Tight end Jared Cook’s 2016 stat line from the regular season was anything but impressive, finishing with 30 catches on 51 targets for 377 yards and a lone touchdown.
It wouldn’t be fair to discuss Cook’s stats without addressing his masterful run in the playoffs. While it doesn’t help fantasy owners in any way, he caught 18 passes in three games and scored twice as much as he did in his 10 regular-season appearances. More impressive, he closed with 25 targets for a 13-182-2 line in the divisional and conference championship games combined.
Cook shared time in Green Bay with Richard Rodgers and missed six games because of injury after completing three straight healthy seasons in St. Louis. In 2017, he will be trading in Aaron Rodgers for Derek Carr and warmer weather with a move to the Bay Area’s Oakland Raiders.
Green Bay had so many weapons on any given play that Cook could easily become lost in the shuffle. This was evident around the goal line. In contrast, Oakland doesn’t sport nearly as much depth behind its star receivers in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
The Raiders have a new offensive coordinator in Todd Downing, though the system won’t change from that of previous playcaller Bill Musgrave. Oakland targeted tight ends 83 total times in 2016, good for 57 grabs, 580 yards and four touchdowns. Green Bay ran just two fewer plays per game and was the fourth least balanced offense (62.4 percent passes). Oakland fell in the middle of the league at 57.9 percent its snaps being in favor of the aerial game.
There is little reason to expect Cook to be consistent. That never once has been his thing. Last year, it was on full display in Weeks 11 and 12 when he popped off for 6-105-1 and followed it up with a marvelous one-catch, seven-yard day. How about back in 2013 when Cook opened the season with a 7-141-2 line that sent countless gamers to their waiver wires in hopes of landing him? It required four and a half more games before he matched that yardage and 10 until those two scores were replicated. Cook thrives on being able to exploit matchups. He isn’t the type who can create mismatches on his own volition.
He should be better this year, presuming he can stay healthy, but Cook’s ceiling is limited. The Raiders have one of the best goal line runners in recent times in Marshawn Lynch and a system that does not feature the tight end position.
Fantasy football takeaway
My prediction is somewhere in the ballpark of his average stats since becoming an NFL starter in 2010. Cook should be a safe bet for 40-45 receptions, 525-575 yards and three touchdowns. The scores could go north, and he is a good bet to threaten TE1 numbers on the season-long view, which makes him better in best-ball formats that weekly lineup games. DFS gamers may find the most utility from the veteran. Owners in conventional situations don’t much care about season-long stats if most of the production comes in two games and it costs them several losses by starting an inconsistent option.
Like with most players, knowing what the investment is likely to return is imperative, but even more so with Cook. He offers safety in No. 2 tight end value on draft day, and there will be a few games in which he will make you smile. Those rewards will be accompanied by headaches more often than not, if history is any indicator.