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While Cooper Kupp was a highly-drafted fantasy wideout, as he’s pretty much been from his entrance into Sean McVay‘s inner circle, I don’t think many people saw his first two games ending with a cumulative 16 catches on 21 targets for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Kupp and Robert Woods have mostly shared the WR1 role in Los Angeles over the past few seasons, each finishing with 90 receptions in 2020 and 2019. So far, Kupp has taken an extreme hold of the share in 2020, as Woods has just eight catches in 13 targets for 91 yards and a score.
It’s a split that is borne out in advanced stats as well, as Kupp has 36.4% of the team’s air yards to just 27.7% for Woods. Kupp only had 20.5% of the team’s air yards in 2020, while Woods had 23.9%. The Matthew Stafford renaissance in Los Angeles has them flying high, and it’s easy to talk about selling high on Kupp but the underlying statistics and effectiveness of the pass offense don’t paint a picture of an offense that is slowing down. If anything, the share of air yards that Woods has is pointing to a buy-low on Woods as the team’s target tree has been extremely narrow.
Tyler Higbee‘s disappearance against a Colts defense that has generally shut down tight ends is a little unsurprising, so factor that in, but Woods and Kupp are reminding me a lot of the McVay Rams that took the world by storm in 2018 before Jared Goff was figured out to be a Jugs machine that needed specific coordinates and times fed to it. That team turned out a pair of 1200-yard receivers in Woods and Brandin Cooks.
Through two games the Rams have faced a pair of top-10 Football Outsiders DVOA defenses from 2020 and shredded them. Other than the pure concept of regression, what exactly makes us sure they’ll slow down from here?
Speaking of the 2018 Rams … Brandin Cooks has vacuumed up the volume in Houston
The Texans threw the ball 28 times on Sunday, and 14 of those times the target was Cooks.
Through two games for most teams, nobody in the NFL has a higher percentage of their team’s air yards than Cooks at 54.1%. Some of that is because the Texans barely needed to throw in their first game, and some of the effectiveness of those targets is bound to suffer with Davis Mills under center in Week 3 and perhaps longer depending on the results of Tyrod Taylor‘s MRI. But it’s worth pointing out that 10 of those targets to Cooks were force-fed by Mills. It’s also worth pointing out that Nico Collins and Danny Amendola left Houston’s game against the Browns with injuries. That left the Texans with just three healthy wideouts at the end of the game: Cooks, Chris Conley, and grizzled kick returner Andre Roberts.
While normally a worse quarterback coming in can completely tank the value of a fantasy asset like Cooks, I might reconsider that view purely on the volume that Mills seems determined to feed him. You might not get touchdowns, but if the Texans are going to throw — and their second-leading receiver by targets finished with two(!) — it might be the case that Cooks can retain his early 2021 value even in the event of an extended Taylor absence. And if Taylor makes it back, the chemistry looked fairly good there over the first six quarters of the season.
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Courtland Sutton takes a big step towards 2019 form in dusting of the Jaguars
Rumors of a balanced Broncos offense involving K.J. Hamler in the absence of Jerry Jeudy proved fraudulent on Sunday as Courtland Sutton went supernova on the Jaguars, leaving behind 159 yards on 12 targets on a beleaguered secondary that missed C.J. Henderson. Sutton is now third in the NFL in targeted air yards per pass, behind only Robby Anderson and Anthony Schwartz.
For the zoomers in the audience who forgot what happened in 2019, Sutton finished as the 19th-ranked PPR wide receiver despite playing with Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, and Brandon Allen under center. The comeback from his torn ACL was arduous and not always optimistically described by Vic Fangio, who at one point in the preseason said Sutton looked tentative. This was not the same player, this was a terrific wideout regaining his confidence and form rapidly.
Sutton was already presumed to be a WR3 — this was the kind of game that should elevate him back into a WR2 for the stretch without Jeudy. Who knows how long that will be, but when Jeudy comes back he might find a new target roadblock in his way.
Welcome to the Rondale Moore show
Astute fantasy owners had probably already had Moore on the radar for a bit now, but it was interesting to see the waiver lines go wild for Christian Kirk when Moore had the exact same amount of targets and two fewer yards in Week 1, just without the shiny touchdowns. As expected by anyone with eyes who had seen the Minnesota secondary, the Cardinals were able to create a bloodbath that almost all of their receivers got in on to some extent. Even A.J. Green had 44 yards and a touchdown.
But leading the team in targets and reeling in 114 yards thanks to a 77-yard bomb was the rookie Moore, which has him inside the top 12 of all fantasy wideouts for Week 2 heading into MNF. This is a situation I’m a little less enthusiastic on reading too much into because of the big play and the effectiveness of almost all Cardinals receivers — can you really trust the results of any game in which Maxx Williams racks up 94 yards on seven targets? I also don’t think Moore is going to double DeAndre Hopkins in targets in the typical game, as I have watched more than one football game in my life.
That said, Moore is building as compelling a case as Kirk to be rostered and he’s also averaging 14.3 yards after the catch in an offense that knows how to get disruptive players the ball in space. There will be growing pains with the pecking order, particularly if Green continues to get veteran respect from the coaching staff. But it was always silly that Moore fell to the second round after his dominant career at Purdue and he should be on your waiver wire radar as we approach Week 3.
Other WR Week 2 notes: Mike Williams was able to exact the kind of vengeance you’d expect from a good wideout facing Anthony Brown, but also surprisingly led the Chargers in targets. … Mike Evans muscled out the Falcons defense to make up for his Week 1 with two touchdowns and a game-high nine targets. … The buy-low list starts with D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown, who are both racking up targets but not producing just yet.. … Despite the Week 2 flop, DeVonta Smith now holds a very strong 50.8% share of the targeted air yards in Philadelphia and should remain on the WR3 line going forward.