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Third stop on our conference by conference sleeper/bust tour of the NFL:
Sleeper: Amari Cooper OAK, ADP: 54th, 23rd WR
If recent history is a clue, this is an absolutely terrible pick. Why might you ask? Because there has not been a single WR (or TE) that has recorded a single 1,000 yard season for the Raiders since Jerry Rice did in 2002. That being said, this guy is a special talent. He is polished, skilled route runner that dominated college at Alabama. Does that remind you of anyone? What about Julio Jones?
Julio is a couple inches taller than Cooper and definitely faster, but Cooper is a better route runner than Julio coming out of college. All Julio did as a rookie was record 959 receiving yards and 8 TDs in 13 games as the Falcons #2 WR option. Cooper is already the #1 WR on his team, and should have plenty of opportunities to produce.
David Carr is no Matt Ryan, but he did show signs of a solid QB as a rookie. He finished his rookie season with 3,200 passing yards, 21 TDs and just 12 INTs. That was with very little at WR. Crabtree is an improvement at the #2 WR spot, and Cooper is the best WR Carr has ever had.
These two are both sleepers in my opinion this season, and should be quite the duo for years to come. I believe Cooper easily gets the first Raider 1,000 yard season since 2002, and could even contest for their first double digit receiving TD season since Tim Brown in 2000.
Other AFC West players I like at their current ADP: Philip Rivers 135th, 14th QB, David Carr 155, 25th QB, Branden Oliver 71st RB, Ladarious Green 25th TE
Bust: Melvin Gordon SD, ADP: 37th, 16th RB
It isn’t very common for a rookie running back to come into the league and really put up great fantasy stats. I would buy Gordon as a Flex option or a 3rd running back that you play the match ups with, but to currently be going as a mid RB2 is way too high for my liking. If you take the 16th best RB last season (points per game), Gordon would have to average over 11 fantasy points per game to live up to that draft status.
Also, Melvin Gordon does have some competition for carries. Branden Oliver, Donald Brown, and Ronnie Brown are all RBs whom have contributed for the Chargers. Melvin Gordon only had 20 receptions in two seasons as the starter at Wisconsin, and with Danny Woodhead still in SD, it is very unlikely he will contribute at all in the area of the game.
I know he contributed at a high level in college in a solid conference, but the NFL is a whole new beast. I understand the hype, but to draft him over Carlos Hyde, Frank Gore, Andre Ellington, Joique Bell and maybe even Jonathan Stewart is just too high for me at running back. Middle of the fourth round, I am looking elsewhere.
Other AFC West players I will avoid at their current ADP: Keenan Allen 52, 21st WR, Travis Kelce 58th, 4th TE