Fantasy Football for Schmucks: Who Will Be Watson's Go To WR, Fuller or Cooks?
Deshaun Watson is one of the most talented QBs in the NFL right now. He is also a fantasy stud. With the departure of DeAndre Hopkins, however, there are some question marks on this offense. Still, Watson is a consensus top five fantasy QB. So why are both of his top receiving options being drafted outside of the top 30 WRs? Which one has more upside? Can we trust them both?
Both of Watson's top receiving options are extremely gifted athletically. At the combine Cooks measured in at 5' 10" 189lbs. The Oregon State product ran a 4.33 forty yard dash putting his weight adjusted speed score in the 77th percentile, had an average burst score 50th percentile, and elite agility score 99th percentile. His catch radius also landed in 84th percentile.
Now onto Fuller. The Notre Dame WR had a great showing at the combine as well. Fuller measured in at 6' 0" 186lbs. Fuller also blazed the forty, with a time of 4.32 seconds. This places him in the 83rd percentile for weight adjusted speed score. His other combine numbers, however, were not as impressive. He had a 44th percentile burst score, a 53rd percentile agility score, and a 43rd percentile catch radius.
After going through the combine numbers it shows just how impressive these two are athletically. It also shows, just from a pure athletic standpoint, we can give Cooks a slight nod.
Both Cooks and Fuller have shown well when they are on the field. They are explosive playmakers that can take the top off a defense and are a threat to score at any moment. Which player, to this point, has been more impressive though?
Brandin Cooks came into the league as a first round pick, being selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 20th overall pick. He showed well there in his three seasons with the team, but he somehow is now already on his 4th team in his short career. You would think this would slow a player down having to learn new offenses, but he has thrived everywhere he has been. Cooks has posted 4 seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving in his six year career, each year that he played a full 16 games. He has a career average of 9.3 yards per target, 14.3 yards per reception and 65.1 yards per game. He has also played in 88 of a possible 96 games.
Now what has Cooks done for fantasy players though. He has finished WR 59, 12, 8, 7, 13, and 62 in PPR. The two years he was not top 13 were his rookie campaign and his injury riddled 2019. Cooks has fallen short of 8 points in 27% of his career games or 24 times. This number went way up last year as he failed to hit that mark eight times. Before this past season it would have only been 19 percent of his games. He is a somewhat safe play with a huge ceiling, going for 20 or more points in 22 games (25%) in his career. His career average, even with the awful season last year, is 14.38 points per game.
Now onto the boomin' Will Fuller. Fuller has been severely limited by injuries during his short career. He has been explosive at times and shown plenty of promise in the Houston Texans offense. He also has an established rapport with Watson. He had a career high 670 receiving yards on the season last year in only 11 games. He did show a ton of inconsistency throughout the season but also showed he can go completely nuclear in a game. He racked up 14 receptions for 217 yards and 3 TDs against the Falcons in week 5 last year. Fuller has a career average of 8.6 yards per target, 14.3 yards per reception, and 53.1 yards per game. If he can stay healthy for a full season he could put together a hell of a stat line. But I do hesitate, as his career year last year was still only a 16 game pace of 974 yards receiving.
What has Fuller done for fantasy players. To be frank, he has been quite frustrating. His seasonal finishes were WR 66, 48, 65, and 53. He has just as much upside each week as any WR in fantasy. This is evidenced by his 56 PPR point outing last year in the Atlanta game previously mentioned. His floor is terribly low though. He has failed to reach 8 points in a PPR format in about 48% of his outings. This can really sand bag your fantasy roster any week. He has scored over 20 points in 9 games (21.4%) in his career. Fuller does have a respectable 12.04 PPR point per game average throughout his career.
The advantage is given again here to Brandin Cooks. He completely tanks your roster less often and has more boom games. It was also a little surprising to realize that Cooks averages more points per game throughout his career. Brandin Cooks has also put together much better stat lines in his career, never missing 1,000 yards receiving when he plays a full 16 games.
Both of these players seem to have a high injury risk. It seems like many are more worried about Cooks concussion history when they maybe should worry a bit more about Fuller's recurring soft tissue injuries. Let's list out the injuries for each player.
Week 10, 2014: Thumb Fracture
Week 2, 2015: Ankle Sprain
Week 13, 2015: Concussion
Week 2, 2016: Ankle Sprain
Week 13, 2016: Concussion
Postseason, 2017: Concussion
Week 5, 2019: Concussion
Week 8, 2019: Concussion (2 missed games)
Week 5, 2016: Hamstring Strain
Week 9, 2016: Knee Strain (1 missed game)
Preseason, 2017: Clavicle Fracture (2 missed games)
Week 10, 2017: Rib Fracture (3 missed games)
Week 1, 2018: Hamstring Strain (1 missed game)
Week 8, 2018: ACL Tear (9 missed games)
Week 7, 2019: Hamstring Strain (4 missed games)
Week 16, 2019: Core Muscle Tear (2 missed games)
According to Dr.Jesse Morse's sports injury predictor he puts Cooks at a 13% chance of injury in 2020 with a 0.9% chance in each game. Dr. Morse projects 0.1 games missed for Cooks. Fuller, on the other hand, is a different story. Dr. Morse gives him a 97% chance of injury in 2020 with a 19.7% chance of injury in each game, and projects 5.2 missed games for him this year.
Health. Yet another edge to Cooks. There is a chance of being wrong and Fuller remains healthy while Cooks is injured, but the probability is that this does not happen. As scary as concussions are soft tissue injuries may limit a player even more.
What To Do In Fantasy
Both players are going late but have a ton of upside. Fuller has never had the chance to be a number 1 WR while Cooks has operated in such a role. I do not think either winds up as a true number one. They should operate as 1A and 1B in this offense. Cooks is going 88th overall in PPR redrafts (WR 36) while Fuller is going ahead of him at 76th overall (WR 34). This makes Cooks even more of a value. In dynasty Cooks actually goes first at 84th overall and Fuller at 90th. 84th overall is pretty damn cheap for a player with 4 finishes in the top 13 at his position! These guys are easily draftable.
Each of these players are also easily attainable in dynasty. Some trades I have seen for each.
Parris Campbell for Cooks and a 2020 2nd
2 2021 3rds for Cooks
Ke'Shawn Vaughn for Cooks
21 3rd and 22 3rd for Fuller
Edelman for B. Scott, Fuller, and a 2020 3rd
Hype has grown for Fuller though so in some leagues you may be able to trade him for a haul. This is evidenced by these next trades.
Fuller and a 21 1st for Swift and Parris Campbell
Fuller, AJ Green, 21 2nd for DK Metcalf and Dissly
In fantasy, I think this article has shown Cooks to be the better option. He should thrive in the offense. People will talk about how he has to get acclimated to a new offense, but he has done this multiple times. Each time he was traded to a new team he had over a thousand yards receiving on the season. This is not to say that Fuller is off my board, I just would rather have the player with just as high a ceiling but also a better floor as well. Don't let last season fool you, Cooks is one hell of a WR, and we need to start treating him as such. Until then keep scooping up a young productive stud in the 8th and load up on RBs early. Happy drafting!