Originally, this article was going to be a “sell-high” article, which included names like Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Chris Godwin. While I would like to get into that some other time, I did have another name on that list initially and it was Cooper Kupp.
I started typing it out, so sure that I was on to something. I noted that Kupp is still going to be good, but I am not sure that he could still be great (from a fantasy football perspective). I had convinced myself that there is no better time to sell Kupp because of what you could get for him, but I think that process was completely wrong. After further research, I did a full 180 on my stance on Cooper Kupp, and have deemed him a “must buy” (or at least a “must hold”) rather than a guy you should be selling this off-season.
Let me start by saying that there is almost no possibility that he repeats the performance he had in 2021. To put things into perspective, Kupp had a top-three all-time performance at the position, leading the league in targets (184), receptions (138), yards (1,829) AND touchdowns (15). That is unprecedented and his value will never be higher than it is right now. Which is exactly why I initially thought I should brand him as a sell.
However, there is no doubt in my mind that Kupp will remain firmly in the Top-10 receivers for the next year or two, though I have to admit that expecting him to repeat as even a Top-3 fantasy receiver seems very optimistic, so there a tiny part of me that would sell him for the right price. That being said, guys like Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and Stefon Diggs were being sold for multiple first round picks and talented assets last season (and they still are). And Kupp, after finishing as the mere WR26 in 2020, put together a stellar season to propel himself into that echelon as well. His level of success is unsustainable, and while Matthew Stafford is fantastic for Kupp’s fantasy value, we can’t possibly expect to see a season of this caliber ever again from Kupp, right?
In 2022, the Rams will come back healthy. Kupp will be sharing the field with Robert Woods and Odell Beckham Jr. (which, given the untimely manner of Woods’ injury, Kupp has not had to do simultaneously yet). The Rams will also be getting Cam Akers back and may likely go with a dual-threat of Akers and Darrel Henderson. I haven’t even brought up Tyler Higbee either. The fact of the matter is, that offense when healthy, is crowded. While I do think Kupp will remain the focal point, there is no denying that his numbers are guaranteed to decline across the board. But let’s take a look at what those numbers could be.
A somewhat realistic early projection for Kupp in 2022 lands at around 150 targets, 113 receptions, 1,495 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is still obviously a tremendous season, but it is an optimistic projection. If he were to have had this stat line in 2021, he would’ve finished as the WR2 overall (328 fantasy points). Still sounds pretty damn good, right?
Well, what if I told you that I was working off of Kupp’s efficiency in 2021 and if we used his numbers in 2020 as the new model for projection, based on 150 targets his stats would only be 110 catches, 1,160 yards and five touchdowns. He’d still have 256 fantasy points which would’ve been enough to be the overall WR9 on the 2021 season. The point here is that even if we took his worst efficiency over the last three years (when Jared Goff was slinging the rock for LA), all signs point to him staying within the Top-10 receivers in 2022.
I tried my hand at a little experiment in my leagues, more specifically, the leagues that I have Cooper Kupp on my roster. The best offer I got? Someone offered me the #1 overall rookie pick in 2022 for Cooper Kupp. Sure, that may be tempting, but is it worth it? If you’re stuck in a massive rebuild, it might be, but for those that are even fringe contenders, this deal just doesn’t seem right to me.
Age is working against Kupp, as he’ll be 29 at some point next season, but that is PRIME age for wide receivers. I’d guess he’s got about another two seasons in him before his performance starts to decline in any significant way (it is worth noting that Stafford is only under contract in LA through the 2022 season, so things may get a little rocky at that point). Either way, I’d think that a guy that just posted one of the best receiving seasons in NFL history is worth more than one single rookie pick, especially a rookie pick in a perceivably weak class.
Whenever you consider selling a player of Kupp’s caliber, there’s a lot of factors you’ve gotta look at. Will my roster be a legit contender without him? Is the potential payoff of a young player (or more) worth trading away a top option right now? How mad would I be at myself if Kupp is a top-three receiver again next year and I traded him away? It’s all about assessing the risk/reward, and quite frankly, based on the offers I’ve seen for Kupp recently, I’d rather assume the “risk” of riding with him on my roster.
All in all, is Cooper Kupp a sell-candidate this off-season in dynasty leagues? My gut says no. Despite a massive season, people are not willing to fork up as much as he’s worth. Maybe people think that Kupp’s 2021 season is a fluke or even that Stafford’s season statistics are a fluke. Whatever it is, there is almost a “consensus of hesitancy” around Kupp right now and that makes selling him a very difficult task.
If anything, I’d look into buying Cooper Kupp this off-season. While he has led countless people to titles this season, there is a sense of “sell-high” on him right now because people know that he won’t be able to replicate the mass success he had found in 2021. However, there is still going to be great success for Kupp’s fantasy numbers and any level-headed fantasy manager would want that on their team in 2022.
Rookie fever is at an all-time high in the off-season, especially with guys like Najee Harris and Ja’Marr Chase having big seasons in their first years in the NFL. These next several months are going to be the best time to sell unknown rookie picks for established NFL veterans and I think Cooper Kupp is going to be one of the best values to get. According to my favorite trade calculator, Kupp is about equal to the rookie 1.01 (like I said, that doesn’t feel right to me) and there are a lot of people out there that might be happy to have a Top-3 rookie pick instead of Kupp. If you own one of those picks or even multiple late picks, I think you may be able to tempt the Kupp owner in your league. Will it work? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s worth a shot.
There is always a deal worth taking, but unless someone “overpays” for him, I think you’re better off with hanging tight. Do not give away Cooper Kupp in dynasty just because someone waves an early rookie pick in your face. Barring an injury there is almost no chance that he finishes outside of the Top-10 fantasy receivers in 2022.
Speaking as your residential Cooper Kupp owner, until I dug in deeper, I was considering him as a sell. So reach out to the Kupp owner in your league. Unless he reads this article, Kupp may be easier to acquire than you think.