There’s a steady diet ahead for a man named Jared this fall, and it’s not filled with hearty subway sandwiches.
2009 third-round pick and St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook creeps onto our latest list of fantasy football sleepers for 2013, and he’s a really deep one at that. The steady diet will consist of more accurate passes thrown his way than last season with Tennessee. Cook signed with the Rams this past offseason after playing four seasons in the Music City, and the former Gamecock is primed to be fed quite a bit in the Rams up-and-coming offense. Our claws are digging down toward the equator of the 2013 fantasy slate of guys, and we managed to come up with a case for Cook as a solid bench guy for your team this season.
Compiling nearly 1,300 yards to go along with seven touchdowns in the last two seasons with the Titans, Cook put up solid numbers in a very pedestrian offense decimated by injuries at the quarterback position. The injuries caused somewhat of a time-split between a young and still learning Jake Locker and a washed up veteran in Matt Hasselback.
The quarterback play in Tennessee was nothing short of terrible in 2012, and Cook’s promise as a 2012 sleeper suffered as a result. Never lauded for his accuracy coming out of college, Locker seemingly missed Cook high and low at an alarming rate in 2012, forcing Cook to make tough catches. Cook finished with 44 receptions on 72 targets last season, not the best catching percentage but the real culprit was missed throws by the quarterback.
At 6’5, 248lbs, Cook is an athletic tight end who can make plays in the open field with exceptional 4.49 40 speed. With a new situation in St. Louis, the Rams are much more focused in making Cook a focal point of their offense as opposed to Tennessee which was more of a run-based offense. According to the St. Louis Dispatch, Cook admitted the Titans offense didn’t “suit him” and that Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is ‘the best quarterback he’s ever played with.’
But what separates Cook from most tight ends and what makes him a viable fantasy option is his speed. Not just a line up with his hand on the ground type, Cook is incredible when it comes to seam routes over the middle. His explosiveness allows him to make the big 20-yard catches over the middle by getting behind some of the quicker safeties in the NFL.
Cook is also very sure-handed for a tight end. According to PPF, he has never had more than five drops in any season since he started in 2009. He also comes into a St. Louis offense lacking veteran receivers and a real identity, so Cook will be able to assert himself more easily without a definite No. 1 receiver option. The fact that he’s reunited with former Tennessee coach Fisher doesn’t hurt either.
The Rams are a young team and Cook adds a new dimension the offense that wasn’t there before. While the highly-touted rookie Tavon Austin will likely lead the Rams in targets this season, it’s not unlikely Cook could be in line for more looks than he had in Tennessee, especially since he’s got a better quarterback throwing to him in a better offense. He could very likely be the Rams top guy in the receiving yards and touchdowns. Of course, cook will have to deal with the dreaded defenses of San Francisco and Seattle for four games in 2013, but don’t let that deter you from taking him late in your draft. He’s a solid option that will create mismatches for linebackers and the Rams are looking to fully exploit defenses by using Cook in as many ways as possible. Dig in.