News & Analysis

Week 10 Dynasty Risers and Fallers: Brandin Cooks remains undervalued

Oct 18, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks (13) celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Dynasty players often view the regular season as a time for their hard work in the offseason to finally pay off. The 16 weeks of meaningful football from September to December are simply the proving grounds for their trades of aging veterans, draft pick swaps and sneaky additions of training camp standouts.

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And there are still plenty of edges to exploit in the remaining weeks of the regular season. Here are the biggest dynasty risers and fallers ahead of NFL Week 10 and whether you should buy or sell the changing values.

Riser: WR Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans

Unsurprisingly, going from Jared Goff to Deshaun Watson has revived Cooks’ dynasty value in just one offseason. Cooks currently leads the Texans in targets (58) and is second in air yards (646), only 51 behind Will Fuller V. While many expect Fuller to operate as the No. 1 receiver in Houston, Cooks shouldn’t be so easily written off as the top pass-catcher for Watson.

He dominated at Oregon State to the tune of 1,947 yards from scrimmage and 18 scores in his junior season. The Saints then spent first-round draft capital on him, and he broke out in his second NFL season. After his age 25 season in 2018, Cooks had 5,147 receiving yards. That total was the fifth-most in NFL history for a player before turning 26 years old. That put him between DeAndre Hopkins and Amari Cooper on that list. He was a historic player with nothing but an impeccable track record of production to his name. 

Then, last year, Cooks popped up on the injury report with a concussion twice and played for a quarterback who averaged 7.7 air yards per attempt. Cooks has posted an average depth of target below 11.8 yards since his rookie season. 

He’s now healthy and playing for a quarterback who can properly utilize his skill set. Having just turned 27, Cooks easily projects to post multiple WR2 seasons in the coming years as long as Houston holds on to him. Despite recouping some of his lost value through half a season with Houston, he remains underpriced in dynasty leagues. 

Faller: RB J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens

Dobbins came out of Ohio State as a player who checked all of the boxes. He carried the ball 301 times for 2,003 yards and 21 scores while adding at least 20 receptions in all three of his collegiate seasons. He checked all of the boxes on film, as well.

From PFF's Mike Renner’s breakdown of him in the spring, “Dobbins has arguably the best vision in the class. … Dobbins is consistent with his pacing as he approaches the line of scrimmage, and he's decisive with his cuts.” The Ravens affirmed his talent by spending a second-round pick on him in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Since then, things have gone downhill for Dobbins. Even with Mark Ingram sidelined for the past two weeks, Dobbins has not assumed a three-down or even two-down role. He has split carries with Gus Edwards (27-27) evenly. Edwards, who did not have a reception on the year heading into Week 8, also saw just one fewer target than Dobbins (4 to 3) in those two games.

As a runner, Dobbins has shown nothing but excellence. His 3.6 yards after contact per attempt ranks top five (min. 50 carries) among backs. His usage remains the problem. No level of efficiency will get Dobbins to an RB1 season if he continues to split his backfield with Edwards and Ingram, who is expected to return this week.

Dobbins’ unquestionable talent should win out in the long run, so it’s reasonable to buy the dip here. However, it’s not a guarantee that he ever moves beyond operating in a committee. Acquiring Dobbins in dynasty leagues is a high-upside, modest-floor move that is risky but worth the cost.

Riser: RB Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills

After ragging on Dobbins for not getting the bulk of his team’s carries, Moss now gets celebrated for not getting the bulk of his team’s carries. Why? Moss didn’t cost a top-five rookie draft pick to acquire six months ago. The argument here isn’t that Moss is a better dynasty asset than Dobbins. It’s that they are nearly identical. In games they’ve played together, Devin Singletary has the lean as a receiver, but Buffalo has gone with Moss where it counts the most: the red zone.

Player Carries Targets Red Zone Touches
Zack Moss 52 10 17
Devin Singletary 53 21 9

Unlike Dobbins, who has seen five red-zone touches to Edwards’ seven over the past two weeks, Moss already has already locked down the most important role for a fantasy runner to have. Both running backs play for offenses that are putting up points in droves but remain relegated to splitting work with another player. They are both worth chasing the upside for teams that are looking to get ready for the 2021 season.

Moss is simply the better value because most dynasty players are still anchored on their prior that he was a late first-round rookie selection, while Dobbins cost many teams a top-three selection. 

Faller: WR Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

Robinson has now posted his three worst games of the season by targets in consecutive weeks. This is despite Nick Foles attempting 40, 41 and 52 pass attempts in those three games. The reason Robinson didn’t see double-digit targets in any of those contests is the continued ascension of Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney.

Miller looked to be playing a backup role earlier in the year but has now come back to life with 24 targets over his past three games. Mooney has just as many targets in the same group of games. The growth in volume for both young receivers has to come at the expense of a teammate:

  • Robinson Weeks 1-6: 35% air-yard share, 29% target share
  • Robinson Weeks 7-9: 23% air-yard share, 16% target share

The sky is not falling on Robinson, and he should still be projected to be the leading receiver in Chicago by a wide margin. However, the data from his 2019 season may be overinflating his current perception as one of the most heavily targeted wideouts in the league. His competition for volume has increased, and he remains a piece of the Chicago Bears' offense.

Riser: TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

Smith’s value is rising after a two-score game versus Detroit, but fantasy managers should continue to temper their expectations for the second-year tight end. Kyle Rudolph is still averaging more yards per route run than Smith, and his 70.5 offensive grade is far ahead of Smith’s 67.3 mark.

Smith is also averaging just 19.5 routes per game because Rudolph refuses to give up the entirety of the pass-catching role to him. It’s reasonable to expect Smith’s role to keep growing, but the pace of that growth has been underwhelming to this point.

Because of his team’s commitment to running the ball, Smith will need to be an every-down player to consistently produce fantasy points. The rise in his value is warranted, but we could still be a year away from a true breakout from Smith.

Faller: WR Jamison Crowder, New York Jets

Crowder had a quiet game versus the Patriots but salvaged the night with a touchdown. He was coming off a groin injury, and Joe Flacco keyed in on Breshad Perriman beating the New England secondary downfield. It was just one game, and the lacking performance by Crowder likely went unnoticed because of the touchdown. It should raise room for concerns, though.

Crowder posted three 100-yard games to start the year, but none of them came with Denzel Mims and Perriman both on the field. In three games played, Mims has a 25% target share. Perriman’s contests have been split apart by injuries, but he holds a 17% target share. Like Robinson, the previous sample on Crowder seems to have cast an overly positive light on his fantasy outlook. Unlike Robinson, Crowder’s team is set to have a new quarterback and likely a new head coach heading into the 2021 season. Despite the recent downward trend, those factors make Crowder a hold. 

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