The Case Against Brandin Cooks
Call me old fashioned, but if I’m going to draft a WR in the 3rd Round, I better get a guy who performs week in and week out. Brandin Cooks is not that guy, and there is just no way I can see myself drafting him in the top 30 picks of my draft. His best weeks in 2015 came late and probably long after he had been cut or traded from the teams that originally drafted him. The 2016 Saints have a deep and improved WR corps, and I suspect the Brandin Cooks we saw early in 2015 is the Brandin Cooks we can expect for all of 2016.
After being drafted by the Saints in the 1st Round of the 2014 draft, the Cooks hype started right away. From that very moment, he has been taking his fantasy owners on a sadistic roller coaster ride. He has played in 26 games; the breakdown is almost comical. He has failed to reach 100 yards 22 times out of 26. He has only scored a TD in 10 of 26. He has scored 10 or fewer fantasy points 12 times in his 2 seasons. Basically, there is a 50/50 chance that the guy you are drafting as WR14 is going to play like WR40. When he plays well, he plays very well, but he has proven time and time again that he can’t do it consistently. The only time he looked like a legit WR1 in 2015 was from Week 13 on. While it is always nice getting a boost during the fantasy playoffs, if I draft a guy in the first 3 rounds, I’d prefer he actually help me make the playoffs.
If Cooks was the only guy the Saints had, I’d feel a lot better about rostering him. He’s not. There are at least 5 guys looking to steal targets from Cooks in 2016, and he won’t see the volume he did last year. Starting with the WRs, the Saints have Footballers’ favorite Willie Snead, and they drafted Ohio State WR Michael Thomas in the 2nd Round. Snead burst onto the scene as a rookie last year, snagging 70 of his 102 targets for 990 yards. He was one of only 2 players to only score 3 TDs despite seeing 100+ targets. In other words, Snead will continue to be targeted and will find the end zone more in 2016. Thomas was a big play guy coming out of college. At OSU, he scored 18 TDs in his 2 years as a starter. He fits the role vacated by Drew Brees’ previous favorite target, Marques Colston, perfectly. The Saints also love to throw to their RBs, and as Snead himself let us know in Ep. 226, C.J. Spiller will be more active in the passing game in 2016. Before his injury last year, Mark Ingram was already catching a ton of balls as the primary back in this offense. So, basically, no matter what down it is, the Saints will have a RB on the field ready to steal targets from the WRs. Then, to top it all off, the Saints went out and got a TE to finally replace Jimmy Graham. Coby Fleener, one of Jason’s “My Guys”, signed on and is a definite upgrade over 2015 starter Ben Watson. Watson saw 110 targets last year, Graham averaged 138 targets as the starter in New Orleans, Fleener should find himself somewhere in between.
To summarize, in Brandin Cooks you have a guy who needs ideal situations to flourish and can’t seem to put together back to back great games. As the Saints add talent, it is very likely that he won’t even see the 129 targets he saw last season. What did Cooks do with those 129 targets last year? Finish as WR14. The loss of targets and up and down play means regression is coming for him this season. Brandin Cooks will not be a top 15 WR, and I can’t imagine drafting him in the 3rd round when he won’t even be able to repeat the mediocrity he’s already shown us.