The NFL regular season is right around the corner and that means fantasy football ramps up into full gear as well. While fantasy sports have been around for a long time, my first fantasy baseball league was sometime in the early 1990s, widespread internet and social media access has created a boon.
For the Cleveland Browns, the 2023 season is far more important than anything related to fantasy football. Jobs, careers and reputations are on the line for many connected to the team as playoff aspirations have turned into requirements.
For fantasy football owners, the Browns are a bit of an enigma. The defense was terrible the last couple of years but has significantly upgraded around Myles Garrett. On the offensive side of the ball, Nick Chubb has been a solid fantasy contributor but many wonder if he will really be used as a pass catcher this season. Even if Chubb takes it up a notch, Deshaun Watson’s performance could help or hinder the rest of the weapons.
According to Pro Football Focus, one of those weapons, WR Amari Cooper, is being overvalued going into this season:
ROUND 4: WR AMARI COOPER, CLEVELAND BROWNS | ADP: 4.12
Cooper’s fantasy value will largely depend on how well Deshaun Watson plays this season.
He averaged 0.64 touchdowns per game when Jacoby Brissett was quarterback and 0.33 touchdowns per game with Watson.
Similarly, he put up at least 75 receiving yards in over half of his games with Brissett and did so in only one of six with Watson.
Cooper could put up his best fantasy numbers yet if Watson can return to being the football player he once was, but Cooper could also be a bust if Watson plays how he did last season.
The conversation about Cooper’s fantasy value mirrors the conversation around Cleveland’s projections this season. As Watson goes, so does this season for the Browns.
One thing not noted but that is a potential concern for Cooper’s fantasy value is the siphoning of targets. Last year, Cleveland’s top receiver was targeted 132 times, 17th most in the league. Donovan Peoples-Jones was second on the team with 96.
In 2023, Elijah Moore, Jordan Akins and Cedric Tillman were added to the roster, Chubb is expected to be more involved in the passing game, DPJ is still around and David Njoku will command targets as well. Cooper is unlikely to see a 36-target differential even if he leads Cleveland in targets.
As PFF notes, if Watson returns to form, the Browns passing offense could explode with Cooper leading the way. Nothing is certain going into 2023 which makes Cooper’s ADP (average draft position) a risk for many.
Fantasy football owners, where do you have Amari Cooper ranked for this season?