If you can't get game tickets because annoying stuff like rent and avocado toast keep gobbling up chunks of your budget like Cookie Monster, there's not much better than hanging out all day with the gang on a Sunday watching some football. What's better, you may ask? Take that exact scenario and then add everyone on your fantasy team putting up double-digit points by the time Sunday Night Football is at halftime. THAT'S the way to live.
For most of us that are well beyond addicted to fantasy football, you’re probably already organizing your draft board in your head, you’ve been keeping notes all offseason on who your friends are all going to draft way too high, and if you’re in a dynasty league, you already hate that one person that drafted Julio Jones or Antonio Brown when you took Josh Gordon or Wes Welker.
ESPN’s Tristan Cockcroft came out with a list to cure your Monday blues - they haven’t moved on to list-icles yet, thank the football gods - and they’re running down the top 10 “Faces in New Places”, meaning guys that joined new teams this offseason through free agent signings and wheeling and dealing. Tristan says the rankings are based on this set of rules:
“They're ranked by the 10 transactions that affect fantasy the most -- and be aware that includes the impact on all players affected by the move, rather than simply upon the player himself. It also addresses, where applicable, the impact on the player's former team created by his departure.”
Sounds like a good time to me! Especially when we’re in the absolute deadest time of the year in the sports calendar, the dog days of summer, right? Let’s jump right in and see why, if you didn’t guess from our title, Brandin Cooks shipping up to New England is the move that’ll shake up pretty much everyone’s fantasy team in some form or another.
(We’re going to paraphrase and summarize here, because just copying and pasting what ESPN wrote would be A) lazy, and B) lame.)
- You’ve heard this more times than whatever Taylor Swift song is stuck in your head at the moment: a speed threat for Tom Brady. YOU DON’T SAY!
- It wouldn’t be out of line at all to think Cooks, who’s scored 9 and 8 touchdowns in his last 2 seasons, could easily hit double-digit TDs this season. That’d put him in the same elite....um, exceptional company as Jordy Nelson (14 TDs), Antonio Brown (12 TDs), Mike Evans (12 TDs), Davante Adams (12 TDs), and Odell Beckham Jr (10 TDs), based on 2016’s numbers.
- New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas, the former Buckeye that set a whole boatload of Saints rookie records last year while logging an eye-popping 92 catches for 1,137 yards and 9 touchdowns, stands to really benefit from Cooks being gone, as he becomes Drew Brees’ new go-to guy. ESPN even goes so far as to say he could basically become Saints legend Marques Colston, who I imagine never has to pay for a drink in the city of New Orleans again.
- Targets are going to be the wild card with both players. The Patriots are maddeningly good at tweaking their game plan on both offense and defense every week depending on their opponent, and Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been running the Saints passing game together for so long, Brees will sling it wherever he darn well pleases.
- Finally, a projection for where you should snag Cooks and Thomas in your draft, assuming you’re lucky enough to have them both on the board when you pick:
Draft Cooks and Thomas with confidence -- as a midrange WR2 and low-end WR1, respectively -- and don't get overzealous with your projections for either.
Gotta laugh a little bit at that one - it’s more or less saying “You’ll probably have to spend a second or third-round pick to get these guys, but TEMPER YOUR EXPECTATIONS!” Ok, pal, if I’m drafting someone that high, I expect 15-20 points a game, and pretty much double that if it’s a quarterback.
Either way, keep an eye on both Cooks and Thomas when your draft rolls around this August. Depending on your league, they’re either going to get way overdrafted - or, if you’re lucky, they’ll be sitting there ripe for the taking right as you’re ready to beef up your roster after your first few picks.
For what it’s worth, Pro Football Focus has Michael Thomas ranked at #9 and Brandin Cooks at #18, so, do with that information what you will.
And, as always, make sure your league stays free of collusion.