Last week’s question: What’s a
fair trade for Amari Cooper?
In my column for Week 8,
I suggested that Amari
Cooper’s unexpected move to Dallas made him almost impossible
to value for trade purposes. Clearly, I was wrong to assume that
this would prevent trades from happening, as I heard from plenty
of readers about trades that were accepted (not just proposed) shortly
after he left the Raiders.
Most of the trades had Cooper as part of a package deal, but only
two 1-for-1 swaps came to my attention. The first (short and sweet)
involved Jim, who was able to get Cooper for Ronald Jones in a league
that requires 3 running backs. (Jones wasn’t injured at the
time of the trade.)
The second 1-for-1 swap of Cooper for Trey Burton came with a bit
of a storyline from Michael, who captures the agony of owning Cooper:
I (regrettably) drafted Amari in our 10-team .5 ppr league. I
got lucky and managed to start him for his two great games and
bench him for the rest, but I was tired of having him take up
a valuable bench spot. And tired of agonizing over whether I could
keep my luck going by successfully picking any blowup games he
had left this year.
After he was traded to Dallas, I figured it was the time to make
something happen. Coming out of week 7, I am in first place in
the league with a 6-1 record. I’m strong everywhere (lineup
below), but TE had been a constant black hole in my lineup. I
drafted Evan Engram, and then used Jared Cook during Engram’s
injury and basically got nothing out of him (missed his two blowup
games). After Engram returned from injury in week 7, he posted
a 2-catch stinker for 3.6 fantasy points in my starting lineup.
I also happened to catch about five minutes of the NYG game on
tv, and what I saw was discouraging: Eli and Engram clearly miscommunicating
on a route in the flat, and Eli showing explicit exasperation
with Engram. I decided I was done with the Giants offense, and
I wanted to be done with the Raiders’ tanking offense. So,
I approached an owner in my league who had drafted Travis Kelce
and has been reaping the rewards all season. He had Trey Burton
sitting on his bench, and at 4-3, the obvious whole in his lineup
was WR. His two starting receivers are Jarvis Landry and Tyler Boyd. So he was willing to give up Burton for Cooper’s upside
in hopes that Amari would turn it on in Dallas (personally, I
have no faith in that happening). I was happy to rid myself of
Cooper and be able to start Burton every week from here on out
(Burton’s floor looks solid and his bye week is in the rearview
mirror). Even swap: Cooper for Burton.
I then dropped Evan Engram and picked up Tre’Quan Smith
off the waiver wire. I have more confidence in Smith becoming
a reliable starter with a high ceiling for the fantasy playoffs
than I had in Cooper being a reliable starter. So, win-win for
me: with the waiver transaction and the trade, I swapped Amari
Cooper and Evan Engram for Trey Burton and Tre-Quan Smith.
My week 8 starting lineup: Mahomes; Conner; Mixon; Hopkins; Sanders;
Burton; Chubb; NE D/ST; Butker
The way that Engram & Cook & Burton played in Week 8
was a cruel joke on Michael, who sent me a follow up note on the
subject, but it doesn’t change the outcome of his trade
(which could very easily work out more favorably for him than
for the new Cooper owner).
There isn’t room to include every package deal that readers
mentioned involving Cooper, but the examples from Chris, Jason,
and Eric are representative. Chris acquired both Cooper and Mitch
Trubisky for Nick Chubb in his PPR 2RB 2WR Flex league. Jason
traded Cooper and Ian Thomas for O.J. Howard and Quincy Enunwa
in a league with 18 active players on 40-man rosters with 2 starting
TEs. Eric dealt both Cooper and Kenyan Drake for Mohamed Sanu
and Le’Veon Bell. (“Hopefully it works out!”
he added.) It will definitely work out for someone. Time will
tell who that is.
The most striking package deal came from AP’s league, which
does not require owners to start a TE:
I am in a league where WR and TE are interchangeable. We basically
have to start 3 Receivers of any type. Half Point PPR.
I went heavy RB in my draft and when the time came for receivers
I ended up with choosing TE’s because they seemed more valuable
and consistent compared to the WR’s left. So I got Kelce,
Gronk and Rudolph. I’ve since replaced Rudolph with Kittle.
I have no good WR’s to speak of - my “best two”
are D. Westbrook and K. Cole, both part of the dumpster fire that
I also heard from some folks involved in Cooper trades before
he became a Cowboy. Greg traded Corey Clement & Mike Williams
for Cooper & Phillip Lindsay in Week 6. Jason traded Cooper
and Demaryius Thomas (before either was traded in the NFL) for
Josh Gordon and Allen Hurns. If you’re wondering why anyone
would trade for Hurns, Jason mentioned that he only cared about
Gordon and was “ready to drop both [Cooper & Thomas]
anyway” because of the frustration that came with not knowing
when to start them.
Cooper’s tendency to boom or bust didn’t keep Francisco
from scooping him off waivers even though he had to drop his kicker
to create enough roster space. “So far every kicker I've
picked up has performed lousy no matter who or what he's done
previously, so I'm fine running without a K,” he wrote.
A reader named Clancularius mentioned that he had “just
proposed DJ for Fournette to someone” in his league. So
that swap apparently makes sense in multiple contexts. However,
another reader (Chris) was less enthusiastic:
Now [Fournette] is going to split time with Carlos Hyde and T.J. Yeldon. So he's not getting 20 carries. Its likely Fournette now
gets 12-15 touches a game with Hyde getting 8-10 and Yeldon getting
5-6. DJ could actually become very productive with Leftwich as
the OC. I hate this trade.
Right or wrong, at least Chris knows where he stands.
Thanks to everyone who responded (via comments or email). Sometimes
people are reluctant to make trade offers because they don’t
know where a negotiation could realistically begin. These examples
of real trades involving Cooper (and Fournette) are a great place
This week’s question: Does your
league rate teams before the season begins?
Do any leagues out there go through a formal process of ranking
teams after a draft, such as asking each owner to indicate which
team appears the strongest before the season begins? Most electronic
drafts get a computerized prediction of a league champion, but
no one takes those seriously. Most leagues also have a guy who
studies all the teams as soon as the draft is over before pronouncing
one team (not always his own) the strongest. Sometimes he is taken
seriously; sometimes not.
But are there any leagues out there that actually require owners
to grade the drafts of their competitors and keep records about
I’m asking on behalf of a reader named Bruce, but this one
really seems like a longshot. (Still, I’m interested to
know, so I appreciate the question.) Please answer by posting
a comment below or emailing
Survivor Pool Picks Trap Game: Bears at Bills
The only double-digit spread of the week has the Bills as 10-point
dogs at home vs. the Bears. But where is the evidence that the
Bears can win on the road? The only road game Chicago has won
all season was a 16-14 squeaker against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Bills are roughly the same level of terrible as the Cardinals,
so why couldn’t Buffalo find its way to the field goal that
Arizona needed against the Bears in Week 3? Sure, Mitch Trubisky
has had an impressive run, but the Bills have a decent defense
that spells regression for the Chicago offense. Avoid.
Pick #3: Raiders over 49ers (7-1; GB, NO, CHI, LAC, CIN, car, TB, IND)
The 49ers host their Bay rivals on Thursday evening. Despite the
untested Nick Mullins starting in relief of C.J. Beathard (who
was already filling in for the long lost Jimmy Garoppolo), San
Francisco is favored by Vegas. That seems to be stretching the
idea of home-field advantage too far, especially with this game
as the last opportunity for Raider fans to “visit”
San Francisco before their franchise relocates to Las Vegas. If
you add Mullins’ inexperience to a rowdy Raider fan base
in San Francisco and throw in how well Derek Carr played last
week without either Beastmode or Amari Cooper, this seems likely
to be a win for Oakland.
Pick #2: Chiefs over Browns (6-2; no, LAC, hou, GB, CAR, MIN, IND, PIT)
With the firing of both Hue Jackson and Todd Haley in Cleveland,
Gregg Williams is suddenly the Browns’ interim head coach.
Sometimes teams respond surprisingly well to midseason shake-ups
like this one, but the question to ask yourself about this game
is whether the Browns have enough talent to keep up with the Chiefs
even if the unexpected coaching change produces the best results
imaginable. My take is that Patrick Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are more than the Browns can handle no
matter how glad the Dawg Pound may be to have the Jackson era
in the rearview mirror.
Pick #1: Cowboys over Titans (7-1; BAL, LAR, min, JAX, NO, GB, LAC, CHI)
Full disclosure: I’m looking at this game through doubly
rose-tinted glasses because I’m both a Texan and an Amari
Cooper owner. To be clear, I’m not a fan of the Cowboys,
but the thing about Texas is that life is better here when Dallas
wins. Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott were winners as rookies back
in 2016, and maybe they can be winners in the second half of 2018
with the addition of Cooper as a legitimate receiving threat to
the most remarkably unremarkable receiving corps in the NFL. Whether
or not Cooper comes through (which I need him to do because of
bye weeks and injuries), the Cowboys should still be able to outscore
a Titans team that has generated only 31 total points in its last
Mike Davis has been writing about fantasy football since 1999--and
playing video games even longer than that. His latest novel (concerning
a gamer who gets trapped inside Nethack after eating too many shrooms)
can be found here.