*Put this together quickly because it contains suggested fantasy advice to act on ASAP, for some. Forgive any typos, etc.
Never a dull moment in the NFL, suddenly. Someone informed Rams GM Les Snead that it was OK to make trades in the NFL after what seemed like an eternity of no real football trades – and he’s gone to town wheeling and dealing. I think this is more Sean McVay is pushing the envelope and Snead is the carrying out the details, but that’s besides the point.
I think this trade has ripple effects for two other wide receivers…in moves to come, one which will steal the headlines – and that is the looming Odell Beckham trade.
Let’s look at the deal, it’s ripple effects for several teams, and the fantasy implications…
For the Rams…
The Rams are playing for the Super Bowl right now…they have a 1-2 year window with ‘cheap’ Jared Goff and Todd Gurley before they have to back up a Brinks Truck on them…and won’t be able to afford expensive one-year things like Cooks-Suh-Tailb, etc., that they’ve been accumulating all 2018.
I have been crowing about the favorable betting odds of taking out a ticket on the Rams winning the Super Bowl for months…now, the wager just got even better. It’s silly that the Rams aren’t right there with the Eagles for the Vegas odds for coming out of the NFC to win it all. This move should push them past Minnesota and Green Bay (who’ve stayed ahead of them in the Super Bowl odds all year), but probably not. Vegas and the fans have been slow reacting on the Rams all 2017 and so far in 2018.
Yesterday, the Rams needed two things to further push their big run in 2018 – a game-breaking WR and a fresh starting ILB. Now, scratch one of those from the list. The 2018 NFL Draft does not have a ‘speedster’ WR as good as Brandin Cooks…not in talent and certainly not in experience. The Rams fill a desire here and don’t really give up anything besides ‘potential’ with the draft pick. Cooks is better for them in terms of 2018 than any single player they could’ve taken in this draft.
The most lethal offense in the NFL exchanges empty/overrated Sammy Watkins for terrific, professional Brandin Cooks…the best offense in the NFL just got dramatically better, at almost no cost.
Jared Goff gains a superior weapon to go along with another year of experience with Sean McVay. The Rams were already the top offense in the NFL…now, they’re even better. Goff should’ve been ranked higher in fantasy 2018 before this…now, he gets another bump. People still don’t really believe in Goff. They’ll forget about this deal in a week or two/by the draft and Goff will flop back to barely a top 10 guy among QBs in most fantasy rankings. He is arguably positioned for a run as the #1 QB for fantasy in a six-points per passing TD league (especially if yardage bonuses).
My ”Robert Woods is the #1 WR on the #1 offense in the NFL” mantra…it takes a small hit. I still believe Woods will lead the team in targets and catches…Cooks to lead in yards and long TDs. Woods will thrive again as he falls back into the perfect role…he’ll be the main target guy who won’t draw the top defensive coverage, just like last year when Watkins drew most of the attention. Woods’s fantasy value drops in the universe on this news…and I’ll buy all your discounted stock, as I have been in dynasty and MFLs. 100+ catches, 1,000+ yards and 8+ TDs for a 16-game Woods with Goff. Woods is the quality WR/silent assassin in a high efficiency offense.
Jared Goff’s brilliant deep ball skills + Brandin Cooks top 3-5 best deep ball WR skills = Cooks as a WR1 threat again. More so in non-PPR. Cooks 4-5 catches a game for 80+ yards every other game and long TD every other game is likely coming. 70+ catches, 1,000+ yards, 10+ TDs.
The fantasy loser in this is Cooper Kupp. He becomes a distant third in the WR pecking order. A nice WR to have on the field for an NFL team. Nice output games here and there. A week-to-week random WR3-WR4 lost in the Cooks-Woods shuffle.
Todd Gurley is a minor loser in that there will be more passing game action and subsequently less running game tallies, in theory. He’s still a strong RB1. Teams will be hard-pressed to stack the box against the Rams because they are developing the best passing game in the NFL.
For the Patriots…
I almost speculated-typed in my daily notes yesterday that the Patriots’ Jordan Matthews interest made no sense unless they were trading Brandin Cooks. I typed it…and then deleted it because I didn’t think the Pats would trade Cooks after a year considering how well he fit in, but the reason I thought it was possible was because Cooks is an expensive thing and going to be even more expensive in free agency next year…the kinda asset Belichick trades hot before it gets too expensive/not worth it compared to what else he can do.
Now, it all makes sense.
I think the next thing you’ll see is the Patriots signing Jordan Matthews…and that’s going to be super-smart because Matthews is one of the most underrated WR talents in the NFL. Hogan-Matthews-Edelman with Malcolm Mitchell in development along with them. A healthy Matthews may become a semi-star in New England. Go look at what he did at Vandy, an all-time SEC leader in several categories in a garbage offense…and then go look at his first two NFL season before he got hurt.
If you believe Matthews is a potential star/quality WR, and that they’re about to sign him, as I do…then the Patriots made a savvy deal here. They essentially trade Cooks for Matthews + a 1st round pick. Matthews will be much cheaper than Cooks payroll-wise and the #23 overall pick has worth to use or to trade.
In fantasy-dynasty, go get Jordan Matthews as quietly as you can as fast as you can…because if I’m right, this could be the great, cheap move of the 2018 offseason for you.
Arizona knew they lost Matthews to elsewhere, thus the Brice Butler signing yesterday. Matthews probably had a keep-quiet deal with the Pats predicated on this trade going down. Arizona got tired of waiting…now they know why Matthews was dragging his feet going there.
The Patriots don’t miss a beat here because they really didn’t use Cooks to his fullest as it was. Tom Brady is needing professional WRs who work in the short and medium timing game. He’s got them in spades for 2018 with Matthews joining and Malcolm Mitchell returning. ‘Stock up’ for Mitchell in fantasy at the moment.
FYI, Gronk isn’t going anywhere.
The Patriots-Rams Super Bowl is just about locked in for this next January.
Erase all that Jordan Matthews talk if this was a move to allow the Patriots to have two #1 picks to dump on the Giants for Odell Beckham Jr.
For Odell Beckham Jr.
I believe the Rams inquired about Odell Beckham Jr. first. The Giants wanted too much compared to what they just poached Cooks for.
The Giants just lost their best suitor…the one team with the guts to make big-name trades. Now, the Giants have to scramble looking for OBJ trade partners.
I don’t believe the Patriots are serious players because they would likely never spend a massive amount of payroll on Beckham going forward. The Pats might ‘rent’ him for the year and then franchise tag him 2019 if he’s awesome in 2018, but if Belichick is supposedly worried about Gronk’s off-the-field focus…Odell Beckham brings a whole new set of issues. However, this could be a bit of a Randy Moss moment…do the Pats take a whirl on the most talented WR in the NFL? They’d want him to play on his existing deal, and I don’t think OBJ wants that, so hard to see them getting together here. It’s not improbable.
The Saints move up to become the #1 most likely destination for OBJ in a trade. The Rams keep pushing further away from the Saints/the rest of the NFC. Drew Brees isn’t getting any younger. OBJ played at LSU/he’s got some Louisiana ties.
OBJ to New Orleans with Drew Brees would send OBJ’s fantasy projections into orbit and undercut Michael Thomas drastically.
We can judge this trade on today…a win for the Rams. However, the next two shoes to drop would make it a win for the Pats as well (if they sign Jordan Matthews) and then an OBJ trade really shakes up the universe again. I think this Cooks-Rams deal is just the first in a series of WR dominoes to fall. What happens (or doesn’t) with Jordan Matthews the next 24-48 hours is the next chapter of this story.
-- R.C. Fischer
See more of our football work at College Football Metrics – dedicated to the NFL Draft and Dynasty Rookie Draft scouting and valuations all preseason. Celebrating our 7th season covering all things draft. Go to (link): College Football Metrics
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