Amari Cooper went from potential third-year breakout in 2017 to a third-year disaster, and he's looking to rebuild his Fantasy value this season. His new coach, Jon Gruden, plans to build the passing game around Cooper and has compared him to Hall of Famer (and former Raider) Tim Brown. Gruden said Cooper will be "the main vein of our passing offense," and you should expect Cooper to see plenty of targets. Cooper had eight games last season with at least six targets, and he scored at least eight Fantasy points in a standard league in four of those outings. Cooper should at least get back to his production from his first two seasons when he had at least 72 catches, 1,070 yards and five touchdowns each year, and he's worth drafting no later than Round 5 in the majority of leagues. Cooper still has top-10 upside entering the 2018 season despite his struggles last year.
Cooper (hamstring) retook the field during Tuesday's OTA session, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. Cooper had been sidelined since the first day of OTAs on May 22 because of the hamstring issue, but it appears he has cleared enough hurdles that the team will allow the fourth-year wideout to retake the field. Coming off a career-worst output (48 receptions, 680 receiving yards) during 2017, Cooper hopes to return to the forefront in 2018. If he can stay healthy, there's no reason the wideout -- entering his age-24 season -- shouldn't challenge the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards for the third time.
Cooper will face added competition for Derek Carr's attention after the Raiders traded for Martavis Bryant, Doug Williams of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. New head coach Jay Gruden has been adamant that Cooper will be the focal point of the passing attack, but while the addition of Bryant shouldn't alter that plan, it does mean there's a bit more competition for targets than previously expected. Bryant and Jordy Nelson both have impressive track records in the red zone, an area where Cooper struggled to make an impact prior to last season. Of course, his career-high touchdown total (seven in 14 games) was negated by massive dropoffs in receptions (48), targets (96) and receiving yards (680), with the 2015 first-round pick failing to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his three pro seasons. The Raiders nonetheless made the fairly obvious decision to pick up Cooper's fifth-year option, ensuring that he'll be under team control through 2019 even if he doesn't sign an extension before next offseason. Cooper will turn 24 in June, and the fifth-year option is guaranteed for injury only.
The Raiders picked up Cooper's fifth-year option Sunday, Josina Anderson of ESPN reports. It's no surprise that the Raiders will bring back their top receiver for another season, even if he struggled in 2017. Cooper posted back-to-back, 1,000-yard seasons to begin his NFL career, but he only accrued 48 catches for 680 yards in 14 games in 2017. The arrival of Jordy Nelson could help keep some focus off Cooper and hopefully allow him to reach the 1,000-yard mark again.
Raiders coach Jon Gruden recently compared Cooper to Tim Brown, saying he expects the 23-year-old wideout to be "the main vein of our passing offense", Scott Bair of NBC Bay Area reports. "[Cooper] has to get healthy and stay healthy," Gruden said. "We need him to be the player he was the first two years. I've said it earlier. We're going to make him the main vein of our passing offense and move him around a lot." Gruden was talking up Cooper in a similar manner back in February before the team swapped out Michael Crabtree for Jordy Nelson. The continued praise hints Nelson will be a clear No. 2 to Cooper's No. 1, with the 2015 first-round pick likely noticing an uptick on his career marks of 4.4 catches and 7.8 targets per game. Crabtree led the team in targets each of the past three seasons, holding a slight advantage over Cooper every year. Even if the increased role doesn't come to fruition in a major way, Cooper at least figures to bounce back from a nightmare, injury-plagued 2017 campaign. On a less optimistic note, Gruden's comments do hint the young wideout has dealt with some lingering effects from last year's ankle injury this offseason, though there hasn't been any report of surgery or a major rehab process.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Wednesday that Cooper will be "the focal point" of the team's offense in 2018, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. "He has tremendous quickness. He's smart, versatile and he's a gamer," Gruden said of Cooper. "He likes the bright lights, and he'll be the headliner in our offense." During Cooper's first three NFL seasons, he and Michael Crabtree have largely acted as co-No. 1 receivers with both players tallying similar statistics, but Gruden's comments suggest the target share could tilt much more favorably in Cooper's direction during the upcoming campaign. While the Raiders plan to retain Crabtree in 2018, he'll turn 31 in September and is bound for free agency next spring, so the Raiders have plenty incentive to ensure that Cooper is up for handling heavier volume in the passing game. The prospect of increased targets -- even if starting quarterback Derek Carr fails to show much progression under Gruden's tutelage -- makes Cooper an appealing commodity coming off a disappointing season in which he supplied 48 catches for 680 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/11||Los Angeles Rams||11||18.47|
|5||10/07||@Los Angeles Chargers||7||17.00|
|9||11/02||@San Francisco 49ers||23||20.38|
|10||11/11||Los Angeles Chargers||7||17.00|
|13||12/02||Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
|17||12/30||@Kansas City Chiefs||30||23.35|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||119||68||968||6||40||14.24||134|