Why I'm All In On Brandin Cooks For Week One

Jul 6, 2017

By: @DFS_mathlete

Sure it is only July and it is very early for a Week One DFS player article but I am excited for this data (and football) so I couldn’t wait. I have seen so many Brandin Cooks stats that tell the story on why he should have a monster Week One game that I had to share them now.

It should be noted that a lot can happen over the next few months leading up to the Pats vs Chiefs season opener on Sept 7th. Training camp is always good for a few surprises. I will surely tweet or blog about Brandin Cooks again leading up to the Week One game, especially if anything changes with these stats or we get new information.

The Numbers

To start, lets investigate the strengths of Cooks. Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) wrote a great article on Pro Football Focus showing how dominate Brandin Cooks is against “slow” cornerbacks.


The article defined a “slow” cornerback as a player having a 40-yard dash combine time slower than 4.45 seconds. Of the 139 qualifying wide receivers assessed Cooks has by far the largest PPR/Target difference between “fast” and “slow” corners. The table below, from the article, shows just how important a cornerback’s lack of speed is to Cooks’ success.

PFF article.jpg

There are a lot of roster changes that will be made over the next two months. According to ESPN, Kansas City’s current roster does not have a “cornerback” that ran a combine/pro-day 40-yard dash faster than 4.45 meaning they are all “slow” cornerbacks. ESPN lists Marcus Peters and Phillip Gaines as “defensive backs” but they do play cornerback. Peters ran a 4.53 and Gaines ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. I am confident that Belichick and Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels will be able to scheme plays for Cooks so he can avoid the speedy Gaines. This will allow for Cooks to dominate the “slow” KC cornerbacks.

KC CB Times.jpg

The Other Receiving Matchups

According to Matt Harmon’s (@MattHarmon_BYB) Wide Receiver Reception Perception, Julian Edelman has the second largest change in success rate from man coverage to zone coverage. Edelman dominates zone coverage ranking 2nd in success rate but only 32nd in success rate versus man coverage. According to Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) of Pro Football Focus the Chiefs played more man coverage than any other team in 2016. This does not setup well for Edelman.

Man vs Zone Data.jpg

Kansas City has a strong defense and they are extremely good against tight ends. According to Fantasy Pros the Chiefs allowed the 3rd least points per game to Tight Ends during the 2016 season. Rob Gronkowski is one of the best tight ends in the game but it is not a great matchup and throwing regularly to Gronk would be playing into the Chiefs’ strength.

Defenses against TEs.jpg

Belichick knows all these stats so he will play to his teams strengths and his opponent’s weaknesses giving a good opportunity for Cooks. He will also have all preseason to prepare and find ways to exploit their best matchups.


The Patriots players are going to be tough to predict for fantasy purposes so you will need to pick your spots. Cooks’ great matchup against the “slow” KC corners as well as Edelman’s and Gronk’s below average matchups are exactly the stats we will need to look for to figure out which Pats player has the best opportunity. Brady and the Patriots should quickly show off their new weapon to the high energy crowd as they raise their championship banner and kick off the 2017 season.

Even with this great matchup I see Cooks as a tourney play and not for 50/50s. I think these stats can lead to a high ceiling but until we see exactly how the Pats use him I think there is potential for a low floor.

Brandin Cooks has a high redraft ADP (higher than I prefer) so I am afraid that this will translate into a high Week One DFS price tag. The only benefit of that is it will help keep his ownership down. If Cooks has a high price tag then he would be looked at as a contrarian play or a pivot from other WRs with “better” matchups. Hopefully I am wrong and his price tag is reasonable which will make for easier roster construction. Either way, sign me up.

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