At one point in 2022, it looked like Brandin Cooks might never play for the Texans again. He was tethered to multiple other organizations at the trade deadline but somehow not dealt, and then he missed Houston’s next game for personal reasons. However, the veteran WR — who is still just 29 years old — returned one week later and finished out the season with the Texans, although the saga at the trade deadline made it clear he was gone after the season. On Sunday, it finally became official when the Cowboys sent Houston two Day 3 picks for Cooks’ services. Let’s dig into what this trade means for fantasy purposes.
Old projection: 59.8 catches on 96.5 targets for 704.5 yards and 4.0 TDs
New projection: 62.0 catches on 97.3 targets for 786.8 yards and 4.9 TDs
- It’s a solid landing spot for Cooks, who showed last year he still has a lot left in the tank. He should immediately assume WR2 duties for one of the best passing offenses in the league. CeeDee Lamb proved he’s capable of handling an alpha role last year with a 28.0% target share and should be among the league leaders in that category again, but Michael Gallup struggled in his first year back from injury. That’s where Cooks comes in, as he should allow Gallup to play more of a field-stretcher secondary role rather than someone who is depended upon every week for significant volume.
- We are projecting a fairly decent efficiency uptick for Cooks now that he’s playing with Dak Prescott instead of presumably a rookie QB.
- Dalton Schultz is a UFA and his exit, once confirmed, will only add to Cooks’ projected target share. We generally project UFAs on the same team they were on unless it’s extremely clear they will not be back, so we still have Schultz siphoning a respectable target share from other Dallas pass catchers (although we are slightly lower on him than we would be if he wasn’t a UFA).
- Cooks should flirt with triple-digit targets and flex status as the WR2 in Dallas.
OTHER TEXANS PLAYERS
- Nico Collins is penciled in as the WR1 in Houston, although there’s still time for them to add another pass catcher. Collins flashed target-earning upside in his final four games of 2022 — and he actually out-targeted Cooks in three consecutive games from Weeks 10-12 last season (Collins had 26 total targets in those games; Cooks had 18). This passing offense will be a question mark overall with a rookie QB at the helm and some role fragility if the Texans add someone, but Collins is intriguing. At the same time, we knew Cooks wouldn’t be on the Texans’ roster in Week 1, so we don’t want to double-count the impact this move has on Collins. We already had him leading the team in target share and only barely increased his projection as a result of the Cooks trade.
- Houston acquired Robert Woods and Noah Brown this offseason too. Woods paced the Titans with a 20.0% target share last year, but Tennessee had myriad injuries to their WR corps and Woods was basically the last man standing. He’s currently a starting WR but lacks the upside of an ascending option like Collins. Brown struggled to earn targets as a starter for the Cowboys last year and looks like more of a depth piece at this point.
- John Metchie is the wild card in this WR room after missing last year with leukemia. Nick Caserio has said that he may be ready for the team’s offseason program, and the 2022 second-round pick could factor in immediately given Houston’s depleted WR corps. He’s difficult to project because there is so much uncertainty surrounding his future, but reports have generally been sunny and he could be a riser over the summer if we hear he’s going to be ready to play a lot come September.
OTHER COWBOYS PLAYERS
- This is increased target competition for Lamb, but he’s mostly safe as the no-doubt WR1 for one of the league’s best offenses. On the other hand, Michael Gallup struggled to earn targets in his first year back after a major injury and now falls to WR3 on the depth chart behind Lamb and Cooks. He could regain the form he had pre-injury after another offseason of recovery, but his path toward weekly fantasy relevancy is now murkier.
- Schultz remains a UFA, leaving Jake Ferguson as Dallas’ current TE1. It’d be a fairly crowded target tree if Schultz re-signs, but he may be out of the Cowboys’ price range at this point.