St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook burst onto the scene with a monster game in his regular season debut with the Rams, but he has been an afterthought since that seven-catch, 141-yard, two-TD Week 1 performance against the rival Arizona Cardinals. Cook did bounce back in last week’s game against the Chicago Bears by hauling in four passes for 80 yards and a touchdown, giving him his highest total of receiving yards in a game since that Week 1 performance. In fact, it was only the second time all season in which Cook surpassed 45 receiving yards.
So is this talented, versatile TE bouncing back? Maybe, but he still has to have more performances like that in order for the Rams and fantasy owners to trust him in the playoffs. Right now, he is one of the last guys you want to start on your team, and he’s barely even roster-able in standard fantasy leagues. He just hasn’t produced consistently at all this season, and he’s going up against an excellent San Francisco 49ers defense that is one of the best teams at defending tight ends.
Cook’s inconsistent production is better seen when looking at the analytics. His total of over 500 receiving yards and four total touchdown receptions doesn’t seem too bad at face value, but he’s also caught just 58.7% of all passes thrown at him. This catch rate is the lowest among qualifying TEs, and the difference between Sam Bradford and Kellen Clemens doesn’t really explain the difference; Cook wasn’t exactly good with Bradford at the helm either.
With Clemens starting, the Rams are clearly more of a run-first offense than ever, and that’s the way head coach Jeff Fisher wants it to be. Zac Stacy is blossoming into a great feature back in this league, and No. 2 back Benny Cunningham is impressing. Jared Cook has plenty of talent and is as good as any TE in this league at stretching the field (his solid 13.7 yards per reception ends up giving him a respectable 8.1 yards per target), but he has been anything but reliable.
When you boil it down, Cook is having a decent season overall, but he jut isn’t getting the targets or consistently hauling in enough passes due to his lower catch rate in order to make a legitimate fantasy impact. I think if he were on a team with a better QB and more designs on throwing the football, then Cook would be a TE1 and would be recognized for having a very good season. But as it stands right now, he’s had a decidedly average season, and the fact that he’s a horrible run blocker doesn’t exactly help. If there’s anyone who could make a much bigger jump in statistics between this season and next season at the tight end position, then it’s Cook, whose talent can’t be downplayed.