Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp get no respect, NO RESPECT AT ALL; when they were kids their parents fed them with a slingshot. One time they met the Surgeon General and he offered them a cigarette. One time at an event their ties caught on fire and someone tried to put it out with an ax.
When discussing the top wide receiver duos in the league people tend to go with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, or Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, or CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. They might get to a few other duos before they land on Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Those two are among the most reliable receiver tandems in the league so much so that they’re seemingly an afterthought. So why is that? Well, there are three main reasons that cause Woods and Kupp to get less respect than an inanimate carbon rod.
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have played four years together and spent all those years with Jared Goff, minus of course that one week with the Wolf of Ball Street, and in that time Woods has amassed 4,070 yards, 19 TDs, and 322 catches. Kupp has garnered 3,570 yards, 288 catches (he lost the end of his 2018 season to injury), and 24 TDs.
That’s pretty solid compared to the Tampa duo of Evans and Godwin, the stats aren’t that dissimilar. Evans over the same stretch of time has 4,688 yards, 33 TDs, and 355 catches. Godwin has 355 catches 3,540 yards, and 24 TDs. The difference is the Tampa guys have played with Jameis Winston and Tom Brady their whole career. Both of those guys can huck it deep whereas Goff couldn’t do it as effectively or consistently. Evans and Godwin can explode for big plays at any minute, same with their counterparts in Minnesota and Dallas. When players have that many highlight-reel plays they develop a reputation.
Woods and Kupp can explode too BUT because of Goff, there was a tendency for those plays to come few and far between. That’s not to say Goff was a bad quarterback, but especially towards the end, he didn’t give Woods or Kupp the best throws and thus they get lost in the shuffle.
Style Of Play
So Lamb, Jefferson, Evans, and everyone on the Chiefs while great route runners in their own right are also burners. Woods and Kupp on the other hand are praised more for their route-running ability and ability to get separation. Their style of play, while critically acclaimed, isn’t the kind of style that is as eye-catching. Sure, they both have some incredible catches but neither have really had their DeAndre Hopkins Hail Mary moments.
Again, this isn’t to say that their style of play is better and it’s the audience that’s wrong because who doesn’t love awesome bang-bang plays and that doesn’t negate the other skill sets those types of receivers have, but the media and audiences writ large don’t lose it over guys who can run crisp routes, block, and beat their defenders consistently. This leads to the last major reason that Woods and Kupp are often individually and collectively left out of the discussion of top-tier receivers.
Fantasy football is fun, addictive, frustrating, and a major driving force in the NFL’s popularity. It and its cousin Gamblor are two of the biggest reasons why the NFL is essentially Teflon. The downside of fantasy, aside from the heart attacks, rage fits, and the fact that fantasy is inherently random is the way it clouds perceptions of players.
Woods and Kupp are guys who will never be taken in the first or second round of a fantasy draft, or for the “grown-ups,” go for a lot in an auction draft. This means that while they are solid players that can help win a trophy, money, and the ire of the rest of the league, they aren’t players who the apps won’t allow to be cut. Does that mean they’re inferior? No, but in the minds of millions of fans, they’re just okay.
Once in a while, they’ll crush it, especially in PPR heavy leagues, but they aren’t the guys like Lamb, Evans, or even D.J. Chark who will grace the covers of fantasy magazines (if print magazines still existed). Fantasy is littered with players that are coveted because in a vacuum their stats are awesome but in reality, a lot of those numbers are empty calorie numbers that don’t result in wins.
Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp are among the most consistent duos the league has to offer. They are experts at getting open and because of their fundamentals (which some would say is a crutch for the untalented) are able to separate and make big plays. Unfortunately, because they aren’t asked to be home-run threats they get lost in the shuffle. The good news for them is that with Matthew Stafford being more capable of bombing it deep than Goff, the potential is there to catch more eyeballs.
Sean McVay wants the offense to be more explosive than the third act of “Django Unchained” so that bodes well for everyone involved (especially if it ends with rings) and will allow for them to be taken higher or for more money in fantasy drafts.
The other bit of good news is that Woods and Kupp share a similar situation to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce who were regarded a bit higher but would later get lost individually, and as a pair as Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and more dynamic receivers of their generation became prominent. This bodes well because while they don’t come first in everyone’s mind they still made the Hall of Fame (well Holt hasn’t yet but it’s only a matter of time) and that’s the ultimate level of immortality.