Is Randall Cobb a Viable WR1 Option in 2013?

| 4 years ago
Cobb Stiff Arm

Is Randall Cobb a Viable WR1 Option in 2013?

Cobb Stiff ArmRandall Cobb was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, primarily as a return man and slot receiver. While Cobb had a decent rookie season, he didn’t make much of an impact in the fantasy world, tallying a mere 69 points and ranking 91st among receivers. Cobb exploded onto the scene in a big way in 2012 though, establishing himself as Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target and flying up the fantasy rankings to finish his sophomore campaign ranked 16th among receivers.

Now that Cobb is set to enter his third season, it’s easy to envision his numbers improving yet again by year’s end. But is he really a viable option as a WR1? Let’s take a look at the numbers and find out.

In my first fantasy mock draft (standard league) of the year, I selected Cobb in the third round (pick five), and as you can see, he was the first receiver I selected. My draft strategy is a strange mix of running back first, Late Round QB and best-player available. Because I nabbed both an elite running back and tight end with the first two picks, I had to turn my attention to receiver with my next pick. And because of Cobb’s versatility as a receiver, runner and return man, I just couldn’t pass on his value.


2012 Stats

Category Numbers (NFL Ranking) 
Receptions 80 (17th)
Targets 104 (T-39th)
Rec % 78% (2nd)
YAC 462 (8th)
REC TDs 8 (T-15th)
Rush Yds 132 (1st)
YPC 13.2 (1st)
Total Return Yards 1256
Return TDs 1  

As you can see in the chart above, Cobb was impressive in 2012. He finished the season ranked in the top 20 in all but one category and in the top 10 in all but two. Cobb caught 78 percent of passes thrown his way, which was good enough for second best in the league. Percy Harvin just barely beat him out for first place with 79 percent, but Harvin played in fewer games and was targeted less. So in reality, Cobb had the best percentage among regular wide receivers in the league last year. The Packers also used Cobb extremely effectively as a runner, racking up 132 yards on just 10 carries. To top things off, Cobb had the 11th-best PFF overall rating for receivers at 14.2.


2012 Targets

Receiver     Targets (% of Rodgers’ Attempts)
Randall Cobb 110 (18%)
James Jones 103 (17%)
Jermichael Finley 93 (15%)
Jordy Nelson 83 (13%)
Greg Jennings (Signed with MIN) 70 (11%)
Donald Driver (Retired) 13 (2%)
Tom Crabtree (Signed with TB) 12 (2%)

Cobb led Green Bay in percentage of Rodgers’ attempts last season. Now that Greg Jennings and Tom Crabtree have departed via free agency and Donald Driver has retired, there is 15 percent of Rodgers’ total attempts that need to be redistributed. With injury concerns for Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley likely still being in Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Rodgers’ doghouse, Cobb and Jones are the top candidates to split the bulk of extra targets in 2013.

2012 Fantasy Stats
Category Numbers (Standard Rankings) Numbers (PPR Rankings)
Total Points 156.6 (17th) 236.6 (16th)
Points Per Game 10.6 (18th) 15.8 (16th)
Points Per Snap 0.26 (1st) 0.40 (2nd)
Points Per Opp. 0.36 (T-4th) 0.55 (6th)

This last set of numbers really shows how valuable Cobb was on a team that seriously spread the ball around. Despite fighting for targets with four other receivers with more than 10 percent of Rodgers’ attempts, Cobb was able to finish in the top 20 in both standard and PPR leagues. On a per-snap basis, he was the best option in the league last year. Based on these numbers alone, Cobb was definitely a solid WR2 option last season, and if you follow my draft strategy, he would have been a fringe option at WR1.


Standard League

I’ll say it again: Cobb would’ve been a fringe option at WR1 last season. The natural progression expected from Cobb as a third-year standout player – along with the likely uptick in target and running plays – makes him an excellent pick as a No. 1 receiver. Add this to the strategy of drafting an elite running back and tight end, and you have the minimal difference in points lost by waiting to draft a receiver in the third round.


Dynasty League

This one is really a no-brainer.  At just 23 years old and entering his third season, Cobb is a great wide receiver to build your dynasty squad around. His age and all-but-certain increase in targets and rushing attempts in 2013 and beyond will make him a fantasy stud for the next several years. Another thing to keep in mind here is that the durable, talented and uber-consistent Rodgers will be throwing to Cobb for at least the next seven years, barring unforeseen circumstances. You really have to look at a receiver’s quarterback when considering them for a dynasty.

Points per Reception (PPR) League

This is also pretty easy to figure out. With the best reception percentage in the entire league, it makes a ton of sense to want Cobb on your PPR team. His sure hands and likely increase in targets next season could result in him finishing the year as the best PPR receiver.

In the end, it appears fairly obvious that Cobb is destined for big things in the coming years for the Packers and is indeed a viable WR1 option in any league format.

Co-Host of eDraft Sports Radio and Associate Editor at Proud member of the FSWA and FWAA. Sports junkie, stat nerd, journalist, architect, geek and all around Boss. Also, die-hard supporter of all Wisconsin sports.

  • Seth Gordon

    I drafted Hankerson instead of Cobb in a dynasty startup draft last July. Doh!

  • Brian Lusky

    Wouldn’t we expect some regression in his numbers, especially in terms of Rec%? Cobb was an amazing value last year (I picked him up off the waiver wire!), but this year his ADP means that he’ll pretty much “have” to be a WR1 to justify his pick, and I while he may do that, I don’t see him breaking into the top 6, and and it’s not a sure thing he’ll be in the top 12. It’s more likely he’ll end up as a high end WR2, but where he’s being drafted means it’s likely you’ll have to overpay to get him.