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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Amari Cooper No. 49

Amari Cooper comes in at 49 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) spikes to ball while celebrating his first quarter touchdown with receiver Amari Cooper (19) against the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium. Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was a lost one for the Dallas Cowboys after Dak Prescott went down for the year, but Amari Cooper still was a consistent fantasy player. He finished 15th in total PPR fantasy points in 16 games despite dealing with injuries and poor quarterback play. With Prescott back in 2021, can he get into the Top 10?

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official and often updated fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 49, Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys, WR

Cooper caught 92-of-130 passes for 1,114 yards and five touchdowns in 2020. The previous season, with Prescott healthy, Cooper caught 79-of-119 for 1,189 and eight touchdowns. A healthy season from both Cooper and Prescott will be one full of fantasy production, but how much?

Competition for touches

The Cowboys have a strong fantasy wide receiver crew with Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Lamb was also a first round pick in 2020 and looked good as a rookie. He could challenge Cooper for the lead in targets and fantasy points. Lamb caught 74-of-110 passes for 935 yard and five touchdowns his rookie year. Gallup should remain the No. 3 option while Cooper and Lamb fight for No. 1 targets.

Team offensive expectations

Expectations should be high, as the Cowboys put up big numbers under Prescott to start last season. Their win/loss record wasn’t good, but there was no doubt they could move the ball. Prescott threw for over 450 yards in three of his four healthy games in 2020.

What’s his upside?

In those four full games with Prescott in 2020 Cooper caught 37-of-51 passes for 401 yards and one touchdown. A full season of that kind of work would mean big numbers. Even if we expect Lamb to overtake him, his upside remains high in this offense.

What’s his downside?

Cooper’s downside is tied to his health and Lamb’s usage. Last season Cooper missed quite a bit of practice with ankle troubles. He had offseason surgery and could be limited in training camp. If the ankle trouble lingers, he could have trouble reaching his upside.

Projection

80 receptions, 120 targets, 1200 yards, 9 touchdowns