Could Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper Be An Under the Radar Fantasy League Winning Stack? - Roto Street Journal
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Could Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper Be An Under the Radar Fantasy League Winning Stack?

After seven games last season, the Dallas Cowboys appeared to be closer to a miniature rebuild rather than a contender.  Aside from Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys offense as a whole was sputtering.  Jerry Jones knew the Cowboys had to make a big move if they wanted to stay in contention.  Enter Amari Cooper.  Cooper was traded to the Cowboys in exchange for a first round pick and the chemistry was instant.  Dak Prescott appeared to finally have a true alpha target hog wide receiver and the offense took off.

The Case for Amari Cooper

Yes yes, I know.  Cooper’s name is often cursed by fantasy players for his tendency to disappear in Oakland.  What made matters worse was that Cooper was borderline untradeable and undroppable.  Cooper would randomly explode for crazy 100+ yard, multi-touchdown games.  That week winning upside made Cooper similar to that late night Taco Bell run.  Something that often ends in disaster, but sometimes it hits the spot and keeps you coming back for more.

The big question is, what changed?  The Cowboys pass attack wasn’t exactly known to be formidable.  Prescott had proven to be a competent quarterback capable of winning games, but rarely showed that he was something to be feared from a fantasy perspective.  Cooper was the lead dog in Oakland after the departure of Michael Crabtree to the Ravens.  Why, all of the sudden, did Cooper turn into a more reliable fantasy wide receiver?  The answer lies in the coaching scheme and volume.

Before being traded to the Cowboys, Cooper wasn’t best being used as the weak-side x-receiver.  Cooper operates best being moved around and getting to operate in the slot.  In 2018, Cooper was used in the slot 28.2% of the time, almost 12% more than at any point with the Raiders.  The result was Cooper’s freakish physical talents and silky smooth cutting ability being properly utilized for the first time ever.  What a difference a little tweak really makes.

Cooper’s full 16 game pace with the Cowboys shows the night and day difference.  Cooper received three more targets per game with Dallas than with the Raiders.  What really stands out is the drastic difference in receiving yards and touchdowns per game and for the season.  1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns are bonafide WR1 stats that still drip with more upside.  Cooper was thrown into a brand new system with just a bye week to learn the playbook and in half a season, he produced 725 yards and six touchdowns on only 53 receptions.

Cooper carries a little risk going into 2019.  He did slow down the final three games of the season, failing to catch more than five balls or produce more than 32 yards.  One of those was an outlier stinker game for the team as a whole against the Colts, while the other two were against run funnel defenses in the Bucs and the Giants.  Now Cooper enters a new offensive system with a more creative offensive mind in Kellen Moore.  Long story short, Cooper likely hasn’t even reached his ceiling yet and absolutely drips in league-winning upside.

Why Stack With Prescott?

Over the last three seasons, only three quarterbacks have posted top 10 fantasy seasons each season: Russell WilsonDrew Brees, and Prescott.  Like I mentioned earlier, Prescott and the Cowboys offense overall was really struggling to consistently sustain drives.  This offseason, Dallas moved on from longtime play caller Scott Linehan and promoted Moore, the former QBs coach and backup QB to offensive coordinator.

Moore was quoted as saying what he likes the most about the Cowboys offensive roster is the versatility that a lot of the players bring.  He continued to say that he hopes to present a lot of different looks in a lot of different ways.  The NFL offensive landscape right now commands young, innovative offensive minds to provide new looks and new ways to get players the ball in space.  So what does that mean for Prescott and the Cowboys passing attack?  Potentially, a beautiful marriage between the run and the pass games.

After acquiring Cooper, Prescott immediately began displaying significant improvements across the board.  Prescott finished the season on pace for almost 4500 yards and 25 touchdowns along with seven rushing touchdowns.  The dip in rush production likely came as a result of the explosion of Elliott after acquiring Cooper.

Prescott had never put up numbers like that in his career and still never finished worse than a QB1.  With the innovation of the Cowboys offense and Prescott’s surrounding talent improving as well, there’s no reason Prescott doesn’t have top 5 fantasy quarterback upside.  The addition of Randall Cobb from the Packers and the likely second year leap from promising 2018 rookie Michael Gallup gives Prescott the best arsenal of weapons he has ever had in his career.  4500+ yards and 35+ total touchdowns is well within his grasp if this offense gels like it should.

The stack of Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper could very well be a league winning combination in 2019.

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