Over the last week or so, the NFL’s wild offseason appeared to be settling down. Well, it wasn’t. The Patriots and Rams just shook things up with a blockbuster trade that sends WR Brandin Cooks and a fourth-round pick to Los Angeles in exchange for the 23rd overall pick and a sixth-round selection in next month’s draft.
Cooks’ departure from New England certainly frees up some targets in a crowded Patriots’ receiver corps. He was the lone Patriots wideout to top 100 targets last season, but that was of course with Julian Edelman sidelined. Edelman figures to slot back in as the top target among the wide receivers with Chris Hogan as the “second option,” though he’ll be behind Rob Gronkowski in the pecking order.
Provided he can stay healthy, Edelman has the potential to offer solid PPR value. He’s currently coming off the board as a late-round pick, though fantasy drafters should expect his ADP to steadily rise throughout the offseason. But he was already in that range even with Cooks in-house. Really, Hogan is the biggest winner out of the New England wideouts. He goes from essentially a deep-league-only option to a player who is worthy of WR3 consideration. Let’s not forget that over the first five weeks of the 2017 season only A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins, and Stefon Diggs had more fantasy points than Hogan.
In Los Angeles, Cooks will be paired up with an ascending quarterback in Jared Goff and gets to play in Sean McVay’s explosive offense. However, like in New England, there’s a somewhat crowded house in the Rams’ receiver room. Cooks will compete for targets with Robert Woods, who is coming off a breakout year, and Cooper Kupp, who had one of the best seasons among last year’s rookie receivers.
It’s tough to call this move an upgrade for Cooks’ fantasy stock. Woods still figures to be the top target of the group, with all three receivers at or near the 100-target range. Where he may have been considered a WR2-plus in New England, Cooks is now best viewed as a WR3 with weekly boom-or-bust capability given the volume he now projects to see in a Rams uniform. That being said, Cooks will be just 25 years old this season, so he remains an appealing long-term option in dynasty leagues.