One of the most difficult tasks in drafting a fantasy football team
is trying to decide between two players you feel have nearly identical
value. Knowing how to break such a “tie” can be important, as often
a pick comes down to a dilemma between Player A and Player B. The
purpose of this article is to not only identify players of similar
value in 2019, but also take a look at the process of solving those
dilemmas. This week, our search for truth takes us to a couple of
Both Keenan Allen and Amari Cooper have enjoyed some success thus
far in their NFL careers mixed in with a little hardship, too. Both
are on teams that should still be playing meaningful regular season
games come December. And, both have shown a penchant for “monster”
games in terms of receptions, yardage, and touchdowns. So, who has
the upper hand? Let’s dive in:
Your league scoring system may play a huge
factor in deciding between these two top-end WRs.
Allen is one heavily targeted receiver. After missing nearly
all of 2016, Allen remained healthy each of the past two seasons
and has been targeted in the passing game by Philip Rivers a whopping
295 times. That is tied for fifth most over that span with Michael
Thomas, trailing only DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown,
and Jarvis Landry.
He and Rivers have now played together for six seasons allowing
the type of chemistry to develop that leads to frequent looks
in the passing game. Allen was also used 9 times on rushing plays
in 2018 to the tune of 75 yards. That might not seem like much,
but it underscores just how much the Chargers want the ball in
his hands. The emergence of Mike Williams should also keep defenses
honest in defending Allen. That should allow him to once again
approach the 100 reception mark in 2019 as he’s done each
of the past two years (102 and 97 respectively).
Cooper is not targeted as much as Allen given that Dallas is
essentially a run-first team, but he did make the most of his
targets the first year in Dallas scoring a reception 70% of the
time as compared to 67% for Allen. Additionally, Cooper averaged
nearly a yard and a half more than Allen per catch indicating
a greater ability to break off big plays (5 career TDs of 87 yards
Cooper’s 9 games in Dallas also resulted in as many receiving
touchdowns as Allen was able to achieve in a full 16-game slate.
Whereas the Chargers have several mouths to feed in the passing
game, there’s little dispute who is first at the feeding
trough in Dallas.
One could argue that an off-season to work out any chemistry
issues with Dak Prescott can only favor Cooper as well. He’s
found something in Dallas that just wasn’t there in Oakland
and with a new contract likely coming at some point during or
after the season, his motivation couldn’t be higher.
I noted it indirectly in discussing Cooper, but Allen doesn’t
find the end zone like an elite fantasy option at the wide receiver
position. In 70 career games, he’s only caught 28 TDs which equates
to merely 0.4 TDs per game over that span. Granted, Cooper is
only marginally better, but the development of Mike
Williams combined with the re-emergence of Hunter
Henry includes two guys who offer better red zone value than
Allen. There’s little doubt Allen will remain a force between
the 20s, but he’s hardly the only game in town near the goal line.
Don’t expect the TD totals to improve from his high of 6 the past
two seasons. After all, his career high is 8 and he hasn’t achieved
that since he was a rookie.
On the other side of the ledger, Amari Cooper has averaged 7.62
targets per game in the 61 NFL contests that he’s played.
That’s well below the nearly 9 targets Allen averages game
in and game out. Cooper simply hasn’t proven to be a high-reception
guy during his first four years in the league with 83 being his
high mark during his sophomore season with Oakland.
Michael Gallup showed promise last season, but defenses are still
going to make stopping Cooper their top priority on game day given
that Gallup is still learning the pro version of the position.
Plus, Jason Witten isn’t scaring anyone in his comeback
bid and in games that Dallas builds a solid lead (very possible
given their defense), they will lean heavy on the run, limiting
Based on the facts presented, could it be that the verdict in
this case simply comes down to scoring format? Standard non-PPR
leagues grant greater value to wide receivers who can rip off
yardage in chunks. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 catches
for 95 yards or 3 for 95 … the points are the same. And,
let’s face it: Cooper is far more capable than Allen of
achieving the latter given his propensity for huge yardage plays.
That being said, in PPR leagues where receptions carry value,
Allen has clearly proved to be the better option of the two. His
receptions over the past two seasons alone out-number Cooper’s
by 38 per season even while playing in only 3 more games than
Amari over that span. That equates to 380 extra receiving yards
needed per season by Cooper in leagues awarding one point per
So, the choice is…uh…clear. Allen gets the edge in
PPR while Cooper’s value in standard scoring is a bit higher.
And, if you need some sort of additional tie-breaker to convince,
watch and see which guy gets his star RB back on the field first.
With Melvin Gordon and Ezekiel Elliott still holding out as this
goes to press, both WRs could be asked to do more if those hold-outs
carry over into the season. In the end, you’re likely going
to be happy with either guy if they fall to you in the early to
mid-third round in a redraft league.