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Brandin Cooks's 2017 Fantasy Outlook

One of the toughest players to judge entering 2017 is Patriots WR Brandin Cooks. Even ESPN fantasy analysts Field Yates and Matthew Berry can't come to an agreement on Cooks. According to Yates - Cooks is a "borderline top 10 play." Berry, on the other hand, doesn't believe Cooks is a WR1, stating "Cooks makes the Patriots and Tom Brady much better from a NFL point of view, but for Cooks' fantasy value? Not so much" and we need to pay attention to his home and road splits.

In this argument, I side with Berry. Cooks is currently going at the 27th spot, or WR11. In his three years, he's finished as WR57, WR12, and WR8. While I do like the consistent improvement, he's entering an entire different situation in New England. Pretty much the only similarity is a HOF QB, going from Drew Brees to Tom Brady.
Brandin Cooks Fantasy Football
Clutch Factor via Bob Lung's 2017
Fantasy Football Consistency Guide

The glaring issue is the amount of targets in New England, and the weather/playing conditions. Cooks has alarming home and road splits, and these cannot be taken lightly, as New England will play just one game indoors during the entire 2017 season.

For his career, Cooks has seen a 25 percent dip in production when at home versus on the road. We already saw that Kenny Stills needed time to adjust to an outdoor stadium, and he went to sunny Miami, Florida!

While everyone views New England as a fantasy WR's dream spot, this is simply not the case. New Orleans passed the ball over 10% more of the time than New England did. New England has also not had a top 10 fantasy WR since Wes Welker back in 2011. Another huge mistake people are making is comparing Brandin Cooks to Randy Moss. This is not the case, AT ALL. Moss is 6 inches taller and weighs 25 more pounds. They are two different types of deep threats. Cooks, unlike Moss, is not the WR you can just throw a deep ball to and hope he comes down with it.

From Bob Lung's 2017 Fantasy Football Consistency Guide on Brandin Cooks:

After a couple of very inconsistent seasons, Cooks finally “broke out” last year with a 75% Clutch Rate, which ranked him seventh. However, this offseason, he went to the Patriots. Many Fantasy experts saw this as a great thing. I disagree. Rarely has a deep receiver in New England been consistent. Julian Edelman is Brady’s favorite, so Cooks’ inconsistency figures to return.
Finally, New England already has a lot of targets. Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Dwayne Allen, James White and Rex Burkhead are all expected to see targets. However, there is definitely optimism for Cooks. He's obviously one of the best deep ball receivers in the league, and Tom Brady owned the third highest Pro Football Focus grade on deep balls. If Cooks DOES end up like Moss, however, that's a scary site. Moss's peak season with New England, 2007, saw him score 287 fantasy points, the most by a WR this century. In my opinion, the Cooks acquisition will make a larger real-life impact than in fantasy football. The upside is definitely there, but I think Brandin Cooks is slightly less valuable than his current ADP (WR11).

We ranked Cooks as the 15th WR in our initial rankings.

Gregg Sussman and Frank Stampfl are taking a look at the AFC East for a Fantasy Football perspective. (37:35 for Brandin Cooks chatter)

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