The Case For Amari Cooper
Amari Cooper dominated as a rookie last season for the Oakland Raiders. He clearly showed that he has the make-up of a true WR1 in the NFL, as well as a viable WR1 in fantasy football. Now healthy this season, Cooper is primed to top his impressive rookie year in 2016.
Cooper’s 2015 Rookie Season
Last season, Amari Cooper became the first Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver to reach 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie year. He accomplished this amazing feat with a quadriceps injury in November and the foot injury that truly hindered his potential heading into Week 14 of the 2015 season.
Cooper had 5 games with over 100 yards receiving, not bad for a rookie. With his talent and health at 100%, I believe we may have witnessed his floor. As good as his first year was, Cooper will progress from here. Let’s not forget, he achieved these numbers with a foot injury that in his words “affected my whole game“. He is heading into his sophomore season as the 11th wide receiver off the board in standard scoring, going ahead of players like Keenan Allen (14), Demaryius Thomas (16) and T.Y. Hilton (17) with good reason. Quarterback, Derek Carr in his two NFL seasons has 599 passing attempts in 2014 and 573 passing attempts in 2015. You can expect Amari Cooper’s targets to rise and with the rise of targets will come a rise in production for this second-year wideout. All signs are pointing to a much improved overall season for Cooper.
Derek Carr and wide receiver, Amari Cooper, requested to be roommates during training camp this year. They want to enhance their chemistry and become a top QB/WR duo in the NFL, and they want to start this season. Derek Carr was quoted saying “Amari and I should have the best relationship ever.”, further proving their commitment to build off of last season and improve together as teammates. “AC/DC” even have homes in the same city and have been practicing together in the offseason.
The Michael Crabtree Argument
Michael Crabtree also had himself a fantastic season in 2015. He achieved more targets than Amari Cooper and had more receptions as well.
|Michael Crabtree (2015)||146||85|
|Amari Cooper (2015)||130||72|
Even with Crabtree leading in both categories, Cooper still eclipsed Crabtree in receiving yards (1020 vs 922). It is clear, that when healthy, Amari Cooper is the number one receiver on the team despite the amazing season from Michael Crabtree. Having the talents of a guy like Crabtree opposite of Cooper can only help both receivers to split up defenses and get open enough for Derek Carr to do his thing to produce collectively as a pass heavy offense. I fully expect Amari Cooper to get the lion’s share of targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2016.
Strength of Schedule
Last year, the Raiders had the 5th toughest schedule in the NFL. In 2016 they are ranked 15th as far as strength of schedule. This is not the best position but it is much better than where they were last year. They have the toughest Home schedule in the NFL this season, however, they do have the easiest away schedule. If I had my choice of where I would like to play my toughest opponents, I would choose at home every time. The Oakland Raiders will have 4 games against the AFC South whose division leader, the Houston Texans, had a 9-7 record. They will play the NFC South for 4 games and will only have to deal with the Carolina Panthers once, which will be played at home. Other opponents include the Baltimore Ravens who finished 3rd in the AFC North with a 5-11 record in 2015 and the AFC East, Buffalo Bills (8-8 in 2015). Their schedule will be tough at times which could lead to more of a passing game, inflating the stats for Derek Carr and the receiving corp.
How can you not be excited for a guy who, as a rookie, eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in franchise history, while playing with an injury? How can you not be excited for that same guy who is now healthy and has the experience of his first NFL season under his belt? How can you not be excited for a guy that is roommates with his quarterback to help build up their chemistry? The answer is simple, Amari Cooper is an exciting player heading into 2016 because he has barely begun to tap his potential with the Oakland Raiders. This team will likely be throwing a ton, often utilizing their rising star quarterback, Derek Carr, which can only spell success for Cooper in 2016, so get excited FOR Amari Cooper!