It’s Time To Respect Brandin Cooks

by Donald Gibson
Jul 11, 2016

It wouldn't be wise to overlook Drew Brees' deep threat and favorite target, Brandin Cooks (pictured)

It wouldn’t be wise to overlook Drew Brees’ deep threat and favorite target, Brandin Cooks (pictured)

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Many of you probably haven’t had the opportunity to read my content before, but if you have, there’s a good chance that I’ve mentioned Brandin Cooks. For some reason that I still don’t fully understand, he’s the fantasy player that I endorse shamelessly and relentlessly. I also likened him to a filet mignon in a recent article as odd as that sounds.

This season is no exception. According to FantasyPros figures as of July 9, Cooks is ranked as the 15th receiver in both standard and points-per-reception (PPR) formats and is being drafted as the 14th in both. I have the Saints’ “archer” ranked at WR9 in both formats.

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Before we dive into Cooks, take a look at the players being drafted around him. We have Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Demaryius Thomas, all of which are walking into an uncomfortable-at-best quarterback situation. Jeffery is probably fine, but at this point, I’m very concerned about Marshall and Thomas with Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez as their quarterbacks.

We have some raw and/or slightly-unproven talent around him as well in Mike Evans (led the league with 11 drops), Amari Cooper (three catches in the red-zone last year) and Keenan Allen (injury, makes me nervous for some reason). I like all of them, but their inconsistency last year makes me a wee bit nervous. Moving on to the man of the hour…

In his sophomore season last year, Cooks hauled in 84 balls (17th in the NFL) for 1,138 yards (14th) and nine touchdowns (T-14th). In terms of targets, he ranked 20th with 129 targets – admittedly nothing impressive. Among the top 20 targeted players in 2015, however, Cooks had a catch rate of 65% – tied for sixth.

The only players that I have ranked higher than Cooks who also had a higher catch rate are Antonio Brown (70%) and Julio Jones (67%). A.J. Green is ranked higher than Cooks and had the same 65% catch rate. A lot of Cooks’ production can be attributed to his quarterback – some guy named Drew Brees.

Brees was second in a bunch of passing categories in 2015 – completions (428), attempts (627), completion percentage (68.3%) and yards per game (325). Additionally, he was first in passing yards with 4,870. Brees missed a game due to injury.

I must admit, the Saints are notorious for spreading the ball around, which can be very frustrating for fantasy owners. Cooks led the Saints in targets, but Benjamin Watson and Willie Snead both also had over 100 targets – 109 and 102, respectively. Watson is now off to Baltimore, but Coby Fleener has arrived and will probably be integrated well into the passing game.

Honestly, I don’t really care. The Saints throw enough that it makes the spreading of the ball increasingly irrelevant.

The Saints’ defense was so bad (and presumably still is) that they have to throw constantly – hence the 627 attempts by Brees in 15 games. There were only two games last season where Saints’ opponents scored fewer than 20 points! They were the second-worst defense in terms of yards allowed with 6,620 (that’s a ton) and the worst in terms of points allowed, giving up an actually impressive 29.8 points per game.

Cooks is just fun to own. He’s that guy who makes your total score jump by 15 in one play. Last season, he had receptions of 46, 47, 54, 60 and 71 yards, proving once again that it’s very valuable to own Drew Bress’ deep threat.

Okay, so what are we working with? We have a third-year deep-threat receiver who is the unquestioned number one target on his team – a team that possibly throws the ball more than any other team in the league and usually has to keep pace with their opponents as a result of their awful defense.

Oh, and he has a likely future Hall-of-Famer throwing to him. As a bonus, I will be yelling “Throw it to Cooks” almost every time the Saints drop back to pass.

According to FantasyPros, you can get Cooks at the end of the third round in 10-team leagues. I won’t let him last that long.

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