We’ve all had our calendars marked for quite some time now, but rest assure Fantasy Football season is here. The mumblings around the office coffee pots across the country has shifted to clever FF league names, sneaky sleepers and draft values.
Before you accept too many league invitations and squander the FF mock draft boards, let’s acknowledge the year-three explosion from Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper.
The Growing Pains
Amari Cooper struggled his rookie season with ten drops on 130 targets; he saw enough targets to dominate, but disappointed at times. During his sophomore campaign, he cleaned up the drops, but then had issues with his feet around the sidelines. The speculation began about his lack of red zone efficiency as he didn’t make much of his targets around the goal line. Late in games, Amari’s role diminished as Michael Crabtree often took the lead playing favorite to Derek Carr in the clutch. Production issues also were damaging when physically coming off the line in jam coverage while seeing help coverage attention over the top. This points to a struggling player, right? Forget about it; Cooper is on the verge of rare statistical history at the wide receiver position.
Even considering well-documented struggles, Cooper has been developing into a star in the league. Only four wide receivers have ever started their first three seasons with 1,000 yards: Randy Moss, A.J. Green, Odell Beckham Jr., and Mike Evans. Cooper will undoubtedly be the fourth on that elite list, maximizing his polished development in an elite offense that can become even better this season.
The acquisitions of punishing pace-back Marshawn Lynch and a much needed aerial tight-end threat in Jared Cook will take away the extra attention from Cooper and Crabtree to operate on the outside vertically. Cook will function in the interior seams of the defense while drawing safety help, and opening up intermediate routes underneath. Lynch demands extra bodies and run blitzes in the box that will create excellent play action looks for Cooper over the top of the defense.
The more isolated looks that Cooper gets, the more production he will equate from his poetic route running, speed and size. Speaking of size, Cooper made it a point to bulk-up this off-season to improve on shedding jam man-coverage in order to use his body to block defenders, operating in smaller red zone windows. He’s put on 7 lbs of muscle; that can go a long way towards facing elite physical AFC West corners such as Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. The dynamic duo of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will improve for the third season in a row as Cooper finally puts it all together while separating himself as the unequivocal star of the two.
2017 FF Prediction:
Amari Cooper makes the jump this season posting career numbers across every major statistical category. Amari is a can’t miss WR #1 in all FF league formats. Cooper will join FF stardom with the likes of other NFL pass catchers: Julio Jones, TY Hilton , Mike Evans and Antonio Brown.
Final prediction for 2017: