Fantasy Football Would You Rather - Cooper Kupp in the 3rd? Or Robert Woods in the 4th?
Over the next several weeks, the SI Fantasy team will be taking a look at two different players; either on the same team as part of a desirable fantasy offense, or two players close in ADP (average draft position). The goal is to answer the following question: “Would you rather take Player X at this ADP, or Player Y at that ADP?”
This exercise is particularly helpful in fantasy football drafting to help prepare in real-time for when the desired player gets “sniped” by another fantasy owner in drafts.
In our opening installment of fantasy “Would You Rather?” SI Fantasy analyst Bill Enright will be making the argument that Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the third round is the better overall pick based on talent, projections, and value. I will make the counterpoint argument for his teammate Robert Woods in the fourth round.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp (WR15, Advanced ADP 36)
Bill Enright’s argument for Kupp over Woods based on ADP
Despite tearing his ACL in 2018, Cooper Kupp returned to the field in 2019 with a vengeance.
The Rams receiver was six catches away from breaking 100 receptions on the year, picked up 1,1161 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. All three statistical marks were career highs for Los Angeles’ playmaker.
Despite playing in just 39 games the last three seasons (Kupp missed eight games in 2018 with the aforementioned knee injury) the fourth-year wide receiver ranks 10th in the NFL with 21 touchdowns since 2017.
To put that stat in perspective, Michael Thomas is seventh on the list with 23 scores but needed 48 games, nine more than Kupp, to get two more touchdowns. In other words, Kupp isn’t just a major threat in PPR scoring, he’s among the league’s elite when it comes to finding the end-zone.
In 2019, he led the Rams receivers in target percentage inside the red-zone, seeing 26.9% of the Jared Goff’s passes inside the 20. Compare that to teammate Robert Woods’ 13.4% and it becomes clear why Kupp outscored Woods by a 5-to-1 ratio last season.
Given the extremely close proximity of their Average Draft Position, it would behoove any fantasy manager to grab Kupp as the 15th wide receiver off the board instead of waiting for a few picks to get Woods as wide receiver 18.
Here's some even more stats on Kupp from RamsDigest
Kupp led the NFL in receiving yards from the slot position in 2019 with 783, while finishing second in targets (93) and receptions (62) from inside. According to Next Gen Stats, Kupp also led the league with 26 receptions from the slot on third down.
Rams WR Robert Woods (WR18, Advanced ADP 42)
Ben Heisler’s argument for Woods over Kupp based on ADP
Bill’s argument for Cooper Kupp, particularly when it comes to touchdown equity is a good one. But is it sustainable?
Last season, Kupp saw 18 red-zone targets for 13 catches and six touchdowns. He’s not going to catch 46% of his red-zone catches for touchdowns again in 2020.
Regarding Robert Woods, he was still one of the most effective wide receivers in fantasy WITHOUT needing the touchdowns to display gaudy fantasy numbers. In 2019, he finished as the number 17 ranked WR with just two touchdowns to his name.
So why do I have him as a better value pick ahead of Kupp? Take a look at how Woods was used in the Rams’ offense with the integration of breakout tight end Tyler Higbee.
The Rams are typically known for more playing 11-personnel, which feature three-WR sets. Kupp, as the primary slot option was in a terrific position to capitalize in mismatches in the middle of the field. Then, once Gerald Everett left the mix after his injury, Tyler Higbee balled out down the stretch of the season, the Rams were playing more 12-personnel with two-WR sets and two TEs.
In the second half of the 2019 season, Woods molly-whopped Kupp in targets (88-57), receptions, (59-43), yards (779-589), and PPR fantasy points (154.5 for Woods, 137.9 for Kupp).
While Kupp is a red-zone target monster, I worry that a full season of Higbee caps his value with so much equity tied to his touchdowns. I’ll save up with woods who has posted back-to-back 130 target seasons with an average of 1,176.5 receiving yards.
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Would You Rather? Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods?
Bill Enright: Kupp in Round 3
Ben Heisler: Woods in Round 3/Round 4.