The Dallas Cowboys kick off their 2019 NFL season at home against the New York Giants in Week 1, and while the availability of their franchise running back remains in limbo, it's looking like their top wide receiver will suit up against the division rival.
Amari Cooper, who Dallas acquired midseason last year via trade from the Oakland Raiders, has been hampered by a left foot injury throughout training camp, which team officials have categorized as a "muscle strain". While he is not yet 100 percent, Cooper told reporters on Labor Day that he should be good to go for the season opener.
Monday marked Cooper's return to practice after sitting out nearly a month to nurse the injury. The star receiver reportedly feels no pain in his foot, and while he was running full speed at practice, there could still be some uncertainty around whether Cooper can make cuts and run all his routes.
After a hot start to his career, with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Cooper languished for a few years in Oakland before the trade that brought him to Dallas. Playing with Dak Prescott, Cooper was reborn as a Cowboy, catching 53 balls for 725 yards and six touchdowns in nine games last season.
The early offseason fantasy hype had Cooper as a surefire second round pick, but his foot injury has pushed him down to the third and fourth rounds of most drafts, as he is the WR12 (34th pick overall) according to average draft position (ADP) data at FantasyPros.com.
While Cooper may not be 100 percent to start the season, he has tremendous upside given his production with Dallas last year, coupled with the Cowboys having a favorable schedule for the passing game, according to Evan Silva of Establish the Run.
Cooper could also benefit from the emergence of second-year WR Michael Gallup, who should force defenses to focus less on Cooper as the only threat in the passing game. Of course, the hopeful return of All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliott could also benefit Cooper tremendously, forcing defenses to respect that Dallas rushing attack, providing more favorable looks for the passing game.
Still, the more cautious drafter may opt to play it safe in the third round by drafting a WR with a higher floor like Stefon Diggs, Julian Edelman or a pair of Rams receivers in Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. If you're chasing upside, however, 2019 has all the makings of a career year for Cooper if his injury proves to be only a minor issue.
Dallas' Week 1 matchup with the Giants should also help Cooper open the season with a bang if he suits up, and he sits 13th at WR in our Week 1 fantasy football rankings.
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