2014 Fantasy Football: Snag WR Brandin Cooks Early in Draft
After Brandin Cooks was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in May, I wrote an article about how they had just struck gold with their first-round selection. In turn, that great selection will be a strike of genius for fantasy GMs alike. I am typically weary of rookies in fantasy football, but there’s something about this newly spawned relationship that just screams “All-Star” to me — I’ll draft him without hesitation (and maybe sooner than I should).
Though he’s a mere 5-foot-10 — relatively small for a wide receiver — he certainly has enough athleticism to help him excel in this next stage of football. At this year’s combine, he led all WRs in the 40-yard dash as well as both the 20- and 60-yard shuttle. He was no slouch in the bench press either — placing in the top 10 among his position. He’s a threat on every play no matter where it is, or where he is. More importantly, his talent isn’t going unrecognized by his teammates and coaches. This is what TE Ben Watson had to say of the rookie from Oregon State:
“Everybody looked at each other like, ‘Wow, this kid is definitely at a different speed.’ … Just moving around, he can get into that last gear quick. His speed is obviously top tier in the league.”
Knowing the awareness the organization has of him is great news, meaning they’ll be implementing him more than you would first assume. ESPN’s Phil Savage discussed how the Saints and Cooks are the “perfect marriage” and I strongly agree with the statement.
He’s in a pro-style offense under Sean Payton that has produced many great fantasy players, including similarly talented Darren Sproles and Reggie Bush out of the backfield. He’ll be able to line up all over the field, and will especially benefit from lining up in the slot and getting dump passes from Drew Brees in which he can take off running with ease. He’ll get more looks this season than his rookie counterparts like Sammy Watkins because of this, and should be averaging at least four catches a game. But that’s just playing on the safe side.
Four catches per game would put him around 64 receptions in the season, but he’s capable of a lot more. He could very well be in store for a 75-reception season — turning into a rookie phenom. Bush did it as rookie in 2006, and he was a running back. Just imagine what Brees will do with this kind of weapon that will help spread this already loaded offense. But don’t think this offense is too crowded for him to hit that milestone.
Since Brees arrived in New Orleans, the Saints have always had at least three players over 70 receptions and have twice had four players reach that mark. Don’t expect that tune to change. Cooks can certainly be one of those players (as he’s somewhat replacing Sproles and Lance Moore). Depending on his average reception, he could be in store for a 1,000-yard season (only needing 13.4 yards per reception if he reached 75 receptions) — that’s certainly attainable.
Right now, he’s currently a borderline 10th-round pick, but I’d be willing to take him as early as the eighth round to make sure I have his potential on my team. Maybe he won’t be worth all my expectations, but sometimes you can’t let potential like his slip past your fingers even if you have to pay a little extra if not only to take his availability away from other teams that will hurt you down the road.