Jared Cook to NOLA: Fantasy Impact
Jared Cook to NOLA: Fantasy Impact
Jared Cook signing in New Orleans immediately puts him in the conversation to be one of the top tight ends in fantasy. Cook finished as the TE5 last year with Derek Carr as his quarterback. Drew Brees is obviously an upgrade and with the lack of a true WR2 in New Orleans, he could be primed for a big increase in production.
Drew Brees Tight End History
Drew Brees loves having a stud tight end. In 8 of his 17 seasons as a starter, Brees has propelled his TE1 to a top 10 finish. In 2004 and 2005 Antonio Gates finished as TE1 with Brees at the helm. Brees never really had a stud tight end in New Orleans until the arrival of Jimmy Graham in 2010. Drew Brees did have aging and injured Jeremy Shockey from 2008 to 2010 but he only managed finishes of 16, 16 and 20 respectively.
All Graham did with Brees was finish as a top-five tight end over the next five years. You can see the pattern Brees has with his tight ends from this nifty little tool courtesy of FFS. When he has a stud tight end, they feast.
Sean Payton Tight End History
Sean Payton doesn’t mind featuring a tight end in his offense. This only seems to happen when they are worthy of being featured. When the New York Giants drafted Jeremy Shockey in 2002 while Payton was the offensive coordinator, Shockey finished as the TE3. Payton spent the next three years in Dallas as the quarterback’s coach but resurfaced as a head coach for New Orleans in 2006.
I mentioned Jimmy Graham’s prowess above. Similar to Brees, when Payton has a competent tight end, he relies on them.
Jared Cook’s History
Jared Cook set a career high in targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns in 2018. He has always been long on talent but short on opportunity. The Oakland Raiders featured him heavily giving him 101 targets. This was good for 5th among targets for tight ends. He turned those targets into 68 catches, 896 yards, and 6 touchdowns.
Jared Cook was finished above the positional average in over half of his games played. At 6’5″ and 245 pounds he is a matchup nightmare. His 40-yard dash time was 4.49 at the 2009 scouting combine. That is exactly what Dalvin Cook ran in 2017.
A look at the spider charts from the combine show how freakishly athletic Jared Cook is. Here is the Cook vs. Cook combine charts from FFS.
Jared Cook did struggle at the end of 2018 or he may have passed Eric Ebron as the TE4. He actually had more catches and yards than Ebron, but fell short in the touchdown category.
With no true WR2 in New Orleans, we should see a spike in the 101 targets Cook saw in Oakland. Michael Thomas is entrenched as the WR1 and you may think Cook won’t have an opportunity. If anything, Thomas may see a dip in targets with Cook’s arrival. Keep in mind Marques Colston was in New Orleans while Jimmy Graham was doing his thing.
Colston managed to stay inside the top 20 scoring for wide receivers while Graham was dominating before aging out in 2014 and 2015. Thomas is a better receiver than Colston was, but there is no reason to think that Cook and Micheal Thomas cannot co-exist.
Tre’Quan Smith, Tedd Ginn and Cameron Meredith shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Cook’s targets. Even if Cook only sees the 101 targets he did in 2018, expect a solid rise in the 68 catches from last year. Drew Brees is a much better quarterback than Derek Carr.
Cook should easily reach top tight end status in 2019. Draft him with confidence if you miss out on the big three of Ertz, Kelce or Kittle. These expectations should be tempered a bit if the New Orleans Saints draft a wide receiver or tight end in April. New Orleans signing Cook probably makes this less likely.
The Saints have needs to fill on defense and only have four picks (rounds 2, 4, 6 and 7) in the upcoming draft. The chances are slim that they go wide receiver or tight end, but file it in the back of your mind to keep on eye on it as it pertains to Cook’s value.