all before being legally able to purchase his first alcoholic drink (he turns 21 in June). In comparison to the other receiving prospects rivaling Cooper for the top spot in this draft, Kevin White had yet to have a D1 reception until he was 21 and DeVante Parker had 1,543 fewer receiving yards than Cooper before the same age. He was one of the most impressively dominant receivers statistically across the board in 2014. Here’s how he measured against the other 63 receivers in the country that had 100 or more targets last season.
|Team Target Share||39.8%||2|
|Yards Per TGT||10.0||10|
He’s keeping some good company in terms of entering the league coming off of such a statistically dominant season at such a young age. Since giving out production scores in my prospect model dating back to 1999 only four other final seasons from a 20 year old receiver have produced a score on par or just below Cooper’s Heisman finalist 2014 season.
|David Boston||Ohio State||1999||8||12||7.1||119.6||1.1||40%|
|Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||2014||20||13||9.8||133.1||1.2||36%|
*MSYD = % of Team Receiving Yardage
Cooper is anticipated to have a team invest similar draft capital on him this spring that Fitzgerald and Boston had entering the league and Fitzgerald, Boston and Hopkins all produced a top 20 fantasy season before turning 23. Of the 9 rookie receivers selected within the first 10 picks to play at age 21 since 1970, only Reggie Williams and Mike Williams failed to produce a top 30 PPR season in their careers. With the average wide receiver slope beginning to tilt downward at age 27, dynasty owners are looking at a solid 6-8 year window of Cooper in his apex of production.
Physically, Cooper confirmed nearly everything you see from him on tape at the NFL Combine. At 6’1” and 211 pounds he’s got enough size to be productive inside and outside, but he’s not built to be physically imposing like many lead receivers in the league today. His explosion totals (vertical and broad jump) are also pedestrian for a lead receiver and lend themselves into what you see from him being able to routinely make contested catches and play with a ruthlessness of a bigger player.
The lack of pizzazz type plays is often the biggest critique of Cooper. That may eventually keep him with more a WR1(b) ceiling than an elite WR1 on a team and make him more of a top 20 fantasy receiver that flirts with seasons of top 12 production. While from a height and weight standpoint he measures up closely and is often compared to Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins, he doesn’t show the vertical ball skills of Hopkins or the running back-like after the catch ability of Watkins. In the end, that’s just not the apex of his game and it showed up in measurable form this past weekend.
Instead, Cooper relies on technique and separation that stem from his good speed combined with elite agility. His agility score (20 yard shuttle combined with three cone time) of 10.69 is in rarefied air, ranking in the top 10 for players over 200 pounds and top five for those over 210 pounds. Every player with elite agility uses it in different capacities, and Cooper uses his to win often at the line of scrimmage and creating space within his routes.
The best way to gain quick access to top notch cut ups of players on the internet is from the folks over at Draft Breakdown. With their aid, I have pulled a couple of examples of how Cooper uses his elite agility at the line of scrimmage and where his strong raw straight line speed shows up.
There is debate to be had on whether Cooper has the ceiling of Parker or White in fantasy circles, but with his age weighted production, expected invested draft capital by the team selecting him and strong physical profile, he has the safest fantasy floor of any receiver that can be had in this draft. He arguably has the safest floor of any player available including Todd Gurley when factoring his position and career arc for running backs. It’s not a shocking revelation, but Cooper is a lock as a top four selection in your rookie drafts if not the number one overall pick.
As the first receiver selected in the draft to Oakland, Cooper lands in an immediate spot to soak up lead wide receiver targets. New offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave surely wants to incorporate more power running immediately, but Oakland is still going to be a team that is playing from behind more often than ahead. The Raiders were a team that fed 211 targets to James Jones and Andre Holmes last season and their only addition this offseason was signing Michael Crabtree to a “prove it” contract. Cooper and Crabtree have a little overlap in terms of underneath usage, and both should have a positive effect on Derek Carr improving his 58.1 percent completion rate as a rookie, but Crabtree lacks the lid popping capacity that Cooper has. Carr was better in the intermediate windows as a rookie accuracy wise, but per Pro Football Focus, also had the fifth most pass attempts of 20 yards or more (74) in the league last season and has the arm for those throws, he just lacked strong options to succeed on those throws. With the Raiders incorporating that power run game more often, that should open downfield opportunities for the rookie receiver. Cooper won’t win downfield often as a clasher, but has the separation juice to also be a better vertical target than given credit for. I fully expect him to hit the ground running in the NFL on every level of the defense and will be cemented into my 1.01 ranking for upcoming PPR rookie drafts.
Early 2015 Projection: 113.6 TGT/70.5 REC/866.7 YDS/5.6 TD