Amari Cooper will be 26 years old before the NFL season starts. He was born in Miami, Florida, and attended Miami Northwestern Senior high school. Despite missing most of his junior season with an injury, he still became one of his quarterback's primary targets, some guy by the name of Teddy Bridgewater.
Cooper had a fantastic performance at Alabama's summer camp before his senior season, which quickly led to an offer from Alabama. Cooper caught 33 passes for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns his senior year. He played in the 2012 Under Armour All-American game. In addition to football, he also ran track and played basketball.
Cooper was considered a four-star prospect, the #6 wide receiver in the state of Florida, depending on the ranking site. Cooper chose Alabama over Florida State, Miami and Ohio State. In his freshman season at Alabama, he played in all 14 games and led the team with 59 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns, beating Julio Jones' Alabama freshman records.
In his sophomore season, Cooper played in 12 games but missed two games due to injury (likely turf toe). He had an impressive year-736 yards receiving on 45 catches. Cooper set numerous single-season and career records in his junior season. In a game versus Tennessee, he broke the single-game receiving record at Alabama with 224 yards. On the season, he caught 124 passes for 1,727 yards and 16 touchdowns.
By the time he left Alabama, he was the all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He won the Biletnikoff Award and was a unanimous All-American selection and finished third for the Heisman Trophy behind Marcus Mariota and Melvin Gordon.
At the NFL Combine, Cooper measured 6' ?" and 211 pounds; he ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. He was considered one of the best wide receivers in the 2015 draft class, along with Kevin White (remember him?). The Oakland Raiders selected him with the fourth pick in the NFL Draft.
He played in all 16 games his rookie season, catching 72 passes for 1,070 yards and 6 touchdowns, breaking Hall of Fame Tim Brown's record for rookie receptions of 43. His 2016 season, he also played in all 16 games, catching a career-high 83 passes for 1,153 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Cooper's 2017 season saw him only play in 14 games as he struggled with a couple of injuries, including a concussion and a left ankle sprain. In 2018, Cooper played six games with the Raiders (22-280-1). Oakland had enough of him and shipped him off to the Cowboys for a first-round pick. His talent shined as he caught 53 balls for 725 yards and 6 scores.
During the 2018 season, Cooper suffered another concussion, causing him to miss one game.
Last season Cooper played in all 16 games, catching 79 passes for a career-high 1,189 yards and 8 touchdowns. Cooper sustained a few injuries. Plantar fasciitis in early preseason that kept him out the entire preseason. This likely lingered throughout the season as well. Cooper also injured his ankle in September but thankfully played the next game after getting reassuring news from an MRI.
Let's review some of Cooper's injuries over the years to get a proper evaluation of his overall health. He suffered a foot strain back in 2013 that he was able to recover from, and did not miss any regular-season games. In college, he also suffered a sprained toe, likely turf toe that caused him to miss a contest. In 2015, his rookie season in the NFL, he admitted that he deals with plantar fasciitis that he had been playing with for most of the season.
2017 was where Cooper suffered multiple injuries that caused him to miss two games, one with a concussion and another with a grade 2 ankle sprain. Cooper managed to play in the majority of the 2018 season despite suffering a pretty substantial concussion. Last season Cooper was banged up with multiple injuries, including plantar fasciitis in the summer that he likely chronically deals with, as well as an ankle injury that bothered him in the early part of the season. The knee strain in November wasn’t a concern, and while he was not 100%, he was able to play in every game this past season.
Out of all of these injuries, Cooper's plantar fasciitis is the one that he will likely continue to deal with and is the most critical injury to discuss in regards to him. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick ligament on the bottom of the foot connecting the heel to the toes. Most people describe this as a sharp, stabbing, and throbbing pain on the bottom of the foot near the heel. Some state that they feel as if they are walking on nails or glass. If anyone has had plantar fasciitis, then you understand the severity of this pain. It’s awful.
Some athletes, unfortunately, deal with chronic plantar fasciitis, whether it is due to a combination of their running style, training, or just their body structure. Hall of Fame baseball player Albert Pujols has dealt with plantar fasciitis the majority of his career. He states that some days he spends almost 2 hours preparing his feet just to play in that day's game. It can be this cumbersome and painful.
Unfortunately, this is likely going to continue to be an intermittent source of pain for Cooper, as this rarely goes away. Cooper will try to do everything he can to keep the plantar fasciitis under check. Unfortunately, he will likely have flares as he starts to ramp up his activities in training camp.
Most patients that present with a flare will be put on an oral steroid, immobilized in a Cam Walker Boot, and sometimes even use crutches or a wheeled-scooter for one to two weeks. Traditionally this is not an area you would inject with steroids, as they can increase the risk of rupture of the plantar fascia.
Some patients have benefited from regenerative medicine injections, including PRP and bone marrow aspirate/stem cells, into this area. While the procedure is quite painful, it can be beneficial. There is a surgery for this, but extreme, and most athletes will probably avoid having the surgery unless all other methods have failed.
During the offseason, the Cowboys signed Cooper to a massive contract extension, five years $100 million, with $60 million guaranteed. So it is safe to say he's not going anywhere.
Cooper is coming off his fourth 1,000-season in five seasons. He set career-best in touchdowns (8), yards (1,189), and fantasy points (246.5). Remarkably, Cooper has never finished higher than tenth in points but continues to show he is good for over 1,000 yards and seven-plus scores.
One of the most significant issues for Cooper is his target share, and this will get less. The Cowboys made CeeDee Lamb as their first-round selection. Now he is crowded with Michael Gallup, Lamb, Blake Jarwin, and Ezekiel Elliot.
It is also troubling that Cooper is matchup dependent. Four of his six worst performances came against excellent defenses. He also isn't getting the targets in the red zone. Cooper ranked 43rd among wideouts when it came to being the chosen near the goal line. He struggles to get open down low. The troubling aspect is his career-high in touchdowns could be his ceiling.
Cooper's floor is lower in PPR leagues because he is a deep-ball receiver averaging 15.1 yards per catch last season and 14.3 over his career. Also, he just doesn't catch as many passes as high-quality receivers in PPR leagues. Cooper won't catch 100 balls, or get over 150 targets, the most he has had is 132.
What Cooper does offer that is better than most in the league is his route-running skills. Dak Prescott will thrive on him getting to the point of attack, which will prevent the floor from completely bottoming out.
He will also have enough explosive games to keep him in contention as a top-12 wide receiver. Unfortunately, he just doesn't have the consistency to be trusted every week, which is why he is more of a WR2 than a WR1.
Wanting to look for Cooper's ceiling, you won't have to go much further than his 2019 season. Interesting is that his floor won't be any less than 2019 either.
He just isn't a player that will get a lot of action, and the crowd around him is denser. It is difficult to understand why the Cowboys decided to sign Cooper as his stats won't equate that vast contract.
Sports Injury Predictor gives him a 46.6% chance of injury in 2020, which translates to missing less than one game.
My (Dr. Morse) injury score for Cooper in 2020 is 4 out of 10. His history of concussions is mildly concerning, but unfortunately, there's only so much he can do about those. Thankfully he went through all of 2019 without suffering one.
Cooper is the clear-cut WR1 on the Cowboys. He has multiple talented other options around him. Including Gallup, Lamb, potential breakout tight end Blake Jarwin, as well as elite running back Ezekiel Elliott and sneaky back-up Tony Pollard. At the helm will be elite quarterback Dak Prescott. This offense is ready for success, and Cooper should be in for a fantastic season in 2020.
I (Dr. Morse) am not overly concerned about his history of injuries as he has been able to play through them. The plantar fascia will be what it is, but he's likely learned how to deal with it. While others might be scared about it, you shouldn't be. Knowledge is confidence.
Cooper is currently the 12th wide receiver off the board (late June). After finishing 2019 as the WR10 in PPR leagues. You can find him sandwiched between Kenny Golladay and Adam Thielen.
Cooper is better suited to be chosen as a WR2 as opposed to a WR1, but he has a top-10 wide receiver upside.
Injury Risk: Low. 4/10.
|Projected Missed||Probability of injury per game ?||Probablity of injury in the season ?|
|Nov 4, 2019||Knee Patella Sprain||Cooper was on the sideline with a knee injury. He returned to the game. He was limited in practice in the following days. Managed to play the next game|
|Oct 13, 2019||Leg Quad Bruise||Cooper was diagnosed with a thigh bruise that knocked him out of the loss to the Jets. He played the next game|
|Sep 25, 2019||Pedal Ankle Sprain/Pull Unspecified Grade 1||Cooper (ankle) was limited in practice for two days, had an MRI on his ankle. The results came back negative. He was available for next game|
|Aug 3, 2019||Pedal Foot Sprain||Amari Cooper was sidelined until the team's opener Sept. 8 against the Giants with a foot injury. A foot injury kept him out of the preseason since Aug. 3.|
|Dec 10, 2017||Pedal Ankle Sprain Grade 2||Cooper aggravated his left ankle sprain early against the Chiefs and missed another game.|
|Nov 26, 2017||Head Cranial Concussion Grade 1||Cooper sustained a concussion in the same game in which he sprained his left ankle.|
|Nov 26, 2017||Pedal Ankle Sprain Grade 2||Cooper sprained his left ankle in the 2nd quarter against the Broncos and missed the next game.|
|Dec 10, 2015||Pedal Foot Plantar Fasciitis Grade 1||Cooper appeared on the injury report Thursday of Week 14 with a foot injury. It was later revealed he played through plantar fasciitis "most of the year," which worsened in December.|
|Oct 1, 2013||Pedal Toe Dislocation||In college, Cooper missed a game with a sprained toe.|
|Aug 13, 2013||Pedal Foot Sprain||Amari Cooper missed a week of offseason training due to a strained foot. The injury hobbled throughout the season but did not constrain him from playing in any games.|