Dynasty Cross Section: Cooper Kupp vs. Josh Reynolds

Dynasty Cross Section: Cooper Kupp vs. Josh Reynolds

In this edition of Dynasty Cross Section, an in-depth comparison of teammates Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds is discussed.

I would like to start by acknowledging that based on last year’s production Kupp is clearly the better receiver of the two. This discussion is to display a few interesting comparisons, so let’s get started. Both of these Rams receivers were drafted in 2017 and are going into their third year with Kupp having been drafted in the third round and Reynolds in the fourth.

Here are their draft profiles:

  • Cooper Kupp: Height 6’2”, Arm Length 31.5”, Weight 204lbs, Hands 9.5”
  • Josh Reynolds: Height 6’3”, Arm Length 31.5, Weight 194lbs, Hands 9.5”

I don’t believe many realize just how similar these two players are physically. I would like to propose that both of these players fill a specific role on the Ram’s offense. To show you, let’s continue by looking at these two players’ stats from last year side by side. Kupp played eight games and Reynolds scored 93% of his fantasy points in the eight weeks without Kupp, so let’s compare both eight week productions (.5 PPR).

  • Kupp: 56 targets, 40 receptions, 6 touchdowns, 566yds, 115.1fpts, 8 games
  • Reynolds: 53 targets, 29 receptions, 5 touchdowns, 402yds, 79.3fpts, 8 games

Clearly, Kupp was much more productive through eight weeks than Reynolds, and the fact that Reynolds was non-existent before Kupp’s injury shows the prioritization on the depth chart. However, look at the usage of the two: 56 to 53 targets and 6 to 5 touchdowns. Given the similar athletic profiles above, this usage is weirdly similar for two players who are perceived to have completely different fantasy values. It is interesting that even after Kupp’s injury the targets and touchdown production of the overall offense was almost unaffected once Reynolds took over.

I believe this usage may carve out the details of a current role that is available alongside Cooks and Woods on the Ram’s offense regardless of the player filling it. I also believe this idea of a role is why I might have a potential answer to the following question: Which Rams receiver is going to take the biggest production hit from last season?

For my next statistical breakdown, I have extrapolated a full season of Kupp’s production without regression consideration. Let’s compare this to the production of Cooks and Woods from 2018.

  • Cooks: 117 targets, 80rec, 5td, 1204yds, 203.2fpts (including some rushing)
  • Woods: 130 targets, 86rec 6td, 1219yds, 222.6fpts (including some rushing)
  • Kupp (extrapolated for an entire season): 112 targets, 80rec, 12td, 1132yds, 225.2fpts

This extrapolation seems very accurate as it would place Kupp in the same vicinity for targets, receptions, and yards with Cooks and Woods. However, the outlier here is twelve touchdowns compared to five and six. This is where we answer the question. The Ram’s offense is clearly strong enough for these touchdown numbers to be sustainable, especially if they repeat their NFL wide top twelve passing attempts from last year. If we assume Cooks and Woods sustain that production, I believe that Reynolds has displayed his red zone ability and with his known talent, draft capital, and youth he will be on the field at least on occasion. To further support that notion, Kupp is not fully healthy as of Week 2 of the pre-season which provides Reynolds time to work with the first team on red zone drills in camp.  Together, this would make it seem irrational that Reynolds would be a complete non-factor once Kupp is healthy (like last season).

All that being said, it is likely that if Reynolds has any increase in production it will predominantly take away from Kupp due to the role they play in this McVay offense. I am not saying a shared workload ruins Kupp’s value. However, it does affect him more so than people realize.

To display this theory let’s put numbers to it. I think it is fair to assume that Kupp will not be on his top ten fantasy pace in 2019.  If we look at Jared Goff’s previous production, he has never had a receiver with more than 8 touchdowns (Sammy Watkins 2017). Going off of those numbers, let’s say Kupp gets eight this year.

In the history of the NFL, there have only been five teams that have sustained three 1,000 yard receivers. The latest was the Cardinals in 2008, making it highly unlikely the Rams will do that this year. Since Cooks has four consecutive years of a thousand yards, and Woods led the team in targets last year, Kupp will most likely be the one to miss the mark.  However, since 2009 there have been seven instances of teams supporting two 1,000 yard receivers and a third receiver above 900 yards. Therefore, we can be optimistic and say Kupp gets 900 yards.

The last variable is catch percentage.  Woods and Cooks had a catch percentage of 68% and 66% respectively.  Without taking away targets, if we give Kupp a 65% catch rate and apply it to his extrapolated targets from last season he would have 71 receptions.  If we combine all of this and compare it to last year’s receiver production, we get:

  • 20. Calvin Ridley: 92 targets, 64 receptions, 10 TD’s, 821 yards, 174.8 fantasy points (.5 PPR)
  • 21. Kupp: 112 targets, 71 receptions, 8 TD’s, 900 yards, 174.5 fantasy points (.5 PPR)
  • 22. Kenny Golladay: 119 targets, 70 receptions, 5 TD’s, 1,063 yards, 172 fantasy points (.5 PPR)

I believe this stat line may be on the optimistic side; however the receivers around him seem reasonable.  This would also be 78% of his extrapolated pace from last year, leaving 50.5 fantasy points (22%) left that could go to Reynolds. I understand that Reynolds will also take away from the other receivers, and if we hypothetically consider Reynolds’ impact on Cooks and Woods (let’s say he takes 10rec, 50 yards, and 0.5 td from each), plus the leftover receptions and production from Kupp’s role, he finishes with 74.5fpts. Here is what that would look like in the context of last year:

  • 81. Chris Conley: 52 targets, 32 receptions, 5 TD’s, 334 yards, 75.4 fantasy points (.5 PPR)
  • 82. Josh Reynolds: X targets, 29 receptions, 5 TD’s, 300 yards, 74.5 fantasy points (.5 PPR)
  • 83. John Ross: 58 targets, 21 receptions, 7 TD’s, 210 yards, 74.4 fantasy points (.5 PPR)

In this case the receivers around him demonstrate how easy it would be for Reynolds to outplay his current dynasty value. Of course, this will be more likely if Kupp starts the season not 100% healthy, or if one of the other receivers gets injured. However, there is enough to go around, even with a completely healthy receiving core. If Reynolds can take some touchdowns and targets away from Kupp, and even steal some targets from Cooks and Woods, then there is plenty of opportunity to breakout.

On the other hand, Kupp has already shown he is a promising young receiver. The only issue is that Reynolds is a physically similar receiver capable of splitting one clear red zone role and usage in LA. Along with this, his specialty (touchdowns) is the hardest fantasy statistic to predict and to depend on for consistent fantasy production. There is also the fact that he is the receiver with the most injury history and may not start the season fully healthy. I believe whether he is a bust or not depends on expectations. If you are expecting a week in and week out top 20 receiver then I believe he will be a bust. Whereas if you temper expectations to a valuable locked and loaded top 28 receiver with weekly touchdown upside, I believe you’re going to be very happy.