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Stop that Hype Train! Jared Cook

What Appears In This Article? hide

Considering how the NFL (like every other sport nowadays) is skewing younger, it must be acknowledged that Jared Cook poses a great case for veterans to fight for consideration as valuable pieces. Not only is Cook entering his age-32 season, but he's also only missed 11 games in his 10-year career, and played the full 16 in both 2017 and 2018 for Oakland. His numbers have seen a late-career bloom and last winter he became a Pro Bowler for the first time. Not bad.

Not so good as to consider him a threat to any of the prime tight ends around the league, though. Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle are by far the most coveted pieces in drafts when it comes to getting sure-fire TE for 2019. Even with that, Cook is still ranked high by ADP but he may actually be in for a tough season now that he's part of the New Orleans Saints.

Let's take a look at why Jared Cook might let us down in 2019.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy football rankings for 2024 fantasy football drafts:

 

Jared Cook (TE, NO)

ADP: 74 overall, TE7

Look, I'm not here to drag anyone down. I always try to look at the bright side of what each and every player brings to the table. But with Jared Cook and his current ADP of 74, I at least need to try and make you keep your overexcitement at bay.

The first thing I'd consider when thinking about drafting Cook early (at least by the average draft position he is being picked at now) is his age. How reliable is such an "old" tight end? Can we really expect big numbers from Cook, who is already 32 years old? I pulled data from Pro-Football-Reference in which I filtered TEs 30+ years old to gather at least 100 targets in a season. Since 2010 there have only been 21. In 2018, only Cook did so. In 2017, only Delanie Walker, and in 2016, only Greg Olsen and again Delanie Walker. There are more occurrences in years past, but in today's NFL nobody is relying on old tight ends.

Last season was one to highlight in Cook's career, though. He finished as the fourth-best tight end in DYAN and 11th-best in DVOA per Football Outsiders. That is to say, he outperformed names such as those of Zach Ertz, Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce depending on the advanced metric. Highly improbable to happen again, if you ask me. Proof of concept: he ranked fifth in drops (eight all season) and his usage rate was really high at 19.3%. The former number is worrisome at least and the latter will be bumped down in New Orleans.

There is no question Cook will become the leading tight end of the Saints in 2019. Even with that, though, the 101 targets he saw last season in Oakland seem like a stretch to reach in New Orleans. Michael Thomas will eat most of Brees' attempts and Alvin Kamara is as good a threat receiving as a running back can offer with 105 targets for 709 yards in 2018. The 68 receptions Cook got last season came down to volume more than efficiency. He could only post a 67% catch rate and his 8.87 Y/Tgt was 12th-best among TEs with at least 20 targets.

Cook's past two seasons and the projections he boasts for 2019 are not bad, don't get me wrong. It is only that at the price he's going off the boards right now there seem to be better options available with higher ROI in place. Consider that all of the statistics I have discussed here for Cook were career-best numbers. Can such performance be expected again for someone already 32, changing teams (even moving from Derek Carr to Drew Brees), and buried under a WR/RB pair of starlets? I doubt it.

Looking at ADP rankings we can find names around Jared Cook worth considering at the same spot we'd take the Saint. You should definitely avoid Eric Ebron. If Hunter Henry (ADP 65) somehow drops in your draft, he would be a much better option. Looking deeper, Njoku has an ADP of 86 right now and has much more upside than Cook for the upcoming season.

Further down the TE ranks, we can find other appealing names and much cheaper too. It is not rare to finish a full 12-team draft with T.J. Hockenson (ADP of 137), Mark Andrews (ADP of 153), and Jimmy Graham (ADP of 155) going undrafted. Those three players, more the first two than Graham, have either favorable environments to succeed or proven more than productive in the NFL already.




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