Fantasy Football Debate: Amari Cooper vs. Tyreek Hill

These two players will be tied closely together this offseason leading up to 2018 fantasy football drafts.  Similar average draft positions, divisional rivals and both within the first four years of their NFL careers, fantasy players will be faced with the decision between these two come draft day.

Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP rankings currently has Tyreek Hill at WR17 and Amari Cooper at WR18, both slotted in the fourth round of a standard 12-person league.  In my initial 2018 fantasy football rankings I have them right next to each other at WR14 & 15 with Cooper having the slight edge, but here is a case for why each player should be the selection come draft day.

The Case for Cooper

My personal selection in this debate, Cooper will look to bounce back in 2018 after finishing as WR30 last season.

With Hill finishing as the fourth-best fantasy receiver last year you may wondering how this is even a debate, but let’s take a look at a couple of things surrounding Cooper in 2017.

1. The entire Oakland Raiders’ team struggled last year and failed to live up to expectations after making the playoffs the year before. The team finished just 6-10 and Derek Carr, a quarterback that was showing promise as being one of the next faces of the league, followed up his 28-touchdown, six-interception 2016 campaign with just 22 touchdowns while more than doubling his interception total with 13.

2. Cooper basically missed three games due to his concussion and ankle injury suffered against Denver. He was already having a tough season before the injury, but this play definitely didn’t help the fact that he finished with career lows in targets (96), receptions (48) and yards (680).

Prior to 2017, Cooper never received less than 130 targets, caught less than 70 passes, or finished with under 1,000 receiving yards.  With the offense never truly clicking and the overall disappointment of the team in general, I don’t believe Cooper’s 2017 statistics are even close to an accurate portrayal as to what kind of receiver he is.

In regards to how Cooper’s production is tied to new head coach Jon Gruden

Yes, it’s been a while since Gruden has been a coach in the NFL, but it’s worth noting that he’s had a receiver top 1,000 yards and six touchdowns in 10 of his 11 years as a head coach.  This should bode well for Cooper as the team’s most talented and explosive wide receiver.

The Case for Hill

As previously mentioned, Hill finished as WR4 in fantasy last season after backing up his unexpected rookie season with a 75-1,183-7 stat line, proving that he’s more than just a straight-line speed/gimmick player that several – including me – labeled him as after his rookie year.

If there is still doubt as to Hill as a complete receiver and fantasy producer moving forward, it should be noted that he finished 2017 with just 17 carries for 59 yards and scored just one non-receiving touchdown compared to six of his 12 touchdowns his rookie season coming either on the ground or via special teams.

The biggest question surrounding Hill in 2018 will be how he produces with second-year quarterback, Pat Mahomes, following the departure of Alex Smith.

My claim last year was to pass on Hill since I was predicting a statistical regression, and then in 2018 when Mahomes took over, to draft Hill as his knack for being able to get behind opposing team’s coverage would be brought to its full potential with a quarterback that has the arm strength and talent of Mahomes.

So while my prediction of Hill regressing in 2017 didn’t come to fruition, I don’t think the change in quarterback will have that big of an impact on Hill’s fantasy production.  The one negative in this theory is the fact that Hill finished as WR4 last season so there isn’t as much room for him to jump in the rankings compared to how much room there is for him to drop.

Another positive surrounding the Hill side of this debate is the fact that he increased his receptions from year one to year two by 14, his receiving yards by 590, and caught one more touchdown in 2017 compared to ’16.  All of this while opposing defenses were well aware of him as one of the team’s top playmakers and a focal point of their defensive game plan.

While I’m obviously intrigued by both Cooper and Hill as my WR14 & 15, respectively, in fantasy football for 2018, I’m making Cooper my selection on draft day if debating between the two.

Who ya got???

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast.  Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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