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Alex Schillinger: I think the response to Amari Cooper’s 2017 season has been a collective, “What the fuck?” In his first two seasons as a pro, Cooper caught over 150 balls for over 2,100 yards while pulling down 11 TDs. But this year…this year he’s been plain awful.

Mike Bergsman: Awful is an understatement. The crazy thing is he’s actually not been good for quite a while. His last game over 100 yards receiving was in Week 8 of last year. So it’s been 13 games played, and almost a year in real time, since Cooper last broke 100 yards. That’s nuts. Since that last big game, he’s amassed 44 receptions for 484 yards and four touchdowns. That’s only worth 8.95 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues! There’s only one logical conclusion here. Amari Cooper is past his prime. He’s getting old and he just can’t do what he used–wait…he’s only 23? Okay maybe that’s not it.

Alex: It’s not like he doesn’t have skill. He’s proven he can be one of the top fantasy WRs in the league. He’s got character, a strong work ethic and no real injuries.1 Sure he’s dropped a few balls but, c’mon, that can’t be his only issue, can it? He’s not even getting targeted in the first place. Wait…

Look, I know I’m not the numbers guy here but I did some digging. Oakland is averaging seven fewer passing attempts per game than they did last year. My guess: it’s because of their (suddenly, surprisingly) piss poor line. Right now, they are on pace to allow more than twice as many sacks than they did all of last season. That’s disastrous and it’s not like the running game is helping them out at all either. They’re averaging a pedestrian2 4.2 yards per attempt and 30 yards per game fewer than what they ground out3 last year. Honestly, I don’t know that Cooper is the problem…the Raiders kinda suck.

Mike: You’re definitely onto something with the whole Raiders-sucking concept and the numbers back you up. Cooper’s getting targeted 6.6 times per week in 2017, compared to 8.2 per game in 2016. Looking back to Week 9 in 2016, across that miserable 13-game stretch, he’s averaged 6.5 targets per game. That’s really low usage and it’s been going on long enough to suggest that no change is imminent. As a point of reference, Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins, number one and two in targets so far this year, have been targeted 12.8 and 12.2 targets per game, respectively.

Cooper has been targeted outrageously little in the last 13 games but even when he has been targeted, he’s been ineffective, catching only 52.3% of the passes thrown his way. Hopkins has a catch rate of 57.3% with Brown at 62.5%. Is this another Raiders-sucking problem? Well, Raiders wideout Michael Crabtree is catching 79.1% of catches so far this year meaning this one falls squarely on Cooper.

This feels insane to say but here we are: Cooper is not even worth starting as a flex option at this point in what has been an unbelievably bad stretch for him. Even worse, it’s hard to imagine him turning things around given his porous offensive line, poor QB play,4 and lack of a running game. With that being said, he’s still got all that talent that made him so great in the past and his owner is probably dying to give him away. He could be worth a flyer as a trade target if you’re willing to take on some risk.

Maybe I’m not being fair. You drafted him; what do you think , Gollumpus?

Alex: I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s not worth keeping him on your roster. He’s still the top WR on a team that’s not the Cleveland Browns. That still counts for something. Sure, he’s getting hounded by the press about his abissmal hands which, you know, is never good, but I don’t think he’s done for just yet. He’ll do fine this year once Carr is back to 100%. I say that this year-long slump is mostly bad luck and worse circumstance. He’s due to bounce back soon enough, so I think Cooper’s still a good Flex play going forward.

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Can Kareem Hunt keep this up?”

Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs
2017 : 3 GP | 401 yds | 9 rec | 137 yds | 6 Total TDs

Alex Schillinger: Kareem Hunt didn’t exactly have the best start to his professional career: he fumbled his very first NFL carry. After that, though, he’s been pretty much flawless with 392 yards (on 46 carries) and four rushing TDs to go with a pair of receiving TDs. The Toledo alum has worked his way onto 100% of the rosters in ESPN leagues and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. But the question remains, is it even possible for the rookie to keep up this pace?

Mike Bergsman: You mean, a pace of 2,138 yards rushing, 731 yards receiving, 32 touchdowns, and 48 receptions? A pace that equates to an average of 32.3 PPG and 516 total fantasy points, shattering every record ever, and probably inserting himself into the Hall of Fame based on one year alone? Absolutely not.

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is Tom Brady worth it?”

Tom Brady – New England Patriots
2016: 12 GP | 67.4 Comp % | 3,554 yds | 28 TDs

Alex Schillinger: We get it Tom. You’ve proven that you’re the best quarterback in the game…again. You currently rank in the top four all-time in wins, passing yards, passing touchdowns and a bunch of other stuff. Oh, and to top it all off, you’re married to one of the most beautiful women in the world, and you’ve got your next career all lined up: Hollywood, here comes your next leading man.

But none of that matters now. Not on the gridiron.1 No, what matters here is whether or not Tom Brady is worth the cost he’s going to demand in this year’s fantasy drafts. Right now, his ADP among QBs is 2nd and he’s the 3rd overall player off the board. In auction leagues, he’s going for $22 on average. No way is he, or any other QB for that matter, worth that much.2

Mike Bergsman: The thing is, Brady has so much cache that people are actually going to pay that much for him or draft him in the third or fourth round. People are dumb. Now, while I do think Brady is legitimately the best QB ever, I absolutely would not draft him for that much or that early. That’s not a knock on him as much as it is me just not being a moron.

While we can both agree Brady isn’t that valuable,3 he’s still going to be one of the best fantasy QBs in the league, right? Homeboy just added Brandin Cooks as a deep threat to join the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman,4 James White, Dion Lewis, Dwayne Allen, and Danny Amendola. Also, he made this. Yeah, that’s a $200 cookbook. George Foreman ain’t got nothin’ on TB12.

Alex: Seriously, $200 for a cookbook gives me just enough cause to not draft this guy regardless of how well he performs on the field. That said, I still wouldn’t draft him, even if he is the world’s greatest QB5 and sold his cookbook for a more reasonable $29.99.

That might sound like crazy talk, but hear me out. Brady nearly always finishes in the top five in fantasy scoring, but he’s only finished in the top 3 in scoring four times in his entire career. Granted, that’s still pretty good, but it’s not $22 good, it’s not even $10 good. And there’s no way he’s going for anything less than that. What about you, would you spend more than $10 on your GOAT?

Mike: To answer your question, no. I would not spend $10 or more on a goat man.

As seen in the groundbreaking – neigh, revolutionary! – statistic introduced here, very seldomly do quarterbacks provide the kind of value that other positions do. I can’t justify spending a large amount of precious draft capital on someone who will only get me a couple of more points per game than a low-tier QB.

I’d rather spend an early pick or a high percentage of my draft dollars on guys who far outperform their peers.

Alex: We’re in complete agreement here. I hate it when that happens. But it’s instructive: no matter how good a QB is, he’s just not worth more than $4, which is exactly where I have Mr. Gisele Bundchen. If I’m snake drafting, I’m taking him well after I’ve found my starting WRs and RBs and maybe even my TE.

Mike: So basically, what both of us are saying is, “Fuck Tom Brady and his four minute 40 time.” Also, Tom Brady is the man and I want his life. Both can be true. However, don’t go overboard spending a significant amount of draft dollars or an early draft pick on any QB, ever. You can get a serviceable QB in later rounds, whereas you will not find a value-producing RB or WR in later rounds. At least, not without a healthy dose of luck.

Alex: I feel like we can’t go out on that note…so here’s more of Tom doing what he does second best.

You know how you prep all summer for your auction draft and go in knowing exactly who you’re going to draft and how much you’re going to spend on them? Of course you do. And you know how, once the draft actually begins, you get exactly none of those guys at anything close to those prices? Of course you do.

Since their fantasy drafts won’t ever unfold as perfectly as they’d want, we let our writing team indulge their draft fantasies and put together the exact teams that they’d want.1

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is this guy any good?”

LeGarrette Blount – Philadelphia Eagles
2016: 16 GP | 299 Carries | 1,161 yds | 18 TDs

Alex Schillinger: There’s no denying it. LeGarrette Blount had a killer year last year. 18 touchdowns?1 Are you kidding me? There isn’t an adjective powerful enough to describe a fantasy year like that. But it wasn’t just that. He topped one thousand yards rushing and he played in all 16 games.2 Look at those numbers! Blount’s a stud, right?

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is this guy any good?”

Alshon Jeffery – Philadelphia Eagles
2016: 12 GP | 52 rec | 821 yds | 2 TDs

Alex Schillinger: Sure, there are some red flags. Jeffery is on a new team, in a new system. He’s scored more than seven touchdowns in a season a grand total of one time. He’s had some injury issues in the past, and then there’s that whole illegal performance enhancing drugs suspension thing. There’s reason for concern, is what I’m saying. But he’s got some definite upside too. If you extrapolate out his yardage over a full season, Jeffery would have had over 1,000 yards receiving in each of the last four years.1 He’s on a one-year “prove it” contract, and he’s got something to, you know, prove. Despite those initial red flags, it looks to me like Jeffery’s poised for a strong year. What do your stats say, Mikey?

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is this guy any good?”

Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders
2016: Did not play (retired)

Mike Bergsman: One of the most interesting storylines of the 2017 season is Marshawn Lynch coming out of retirement to play for his hometown Raiders. From 2012 to 2014, Lynch was the top RB in standard fantasy leagues, and despite not having much of a reputation as a receiving back he was still ranked third in PPR leagues, behind noted pass-catchers Matt Forte and Jamaal Charles. That’s a great bit of history but it’s just that: history. After a year off, it’s tough to know how well Lynch will play, especially on a brand new team and in a brand new offense. Will he tear it up like the good ol’ days or go all Steven Jackson on the Falcons?

One man arms himself with a calculator, the other with his intuition. They enter the cage for a no holds barred bloodbath to answer the age-old question, “Is this guy any good?”

Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
2016: 15 GP | 92 rec | 1,137 yds | 9 TDs

Alex Schillinger: As a Brandin Cooks owner last year in a PPR league, there wasn’t a week that went by that I didn’t say, “who the fuck is this Michael Thomas guy?”1 By Week 8 it felt like he’d stolen all of Cooks’ points,2 so I started doing some research. Sure Thomas had the measurables. He’s 6’3” and 212 lbs with monster 10.5” hands and a family pedigree at wide receiver that includes former number one overall pick Keyshawn Johnson.3 But could a moderately fast, mid to deep threat, outside option really keep up this pace? Turns out…yes.