Cooks goes from being a 1-1A receiver
in New Orleans to being a potential No.3 in New England.
Back in 1984 Rod Stewart released the album “Camolague”.
On it was a little track called “Some Guys Have All the
Luck”, and it’s the song that’s been buzzing
around my head since the blockbuster trade involving Brandin Cooks
to the Patriots went down on Friday. Cooks, the fourth-year player
from Oregon State, goes from catching passes from one hall of
Famer in Drew Brees, to the possible GOAT and reigning Super Bowl
MVP in Tom Brady. So while I’m fairly confident Stewart
didn’t have Cooks in mind when he penned that song, it’s
certainly fits the situation.
The Saints made Cooks their first round pick in 2014, and while
the end of season numbers don’t jump off the page (53-550-3),
consider that those totals came in only ten games. Make no mistake,
Cooks has been a big part of the offense the day he took the field
for New Orleans. His sophomore campaign was dynamic, as he went
off for an 84-1140-9 line, good enough to finish as fantasy’s
No.12 overall receiver in standard leagues. There was a slight
statistical regression, and some consistency issues last year,
but Cooks actually rose to the No.8 overall receiver when the
season finally came to an end.
I guess the biggest question is, why would the Saints move a great
player entering the prime of his career? The answer lies somewhere
between money and attitude. After a triple zero line in Week 12
against the Rams, Cooks was very vocal about his role on the offense.
There were rumors that Cooks wanted out and with the ascendance
of rookie Michael
Thomas eating into his looks, from the Saints perspective,
he was becoming expendable. The New Orleans front office knows
that their competitive window is closing along with Brees’s career,
and flipping a position of strength for an area of need actually
makes plenty of sense. They will nearly recoup the value of Cooks’s
original draft position, and can avoid the big payday he was sure
to ask for after his rookie contract expires. Basically they took
a page out of the New England personnel playbook.
Speaking of the Pats, what does his acquisition mean for the offense,
and more importantly, his fantasy value? Well clearly there is
no drop-off in quarterback play. Cooks fits the mold of receiver
this offense covets. He’s quick, and precise in his routes,
but at the same time has big play potential despite his 5’9’’
frame. He’s suddenness out of his breaks, and had great
chemistry with Brees were his strengths and things I expect to
continue with Brady.
He’s an outstanding talent and fit for this offense, but
I wonder just how big of a role he will play. The Patriot offense
morphs from week to week, and Cook’s spot in the rotation
remains uncertain. With Rob Gronkowski back healthy, and Julian Edelman being a fixture, Cooks goes from being a 1-1A receiver
in New Orleans to being a potential No.3 in New England. Knowing
how the Patriots do business with an eye to the future, this feels
like a move more for 2018 than 2017. Granted, Cooks is an immediate
upgrade on Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan, and a hedge bet for
the health of Gronk, but I have a sneaky suspicion this trade
was made with Edelman’s contract ending next offseason.
Their games are very similar, but Cooks is seven years younger
than Edelman, and come contract time makes for a much better investment.
In the short term, I see a regression for Cooks’s fantasy
value. With Gronk and Edelman healthy, and a duo of solid pass
catching backs on the roster, I’m having a hard time finding
100 targets for Cooks, the threshold I believe he’ll need
to reach to have a hope at repeating his WR1 finish. I think it’s
more likely he ends up as a decent WR2 that occasionally breaks
out when he’s a big part of the game plan.