What Can Patriots Expect From Brandin Cooks in 2017? Bet On It

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 8:06 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2017 8:06 PM UTC

No team has repeated as Super Bowl winner since New England in 2003-04, but the defending champion Patriots are clearly the team to beat in 2017 after a great offseason. Let’s examine a Bovada prop on one of their big acquisitions.

In the salary-cap era, Super Bowl winners are supposed to be worse the next season because it’s too expensive to keep a championship roster together. Other NFL teams are copycats and they are like piranhas when it comes to free agents of Super Bowl teams. Just look at the winners of Super Bowl 50, the Denver Broncos. Losing Peyton Manning to retirement was out of their control, but the Broncos took some big free-agent hits. Denver missed the playoffs in 2016, the team’s first time not playing extra football since 2010.

We all remember what Tom Brady and Co. did in Super Bowl LI on the first Sunday of February in Houston in staging the biggest comeback in the game’s history and beating the Atlanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime. Somehow, New England has won the offseason as well. The Patriots are now heavy +360 favorites on BetOnline’s NFL odds to repeat.

The team re-signed Donta’ Hightower, arguably the best linebacker on the market, and added Stephon Gilmore, rated the No. 2 free-agent cornerback. New England never takes a huge dip into free agency. Hightower even took less than the New York Jets offered.

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However, we are here to talk about New England’s trade acquisition of Saints receiver Brandin Cooks, one of the fastest players in the NFL. The Patriots gave up first- and third-round picks for Cooks, who is coming off back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons with New Orleans.

Bovada has two NFL props on Cooks’ 2017 season with Brady throwing to him: ‘over/under’ 900 yards and/or O/U 6.5 receiving touchdowns. All options are -120.

On the surface, this appears to be an easy NFL pick. Three players have recorded at least 75 receptions, 1,000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. Those are Cooks, the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. and Steelers’ Antonio Brown. Last season, Cooks tied for the NFL lead in receptions of 40 yards or longer with six. He had 18 catches on passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield. The last Patriots player to have that many was Wes Welker in 2011 with 19.

Cooks’ average yards per catch in 2016 was 15.0, which was 14th. New England’s Chris Hogan and Washington’s DeSean Jackson (now with Tampa Bay) led the league at 17.0 ypc. Cooks’ 98-yard TD reception against the Oakland Raiders was the longest in the NFL last year.

Cooks is Brady’s best deep threat since Randy Moss’ record-breaking season in 2007. That said, Cooks might not reach 75 receptions again because Brady has other good receivers in Hogan, Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell – I’m assuming Danny Amendola is released -- along with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen (also a trade addition), and pass-catching running backs James White and Dion Lewis. Only Edelman had more than 73 targets last year.

Cooks is expected to spend the majority of his time split outside as the team’s “Z” receiver. That will leave Hogan in the “X” role with Edelman in the slot. With his 4.33 speed, Cooks is going to hit on some big plays and should top 6.5 TDs if he plays all 16 games. The 900 yards could be tough to reach.

NFL Free Picks: ‘Over’ TDs, ‘Under’ YardsBest Lines Offered: Bovada
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