For the second season in a row, Brandin Cooks will have a new home after he was traded from New England to the Rams in April, one year after he was traded from New Orleans to the Patriots. He will now try to have his fourth consecutive season with at least 65 catches, 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns, and he's done that with some elite quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Jared Goff is a downgrade from those guys, but hopefully he can keep Cooks playing at a high level. Our expectation is Cooks will be a direct replacement for Sammy Watkins, who left the Rams as a free agent for the Chiefs. Watkins wasn't a huge contributor for the Rams in 2017, but he did lead them in touchdowns with eight. He also added 39 catches for 593 yards on 70 targets, which was well behind Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp in those categories. Cooks loses value with this move, and Woods and Kupp should have a higher ceiling, even if Cooks scores more touchdowns. Cooks should be viewed as a low-end No. 2 Fantasy receiver at best, but he's likely better served as a No. 3 option. He should be drafted after Round 5 in the majority of leagues.
Cooks signed a five-year extension with the Rams on Tuesday, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com reports. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the new contract is worth $80 million and will run through 2023. An extension has long been expected, with the Rams apparently quite confident Cooks will be a better fit than Sammy Watkins in head coach Sean McVay's offensive system. The speedy wideout does have the look of a safe investment, considering he'll turn 25 in September and hasn't missed a game or fallen shy of 1,000 yards since his 2014 rookie season. The possibility of Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods challenging for the team target lead is probably the biggest concern for prospective fantasy owners, though the wealth of weapons will also prevent defenses from overplaying Cooks, who should then be able to take advantage with long gains. He's unlikely to thrive without the help of frequent big plays, as only 11 of his 27 career receiving touchdowns have come on snaps inside the red zone.
Cooks (groin) participated in June minicamp, Myles Simmins of the Rams' official website reports. Cooks missed an OTA session in late May with a minor groin injury but apparently made a fast recovery. Acquired in an April trade with New England, the 24-year-old wideout still hasn't signed a contract extension, something that's expected to happen before Week 1. While he should get plenty of deep looks in 2018, Cooks' overall target volume could drop off from its range the past three seasons (114 to 129) in an offense that also features Todd Gurley, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Unlike Sammy Watkins last year, Cooks has the benefit of spending a full offseason with his new team.
Cooks did not participate in Tuesday's OTAs due to a minor groin issue, Rich Hammond of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Given the condition of the injury, it's quite possible the Rams held their offseason acquisition out of Tuesday's session to ensure the work doesn't result in a long-term concern. Assuming it remains a minor issue, Cooks should slot into Sammy Watkins' vacated spot as the deep threat this season. He will work opposite Robert Woods with Cooper Kupp occupying the slot, providing quarterback Jared Goff with a trio of capable wideouts to target. Cooks has topped 1,000 yards in each of the last three seasons and should be in a good spot to challenge that number again in 2018.
The Rams plan on signing Cooks to a contract extension before Week 1, Steve Wyche of NFL Network reports. Los Angeles agreed Tuesday to acquire the wideout and a 2018 fourth-round pick from the Patriots in exchange for first- and sixth-round picks in 2018. It would be an awful lot for the Rams to give up for a one-year rental with an $8.46 million salary, but the deal starts to make sense if Cooks is viewed as part of the club's long-term plan. While the speedy receiver may have been a slight disappointment in New England last season, he's only 24 years old and is coming off three straight 16-game campaigns with at least 1,082 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Cooks profiles as the likely No. 1 receiver in Los Angeles, though the same was said of Sammy Watkins, who ultimately served as a low-volume decoy in his lone season with the Rams. Cooks should see an uptick from Watkins' 2017 total of 70 targets, but his accustomed volume -- 120-target average the past three years -- is far from a sure thing. The Rams also need to feed Todd Gurley, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, their top three pass catchers from last season. Cooks may end up disappointed with how much time he spends clearing out space for his teammates.
The Patriots are slated to trade Cooks to the Rams along with a fourth-round draft pick for first- and sixth-round draft choices, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. With Cooks sent packing after just one season with New England, Julian Edelman (knee) and Chris Hogan now top the Patriots' wideout depth chart, while Cooks slots in as the Rams' top option at the position. Cooks, who finished the 2017 regular season with 65 catches (on 114 targets) for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 games, will now be catching passes from Jared Goff instead of Tom Brady. Though Brady is the more productive of the two signal-callers, Cooks' new team context (in terms of competition for targets) should ensure a rate of volume conducive to continued fantasy relevance in 2018.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|3||09/23||Los Angeles Chargers||7||17.00|
|7||10/22||@San Francisco 49ers||23||20.38|
|8||10/28||Green Bay Packers||32||24.13|
|9||11/04||@New Orleans Saints||20||20.00|
|11||11/20||Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
|17||12/30||San Francisco 49ers||23||20.38|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||120||76||1131||8||44||14.88||163|