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The fantasy football stock for New England Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks changed drastically on Friday night when fellow wideout Julian Edelman tore his ACL. It’s brutal news for Edelman and the Patriots, and it should cause a bit of a shift to the team’s offensive gameplan.
While Cooks was already expected to be a big part of the Patriots offense, with Edelman now suffering that injury, it should result in Cooks taking on an even larger role. So with the news of his injury, one question that has to linger is what it’ll mean exactly for Cooks from a fantasy standpoint. Obviously, his stock increases, but when should you be considering taking the former New Orleans Saints wideout?
We’re going to take a look at when you should draft Cooks, as well as what type of statistical production he may be in for during his first season with the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
*Before diving in, note that this is based on 12-team leagues with standard rosters and point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.
When to Draft Brandin Cooks
Consensus: Late second round
Realistically, I think Cooks could probably be an early third-round draft pick, but if I’m picking late in the second round, I probably wouldn’t want to wait for my pick to loop back around in the third round. If you want Cooks, take him in the late second and hope whoever else you’re targeting is available a few picks later.
The key reason for this is due to the fact that Cooks has a tremendous upside, both for big plays and to become the focal point of the passing attack, right next to Rob Gronkowski. Cooks was explosive over his last two seasons with the Saints, tallying over 1,100 yards each year and 17 combined touchdowns in those two seasons. He also had an average of 15 yards per reception, so he can really stretch the field for the Patriots also.
If I’m betting on any player to take over a good chunk of Edelman’s touches, it’d be Cooks. While Chris Hogan could see a nice boost as well, Cooks becomes a potential top-tier WR1 in fantasy football, which you can’t pass on at this point in your draft.
Statistical Predictions for Cooks in 2017
With a player like Cooks who has big-play potential anytime he touches the ball, it can be hard to predict his production, especially on a new team. The Patriots certainly have no issue when it comes to airing it out, but Brady also loves to spread the ball around quite a bit. Last season, the Patriots had seven players with at least 23 receptions and five with at least 32 receptions on the year.
With that said, the Patriots are losing 98 receptions from Edelman, and it’s a safe assumption that Cooks could take a few other targets and receptions as well. On that same note, Cooks had 84 and 78 receptions over the past two seasons, but we’ll take him to top those two numbers.
Let’s roll with Cooks to finish the 2017 regular season with 90 receptions for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns. That certainly places him in the WR1 zone and should make him a great late second-round draft pick.