After several days of trade rumors, it is now official:
The New England Patriots’ offense gains another dangerous target with the speedy youngster, whose resume includes back-to-back season with more than 1,100 yards. Cooks turns 24 early in the 2017 season and is entering a contract year. The talented burner will need to buy into the Patriots’ way of doing things, though, as attitude concerns exist.
Cooks joins a crowded cast of weapons, which makes prognostication all that much harder. He is the best natural deep threat at Tom Brady’s disposal, but we’re also talking about a to-be 40-year-old passer in a system that relies heavily on yards after the catch.
The Patriots will have to find enough balls to go around to feed Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, James White, Dion Lewis, Malcolm Mitchell, Dwayne Allen, Danny Amendola and now Cooks. It stands to reason that Amendola will be cut, for whatever it is worth.
Fantasy football outlook
Cooks probably won’t see a high volume of targets in total, and there could be several weeks of near silence along the way. For example, last year, 50 percent of his touchdowns came in just two games. Cooks caught four or fewer balls in six contests — and all of that happened in an offense in which he was supposed to be featured.
No one plays the matchups like the Patriots, and we don’t even know what kind of chemistry Brady will have with his new toy. Cooks will have monster performances but may go dormant at a maddening rate. He has more fantasy value in non-PPR scoring formats, and it is entirely possible gamers grossly overvalue him on draft day.
His floor somewhere in the WR3 neighborhood. One could make a viable argument that Cooks is featured enough to climb into the fringe No. 1 conversation. More safely, though, target him as a second receiver.
Brady is solidly in top-five quarterback territory based on talent and targets, but age is an obvious factor to consider. Even the best can lose it in a hurry.
All other receiving targets should see a slight hit if Cooks has a broad role. If it is more narrowly defined as a downfield target, Hogan and Mitchell figure to suffer the most.