You're Betting Off (Jared) Cooking with Different Ingredients
On the heels of a big 2018 breakout, Jared Cook now takes his talents to New Orleans, his fifth team over 11 NFL seasons. On the surface, Cook’s fantasy prospects look bright and strong as he upgrades massively at quarterback. Drew Brees remains one of football’s most efficient passers, and last year the Saints offense produced 13 more points per game than Cook’s Raiders.
Still, for every pro-Cook narrative, there’s a red flag or two. Cook underwhelmed for nine seasons before erupting last year in a timid Raiders offense that relied heavily on short passing. And even though his new passer has rewritten the NFL’s book on efficiency, there’s not nearly as much passing volume in New Orleans as there once was. Entering a run-rooted offense with several better mouths to feed, Cook may be staring down a disappointing 2019 follow-up. The tight end position is sparse and volatile in fantasy, but it’s hard to see much upside in his seventh-round ADP. There’s simply better upside (and similar floors) in a handful of later names.
A TRUE BREAKOUT...THEN A MASSIVE SHIFT
Cook finished 2018 as the Raiders’ top producer in the passing game. His 68 receptions tied for the team lead and his 896 yards led the pack, thanks to an 18.2% target share that landed among the league’s highest at tight end. Prior to that explosion, though, Cook had never been an elite producer for anyone. He’d never topped 54 catches in a season, and he hadn’t broken the 700-yard barrier since 2011.
In Oakland, Cook feasted in a passing game that lacked (a) downfield talent and (b) the desire to stick in the pocket and test defenses beyond the short seams. It was little surprise to see the tight end spot targeted so heavily in such a bare-bones attack. In New Orleans, Cook will work in a very different offense with far different priorities. It’s hard to envision Cook dragging both those volume and efficiency spikes with him across the country.
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