What Can We Expect From Jared Cook?
Last season in the NFL, 16,699 offensive passing plays were executed. The Rams offense passed for 557 of those plays. Of the Rams’ 557 pass plays in 2012, 62 of those passing attempts were within the confines of the red zone. The Rams managed to convert fourteen, or 22.5 percent, of those red zone passes into touchdowns.
All in all, the numbers led QB Sam Bradford to a 27th-ranked 74.7 red zone quarterback rating. One thing the Rams did to improve upon the red zone facet of the game is sign free agent tight end Jared Cook. It’s said that height is the best predictor of success for tight ends, and Cook standing at 6’5″ could give the Rams and QB Sam Bradford a red zone presence they desperately need.
Over Cook’s four-year career he has maintained a solid catch rate of 66.5 percent. Along with a red zone catch rate of 47 percent. The proven reliability has Rams head coach Jeff Fisher hoping his former 2009 third-round draftee will produce immediate dividends. Obviously, Fisher knows what he has in Cook as he coached him during the first two years of the young tight end’s career, but what can fantasy football owners who are willing to take a flyer on Cook expect?
Below shows a chart of both Cook’s offensive and fantasy production over his career:
|Year||Snaps in Route||Tar||Rec||Yrds||rzTAR||taDEZ||TD||Otd||Diff||Fpts||PPO|
As you can see a 119.9 fantasy point total in 2012 and 141.9 point total in 2011 hardly warrants Cook’s current ADP of 115 overall and the 10th tight end being taken off mock draft boards. However, what we need to remember is that in those two seasons the quarterback situation in Tennessee was a rather shaky one, and yet Cook managed to overachieve in comparison to his opportunity-adjusted touchdowns (oTD).
But what can we expect from Jared Cook in his first season with the Rams?
To try and put it into perspective approximately 20 percent or 113 passing plays (for those who need to be exact) originated from multiple tight end sets by the Rams in 2012 and that number could increase in 2013. Teams are using multiple tight end sets more and more over the past few years. One key stat supporting this is that every year since the 2008 season passes to tight ends have increased. In fact 500 more passes were thrown to tight ends in 2012 season than five years ago indirectly suggesting that tight ends are on the field more now than ever in the history of the NFL. With that we can suggest that with increased opportunity comes increased potential or up-side.
Last season Jared Cook finished 21st among tight ends in points per reception (PPR) leagues, underachieving somewhat compared to expectations after a 2011 season that had him finishing 15th among fantasy scoring tight ends and setting career marks in both receptions and receiving yardage. In comparison to Rams tight ends as a whole, Cook still fell well short of his new team’s 2012 tight end receiving numbers.
|Team||Snaps in Route||Tar||Rec||Yrds||rzTAR||taDEZ||TD||Otd||Diff||Fpts||PPO|
Interestingly enough, third-year player Lance Kendricks accounted for the vast majority of the Rams’ tight end fantasy output, and there in lies the problem for Jared Cook. While he does not possess the height that Cook has, Kendricks proved equally reliable boasting a catch percentage of 71.9 last season. Thus likely presenting platoon like fantasy numbers at the tight end position. One thing that may bode well for Cook over Kendricks is that 69 percent of the Rams total touchdowns last year were through the air.
It’s reasonable to expect an increase in total Rams passing plays as St. Louis has built an offense capable of sustaining longer drives in 2013. With a looming question mark within the run game, the passing numbers for the Rams could take a very sizable leap. Quick projection fantasy numbers for the Rams tight ends can be surmised from the graph below. The graph represents total fantasy numbers accumulated under Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer over his tenure as a coordinator.
According to the graph it seems logical to presume an increase in fantasy output in 2013 for Rams tight ends. At no point has an increase in fantasy output followed a decrease by less than 30 percent. Therefore suggesting that Rams tight ends could finish the season with fantasy numbers in the neighborhood of 187 points appears appropriate. Those numbers by a single tight end would land the player fifth on current Pro Football Focus fantasy projection charts. But now how much of that fantasy pie Jared Cook bites off is another question entirely. Waiting on Jared Cook in mock drafts and then putting a fantasy team’s whole season on the line in hopes of potential panning out with Cook could cost many owners their 2013 fantasy football seasons.