Pick-a-Player: Cobb, Funchess, Kupp - Footballguys

Footballguys staff and Facebook answer a dilemma at the 8.03 spot

The premise of a Pick-a-Player question is as follows:

  • You need a player at that position and all three are available.
  • The draft is at a stage where these players are usually drafted, and none of their bye weeks are duplicated on your current roster.

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In this case, it is a PPR league, and you are up at Pick 8.03. Would you take Randall Cobb, Devin Funchess, or Cooper Kupp? Or would you pass on all three?

The Results

And the winner is Funchess - barely. See the percentages below.

Group
Percentage Picking...
Cobb
Funchess
Kupp
None of the Three
Footballguys Staff
9.1%
45.5%
36.4%
9.1%
Footballguys Facebook
19.0%
35.7%
28.6%
16.7%

The Reasons (from the Staff)

Daniel Simpkins: I would pass on these guys for the likes of Kerryon Johnson or Isaiah Crowell. If forced to take a receiver in this range, I would probably opt to have DeVante Parker over any of these guys. He's really the guy with the best chance of having true WR1 targets and numbers by the end of the year.

Jason Wood: For me, it's Randall Cobb. It's been four years since his top-10 season, but Jordy Nelson is gone and Aaron Rodgers is healthy. Funchess overachieved last year and D.J. Moore is the future No. 1 on a team that doesn't pass enough to support multiple fantasy receivers (particularly with Greg Olsen also in the mix). Kupp is a talent, but the Rams aren't a prolific passing team and now have an immense investment in Brandin Cooks. It's not possible for both Kupp and Robert Woods to live up to ADP expectations, and I'm not sure which one is going to be the disappointment so I would rather skip them both.

Chad Parsons: Devin Funchess is my choice of the trio. I seek chances at No.1 receivers on their depth chart, the easiest path to WR2 or better fantasy production historically. Cam Newton is a strong fantasy quarterback, which puts his No.1 option on the top-20 receiver path annually. Randall Cobb is the likely WR2 for Green Bay, which even for an elite fantasy quarterback, averages WR35-ish fantasy finishes as the secondary option. Plus, Cobb has been a shell of himself since his earlier peak on the physical side. Cooper Kupp is a quality WR2/3 in NFL terms, but the fantasy upside is minimal due to Robert Woods and especially Brandin Cooks in the mix this season on a spread-it-around Rams passing game.

Matt Waldman: I'll take Kupp. Cobb will lose secondary target status to Jimmy Graham and he will not be a red zone option. Funchess is the safest pick, but Kupp was a more frequent red zone option than most realize. He didn't convert on enough of them but it didn't stop the Rams from using him in this respect. Kupp was also an excellent red zone option at Eastern Washington, so this isn't some one-year thing.

Although Kupp wasn't pressed a lot last year, his percentage efficiency at defeating press coverage was among the best in the league and it fits how dominant he was against it in college. He was among the best against it that I have seen from a college player. I would not be shocked if he adds three to five touchdowns to last year's total due to a number of factors:

  • Building on last year's usage.
  • Brandin Cooks is bad against tight man coverage.
  • Cooks has never earned more than three red zone scores during a season.
  • Sammy Watkins had eight touchdowns last year and seven came in the red zone. Kupp is the best equipped to take this role over based on the routes the Rams used.

Folks are sleeping on Kupp and overvaluing Cooks.

Will Grant: Oh, this is a good question. Kupp is the guy I want to take because he had a great rookie season and should improve now with a full season under his belt. But as others have pointed out, he's still buried on the depth chart and his upside will be limited. A healthy Aaron Rodgers could get Randall Cobb back into the offense, but with Jimmy Graham now in the mix, Cobb will probably have a good but not great season. So that leaves me with Funchess as my choice for a wide receiver here. He'll enter the season as the clear #1 pass catcher in Carolina and he's had a couple seasons to work with Cam Newton and build some rapport. With 8.03, you're looking at a third wide receiver who can fill in for flex or bye weeks and not lose you much production - Funchess is that guy.

Justin Howe: Cobb is well below these guys for me. There's PPR appeal there, but nothing else. To me, Cobb looks like about 55% of the dynamic playmaker he once was. He's slowed down tremendously, averaging a pitiful 10.2 yards per catch over the last 3 years, with just 25 catches of 20+ yards. (For reference's sake: that's one fewer than Vernon Davis has produced.) Once a touchdown maker, he's scored just 12 times over his last 34 full games alongside Rodgers, and his rushing/returning production has cratered. I don't see a shred of real upside here, unless he's able to secure 120-ish targets. But that looks iffy, as Cobb is a bit of an injury magnet to boot. I'm also a bit concerned the Packers are able to squeeze in Dez Bryant or Eric Decker during camp; that would doom Cobb into PPR WR5 territory.

I'd take Kupp from this group. He's not heralded, but he's a big, powerful slot guy who's tough to redirect. Matt did a great job of breaking down his impressive rookie year, which saw him catch 70 passes over 16 games (playoffs included) and average 14.0 yards a pop. He looks poised to be the most consistent and projectible part of the Rams passing game, considering how well his skill set meshes with Jared Goff's.

Funchess isn't a bad play here, either. He's not consistent, but those who think the die is cast should recall that he just turned 24 this May. He's already best-ball gold with his absurd career touchdown rate of 14.5%; Funchess can go up and get it at an elite clip. I love D.J. Moore, but he profiles best, at least for 2018, as a complementary target. A dynamic slot guy, Moore will probably compete more with Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olsen for bread-and-butter targets than with Funchess.

Ryan Hester: My choice around this tier would realistically be these guys or a tight end such as Trey Burton or Jordan Reed.

Since I prefer more late-round tight ends than late-round wide receivers, I'd let positional scarcity drive me towards the receivers. Funchess is the player I would take among this trio. Olsen is getting too old to be a consistent threat to Funchess' value, and Moore is too young to overtake Funchess immediately.

Bob Henry: Cooper Kupp for me. I've long been a Randall Cobb fan and I don't disagree that there is top 10 potential there with Jordy gone and Rodgers back to health. I just don't trust Cobb to stay healthy and I also think Adams and Graham are much, much more likely to get the red zone targets given their ridiculous production and efficiency there compared to Cobb.

I've watched Funchess's tantalizing size and speed since he was in 10th grade at nearby Farmington Harrison high school. Long on talent and upside, he finally blossomed last year with WR1 production. Hopefully, he has turned the corner for good and he can stave off the spate of injuries that derailed him numerous times before in his career at Michigan and Carolina. The talent, but there's a legitimate concern for a drop in targets with McCaffery absorbing so many high percentage looks, Moore's addition opposite him and the return of Cam Newton's long-time favorite target Greg Olsen. Never the less, I won't argue with folks who go for his upside as he probably has the highest of this trio.

That brings me back to Kupp. He's the safest pick here and his upside isn't all that far off Funchess but I think he also has the highest likelihood to lead this group in targets and he's already shown good red zone chops and chemistry with Jared Goff. I anticipate Kupp improving this year across the board (even with Brandin Cooks onboard) - targets, catches, yards, and touchdowns.

Phil Alexander: Here's how I know this is a great discussion:

I came in all set to write about how in the eight seasons Aaron Rodgers has started more than nine games, he's supported two wide receivers ranked within the top-24 at the position six times. And how since Rodgers became Green Bay's starter in 2008, no Packers rookie wide receiver has posted more than Davante Adams' 38 catches, 446 yards, or 3 touchdowns. With Jordy Nelson gone and the Packers trio of rookies essentially out of the mix for this year, I was fully on board with drafting Cobb here and hoping for a renaissance.

But then I read Matt's analysis and found myself nodding my head the entire time. The presence of Cooks to stretch defenses will allow Kupp to continue piling up receptions on slants, come-backs, rubs, and whips. And his touchdown upside is in the double-digits as Matt alluded to. Kupp ranked fifth in the league with 23 red-zone targets as a rookie, with seven of those looks coming from inside the opponent's 10-yard line. He may just be a dark horse candidate for 1,000-yards and 10+ touchdowns.

The bigger picture lesson - always trust your own research, but whether in life or fantasy football, reserve the right to change your mind when presented with new information you hadn't previously considered.

Andy Hicks: It is hard to trust Randall Cobb returning to the fantasy elite given his underachievement over the last three years. He is still young enough and has the incomparable Aaron Rodgers to help, but the other two options here present more upside.

Cooper Kupp is going to see volume, but Robert Woods, Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley and the tight ends make for a crowded receiving corp. His ultimate upside is likely to be capped and although it should be above his current ADP he does not have fantasy WR1 on his horizon.

Devin Funchess does, but he needs to make his move this year. The Panthers didn't spend a first-round pick on D.J. Moore because Funchess is a sure thing. Funchess is an ascendant talent though who showed big-play ability but was inconsistent. At this draft price, he will be worth the risk.