Cooper was out-targeted by teammate Michael Crabtree in each of the last three seasons, but with Crabtree having left for Baltimore, Cooper is now the alpha dog among the Oakland wideouts and could see a significant bump in targets. New Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has been talking up his young receiver, saying that Cooper reminds him of a young Tim Brown. Cooper will only be 24 when the season begins and has already logged a pair of 1,000-yard seasons, so there may be considerably more upside to be tapped. Raiders QB Derek Carr said in the offseason that Cooper was playing hurt for much of 2017, which may explain the drop-off in production
With more than 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons, Cooper seemed to have an upward career trajectory, but he was largely a fantasy bust in 2017. Even accounting for the two games he missed due to a concussion and high-ankle sprain, his reception and yardage numbers were way down. His numbers would have been an unmitigated disaster if not for a Week Seven game against the Chiefs, in which he erupted for 11 catches, 210 yards and two touchdowns. With Crabtree gone, defenses can now make Cooper the focus of their coverage schemes
There’s still immense potential here, and the departure of Michael Crabtree could give Cooper the target boost he needs to ascend to the WR1 level. It might be a long time before Cooper is as affordable as he will be this year.