At 33 years of age, Jared Cook is one of the elder statesmen among tight ends with top-ten upside for fantasy. Coming off of back-to-back highly successful campaigns that saw him finish as the TE5 (2018) and TE7 (2019) in PPR formats. The trademark of Cook’s game has always been his unique blend of speed, strength, and size for the position, as he’s often too fast to be covered by most linebackers and too large to be covered by a typical defensive back. Prior to his breakout 2018 season, Cook’s best year as a professional had come all the way back in 2013 when he was the TE11.
A huge reason why Cook managed to break out so late into his career was that he essentially found himself as the first or second best pass-catcher on his respective teams. In 2018 for the then Oakland Raiders, Cook saw an 18.1% target share, the highest on the team. That season, Cook set career-highs in receiving yardage (896), receptions (68), and receiving touchdowns (6). Cook followed those marks up with an impressive first season in New Orleans, as he once again broke his personal touchdown record by catching 9, seeing an 11.1% target share, the second-highest mark among the Saints pass-catchers (not including RBs).
With the additions of veteran wideout Emmanuel Sanders and rookie tight end Adam Trautman, it’s going to be difficult for Cook to replicate his performance as the TE7. The first area of concern for me when looking at Cook is the likelihood of him scoring fewer touchdowns, as 32.2% of Cook’s fantasy points from last season came from touchdowns. The loss of even a third of his nine touchdowns from last season would have knocked him down to the TE10 spot. Considering Cook’s unimpressive history of touchdown production — he’s averaged roughly 3 touchdowns per-season for his career — I would not expect him to continue to dominate this category. Even if Cook maintains his 11% target share this season — a tall task considering Sanders will need to have some targets redistributed towards him — putting up a similar amount of points would be unlikely.
Most end-zone targets (TEs) in 2019:
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 29, 2020
The thing that worries me most about Cook is the presence of Trautman, a player who many scouts viewed as the top tight end prospect in the 2020 Draft. At 6’5, 250 lbs, Trautman is a fluid athlete who brings a very well-rounded skill set to the table. While most rookie tight ends struggle in their first season, I anticipate that Trautman will still be accommodated into the game plan this season due to his skill as a receiver, especially with the Saints still lacking a consistent tertiary receiver.
- 45 receptions (+2 from last season)
- 67 targets (+2 from last season)
- 552 receiving yards (-153 from last season)
- 4 receiving TDs (-5 from last season)
- 125.2 fantasy points ~TE16 (-9 spots from last season)
While he should still be a viable tight end this season, Cook will be a fringe starter most weeks.