Fantasy

Texans’ Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks a Fantasy Tandem to Target

Stacking players in fantasy football is an extreme cheat code. Every point a stack scores is double-dipped, providing boom-or-bust upside. Top duos like Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs or Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce create a correlated stack that provides a higher upside than the individual players alone.  

In snake drafts, it can become difficult to complete these elite stacks because both players’ ADPs are high. It’s why hitting on late-round stacks becomes incredibly valuable. It becomes even more valuable in 2QB and best ball leagues, where elite quarterback play is a necessity to contend for a championship. 

It’s why I’m targeting the Texans’ Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks in my 2QB and best ball leagues. This stack is underrated with ADPs that don’t reflect their individual upside. All signs point to Mills and Cooks building upon their solid 2021 season with low-end QB1 and WR1 upside in later rounds, respectively.

In the final 5 games of the NFL season, Davis Mills scored the 10th-most fantasy points of all quarterbacks.

Quarterback Fantasy Points (Final 5 Weeks of 2022 NFL Season, from Sports Info Solutions [SIS])

Player Team Att Comp Yds TDs Ints Fantasy Pts
Josh Allen Bills 207 120 1191 10 5 129.7
Patrick Mahomes Chiefs 180 127 1455 12 1 117.3
Aaron Rodgers Packers 158 119 1237 14 0 108.0
Joe Burrow Bengals 141 107 1476 11 0 107.9
Dak Prescott Cowboys 180 123 1279 14 2 106.7
Justin Herbert Chargers 199 128 1467 11 4 106.0
Tom Brady Buccaneers 211 138 1545 9 2 100.7
Russell Wilson Seahawks 141 85 1071 11 2 93.8
Kyler Murray Cardinals 210 136 1388 5 3 91.2
Davis Mills Texans 171 117 1258 9 2 84.8

Each quarterback above is being drafted top 10 at the position – with the exception of Davis Mills, who has an ADP that puts him at the QB30 [both FFcalculator and FantasyPros have him at this ADP]. Mills had four QB1 finishes, with two of those finishes coming during this five-game stretch. 

Mills doesn’t have the elite upside like Mahomes or Allen – which is why he can’t be trusted as your rock steady quarterback in 1QB leagues – but Davis Mills had a strong finish to the season, has legitimate QB1 upside and is virtually free at his ADP. Even if Mills finishes as a QB2, he’d still be exceeding expectations at ADP.

In those same final five games, Brandin Cooks was a top-15 WR. In weeks when Davis Mills and Brandin Cooks both started (10 games), Brandin Cooks was targeted on 29% of his routes. This ranks 10th of all WRs during this timespan (who played at least 5 games), ahead of Ja’Marr Chase (23%), Stefon Diggs (26%), CeeDee Lamb (20%), Keenan Allen (23%) and so many others being drafted ahead of him. 

He finished the season as the WR20.  His ADP has him mysteriously as low as WR26 [on Sleeper. I’ve seen his consensus around 22].

Cooks has yet to finish as low as WR26 in healthy seasons. The lowest Cooks finished in a full season was WR14; he’s finished as a WR2 or better in seasons where he’s played 15 or more games. He’s been a WR2 in back-to-back seasons. The only season in which he finished worse than a WR2 by PPG was his 2019 season, where he only had 48 touches on the season; a number he nearly doubled in 2021. Cooks’ 92 touches in 2021 were tied for his most in a season. He’s producing at as high a level as he ever has.

Texans WR Brandin Cooks Fantasy Points per Season (from PlayerProfiler and Pro-Football-Reference)

  

  Season

.5 PPR Points Games Played WR Rank Touches PPG Rank
2014 112.8 10 57 60 22
2015 211.6 16 14 92 19
2016 207.3 16 9 84 9
2017 188.7 16 12 74 16
2018 203.2 16 13 90 19
2019 96.5 14 62 48 67
2020 191.5 15 15 81 17
2021 186.8 16 (of 17) 20 92 19

Cooks is undervalued. Period. If you take one thing from this article: Cooks shows every sign of outperforming his ADP.

But what makes the tandem of Mills and Cooks so interesting in 2022?

Entering the 2021 season, the Texans mustered up just four wins with the 15th-hardest strength of schedule (SOS). The Texans are entering 2022 with the 19th-hardest SOS and Vegas win total line of 4.5 wins. That’s the lowest of any NFL team. The Texans aren’t even favored in a single game this season. 

This means negative game scripts. And a lot of them.

In 2021, the Texans ran the 7th-most plays with a win probability below 30%. The team passed the ball 71% of the time when faced with a negative game script and will pass a lot in 2022.

Brandin Cooks led the league in targets when down by 2 possessions in the 2nd half. His 63.5 fantasy points were the most among all WRs. The only WR that was targeted more (min. 100 routes run) was Cooper Kupp, who was targeted on 30% of his routes.

​​Targets & Fantasy Points when trailing in 2nd half (min. 30 targets, from SIS)

Player Targets Receptions Targets / Route Run Yards Fantasy Points
Cooper Kupp 32 23 30.5% 243 35.8
Brandin Cooks 47 34 28.8% 345 63.5
Diontae Johnson 41 24 27.9% 239 41.9
DJ Moore 44 21 27.2% 207 43.2
Elijah Moore 35 16 23.8% 157 35.7
Amon-Ra St. Brown 33 25 20.8% 260 44.5
Laviska Shenault 33 18 20.5% 206 29.6

Davis Mills threw 50% of his negative game script attempts to Brandin Cooks. Only one QB targeted a WR at a higher rate in negative scripts: Trevor Lawrence to Laviska Shenault (57 negative script targets on 97 attempts). Still, Mills scored twice the fantasy points per target to Cooks than the combo of Lawrence to Shenault did in these situations. Cooks scored 1.4x more per target than Shenault and 22.6 more points total on 3 fewer targets. 

The only receivers that scored more of their fantasy points in negative game scripts were Ja’Marr Chase and Diontae Johnson. Both receivers are being drafted ahead of Cooks as top-20 WRs.

When Mills targets Brandin Cooks in a negative script, Mills sees a 78% lift in fantasy points versus non-negative game scripts while Cooks sees a 106% lift. These are both top-3 numbers among duos with more than 90 total targets in 2021.

The Texans will be playing from behind a lot. As individuals, these players are heavily discounted and provide extreme upside.  As a stack, this duo will exceed expectations, making them an ideal QB2/WR2 stack in best ball and 2QB leagues.

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