Fantasy Football: What to expect from Brandin Cooks in 2021

Brandon Cooks, Fantasy Football, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs
NFL Analysis Network

Coming off a down season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 (42 catches for 583 yards and two touchdowns), Brandin Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans. With DeAndre Hopkins gone, the well-traveled Cooks was lined up to be a top target for Deshaun Watson with legit fantasy upside

Cooks delivered last year, with 81 receptions for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. He finished as WR17 in full PPR (WR16 in standard scoring), his fifth finish as a top-20 fantasy receiver in the last six seasons. He has also had 110 or more targets and over 1,100 total yards in those same five seasons. Catching a lot of passes from Drew Brees (2015-2016), Tom Brady (2017), peak Jared Goff (2018) and Watson works quite well.

Over his last four games last season, after Will Fuller was suspended, Cooks totaled 29 catches for 431 yards and three touchdowns (7.3 receptions, 107.8 yards per game). Per-game in full PPR, he was WR3 in fantasy over that span (22.5 points per game, Week 13-17). A missed game in Week 14 may have been ill-timed for fantasy owners, even in a tough matchup against the Chicago Bears that probably rendered him to WR3 consideration.

Brandin Cooks 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook

The big question attached to Cooks this year, and the entire Texans’ offense, is Watson’s status. He was angling for a trade, then a litany of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. It seems unlikely he’ll ever play for the Texans again, but they can’t trade him until there’s clarity on his situation.

With Watson all but gone, the Texans signed Tyrod Taylor and drafted Davis Mills to fill out their quarterback depth chart. They also signed Jeff Driskel, but he’ll only play in a worst-case scenario.

With Watson playing as well as he did last year, the Texans went 4-12. This year, without him, they are staring at one or two wins and the No. 1 pick in next April’s draft. But that also means trailing in a lot of games, and plenty of passing volume in negative game scripts.

Fuller signed with the Miami Dolphins in free agency. Check out the Texans’ new wide receiver depth chart.

Randall Cobb
Nico Collins (rookie)
Keke Coutee
Chris Conley
Isaiah Coulter

Donte Moncrief
Andre Roberts

What you see there is big opportunity for Cooks. Cobb can still be a nice player, and Collins is a promising prospect. But 119 targets in 2020, over 15 games, is lined up push toward 130-140 this year for Cooks. And no, it won’t matter who the quarterback is.

Via Fantasy Football Calculator, Cooks is coming in at WR39 in 12-point full PPR and WR34 in 12-team standard right now (WR36 in half-PPR, for further context). Those latter ADPs are WR3 territory. Even with the Texans’ quarterback downgrade, that feels like his floor. The ceiling, certainly with Watson under center (unlikely as it is) and even without Watson based on pure volume, is a WR2 finish.

Fantasy managers should not ignore players on bad teams. Cooks is the poster boy for that right now this year. While everyone else turns up their nose at the idea of drafting him, though it seems to be inching the other way, there’ll be profit for those that see the whole picture and embrace Cooks’ value.

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