by Chip Bayless
- Amari Cooper
For most, you drafted Cooper with the expectation that he would be a legitimate WR1 in PPR scoring, and at the very least he would be a solid WR2. Cooper was ranked as the 20th overall player available in ESPN standard drafts. However, Cooper is currently ranked as the 51st overall wide receiver in ESPN PPR scoring.
The entire Raiders offense sucked last week, so Cooper’s struggles last week were not entirely his fault. But, Cooper has dropped far too many passes so far. Cooper has already accumulated six drops through three games, which is three more than any other receiver, per Pro Football Focus. This week he has a tough matchup against the Denver Broncos so if he gets back on track it probably won’t even be this week.
An immensely talented and young wide receiver struggling with drops? Color me fucking shocked. Cooper is one of the best athletes at the receiver position in the entire league. He will probably be fine in the long run despite his early dearth of production. After this week against Denver, you should start Cooper against the Ravens defense that just let Blake Bortles shred them for four touchdowns. One final point about Cooper: when his production eventually goes up, defenses will not be able to key on Cooper each game because of the bounty of playmakers in the Oakland offense.
2) DeMarco Murray
Murray owners expected top 10 RB numbers upon drafting him. In fact, he was ranked as the 8th best running back available in ESPN standard drafts. Thus far he is currently ranked as the 21st overall back in PPR scoring. The only reason Murray is even ranked that high is because of a 75 yard touchdown run last week. He has a decently tough matchup against the Texans this weekend, a defense currently ranked 8th against the run according to ESPN.
50/50 chance Murray returns to the must-start status he once garnered. There are a few reasons I say this. First, the Titans were basically splitting the touches 60/40 between Murray and Derrick Henry, respectively. Additionally, so far this year Henry has been far more effective and productive than Murray.
Granted, Murray was nursing a bad hamstring last game and the previous game. All that being said, he did have a 75 yard touchdown with a bad hamstring, and he did put up over 1,600 total yards and 12 touchdowns just a season ago. Don’t be surprised if this ends up being the year Henry takes over the lead-back role in Tennessee. By the same token, don’t be surprised if Murray returns to solid RB1 form either.
3) Terrelle Pryor
Let me guess, the minute Pryor landed in Washington after Desean Jackson left you had your sights set on him? You probably remembered Pryor was somehow a WR2 to low end WR1 inside of the dumpster fire that was the Cleveland Browns last season. Now he is on a team that actually passes the ball well and has a quarterback who isn’t absolute trash. He is also 6 foot 4, ripped out of his mind, fast, and he is flat out one of the best athletes, not just receivers, in the NFL today. He ran a 4.4 forty yard dash in high school, per Rivals.com.
You put all of this together and thought wow, Pryor is going to have the breakout year of his career and he might even put up top 10 receiver numbers this year. Me too. Pryor was projected to be the 14th overall receiver this year. Currently, he ranks as the 67th overall receiver in PPR. The reasons for this difference between projection and actual production is obvious to those of us watching.
Pryor simply lacks some of the subtleties of the receiver position (this is understandable considering he used to be quarterback). Each game he blows opportunities because of either drops (dropped a long touchdown in week one), poorly run routes, or fading away from the ball instead of attacking it and coming back to it. The targets are not even there at this point. Pryor has been targeted only 8 times over the past 2 games, per rotoworld.com.
Eventually, Pryor will be a top receiver in this league if a team is willing to be patient with him. He has proven that he is capable of running receiver-like routes and has the talent to be a starting receiver in the NFL. Although, he has also proven that he can do neither of those two things consistently yet. He will get coached up on his route running technique and ball skills as his career progresses. Pryor may not figure it all out this year, but I expect him to turn it around to the point where he is at least able to put up 1,000 yards this year.