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Deja Vu: Who is This Year’s Cooper Kupp in Fantasy Football?

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When it comes to fantasy football, using the past to predict the future is something I love to do, especially when it comes to taking an analytical approach. While nothing is a perfect science when it comes to predicting sports, we know that if we can find someone in our drafts to repeat the success of certain players from last year such as Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp or Ja’Marr Chase, or avoid the disappointments from others, we will definitely have an advantage on our opponents as we saw the advantages that those results created last year. 

 

This “Deja Vu” series will be us doing our best to look at trends, metrics, and statistics from the last season that might indicate which players can repeat some of the outcomes that we saw from different players last year. 

Last article we talked about last year’s RB1 and used trends from previous RB1s to predict who might have a chance to hold that title at the end of this season, for this article let’s talk about who will be this year’s Cooper Kupp. Last year, Kupp scored 37 more fantasy points than any other player in PPR formats, and over 65 points more than any other non-QB.

Who Is This Year’s Cooper Kupp?

When looking for the next Kupp, we are looking for a WR who is being undervalued despite their WR1 upside. Last year, Kupp was drafted in the WR12-15 range, and obviously finished as WR1. So who fits that mold this year? 

First, let’s talk a little bit about the performance of Kupp and what his situation was during the season, but also how he was viewed in the pre-season during the draft time last year. 

Coming into last year, the Matthew Stafford trade obviously catapulted this Rams offense in terms of their upside, and while some definitely saw that which caused ADPs to raise, they clearly were not high enough on Kupp. The chemistry between Kupp and Stafford was much better than anyone could have predicted, as it was clear that Stafford was trying to get the ball into Kupp’s hands as often as possible, making players like Robert Woods, Tyler Higbee and eventually even Odell Beckham seem like distant secondary options in the Rams pecking order. 

To give a little bit of context as to what it takes to finish as the WR1, let’s take a look at the WR1s over the last five seasons: 

This brings us to our checklist of qualifications when searching for the next Kupp:

  • WR1 potential, but being drafted outside the top 10 WRs
  • Significant target upside, at least 10 targets per game
  • Elite QB play, above-average at worst
  • Elite scoring offense
  • TD upside
 

The Honorable Mentions

These are some of the names that fit the criteria, but ultimately just missed the cut:

Michael Pittman
A.J. Brown 
Keenan Allen or Mike Williams
Rashod Bateman

This Year’s Cooper Kupp

The above names are all candidates to be the breakout and assume the crown, so they all make for interesting targets this year. But my final pick for this year’s Cooper Kupp is … Courtland Sutton.

Courtland Sutton 2022 Deja Vu Fantasy Football This Year's Cooper Kupp

Sutton checks a lot of these boxes here, and the situation is eerily similar to that in Los Angeles last year where you have two strong WRs, an interesting third WR, and a couple of strong RBs as well, but the only missing piece to this equation was an elite QB to make everything to come together — and that’s exactly what the Broncos got this year with Russell Wilson. Wilson will get plenty of weapons around him in Denver and an offensive-minded head coach who is expected to open up the passing game more, and that should only help Courtland Sutton.

Since 2017, Russell Wilson has produced a top 15 WR every year except for last season, when he missed several games with an injury. In 2019, he produced two WRs in the top 11 including DK Metcalf, who was WR5. Sutton is the Denver version of Metcalf. Sutton is being drafted in the WR16-18 range on Underdog, but he is currently outside of the top 20 WRs on sites like ESPN, Yahoo and Sleeper. It’s really difficult to put a ton of stock into last year’s numbers when trying to determine who will be the WR1 in Denver, as they had a major QB and coaching unit change, but last year Sutton slightly edged out Jerry Jeudy on a target-per-game basis. My chips are on the table with Sutton leading this team in targets, and I do believe that this Denver team will have at least one top 12 WR.

Now, the reason why I really relate this case to Kupp from last year is that the presence of both Sutton and Jeudy is making it difficult for the public to determine who will be “the guy” here, but as we saw last year with Kupp, if you decide correctly, the upside is massive and if Sutton does indeed himself in the “Metcalf” role of a Wilson offense, he not only has WR1 on his own team upside but WR1 upside in general. 

To clarify, a lot of the appeal in Sutton’s case is not based on stuff we have seen from him data/usage wise in the past but instead based on the changes that could occur with Wilson now at the helm for the Broncos. 

Previous Mid-Round Running Backs to Target in Best Ball Next Second-Year Scouting Report: Zach Wilson

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