Fantasy Football 2014: Beware the Brandin Cooks Hype


May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Brandin Cooks (Oregon State) poses for photos after being selected as the number twenty overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the New Orleans Saints at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

If you are like me, you can’t get enough Brandin Cooks highlight videos on YouTube. The guy is pure electricity and a threat to score every time he touches the ball.

We got a chance to see that electricity up close and personal this past Friday night when the Saints took on the Rams during the first preseason contest of 2014 for both teams.

Cooks did not disappoint, catching five passes for 55 yards, including a 25 yard touchdown in the third quarter. He was targeted eight times in a performance that left prospective fantasy owners drooling. That tends to happen every year in the preseason. Someone steps up and meets our expectations — sometimes even exceeds them — and we collectively send that player’s fantasy stock through the roof.

Let’s slow down.

I don’t want to be that guy, but yes, it was just preseason. In addition, you need to understand that once the traditional starters — if they even play — get their one or two series of plays in, the focus on the remainder of most preseason games is working out your rookies and guys trying to make the squad.

Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills all have their spots locked up. We know what they can do. Naturally, they aren’t going to get eight targets in a preseason game. Brandin Cooks has played the role of practice all-star in training camp. Naturally, the coaching staff wanted to give him plenty of opportunities and get a satisfactory sample size of what he can do against real competition. Cooks accepted the challenge, and as I said, did not disappoint.

Honestly, I didn’t expect him to fail. I think most of us who actually watch football knew just by watching film and his college career that he is destined to be a solid NFL player. What I didn’t expect is for the Brandin Cooks hype to snowball like it has and catapult him over some starting No. 1 receivers in fantasy drafts.

Right now, Brandin Cooks is being drafted 29th among all receivers in traditional ten team leagues. That, in my opinion, is borderline insane.

People are taking Cooks ahead of teammates Marques Colston and Kenny Stills. Colston and Stills are going to be the starting X and Y receivers for the Saints. The two of them and Jimmy Graham will be 1, 2 and 3 in terms of number of targets once the regular season starts. Cooks will be the slot guy in a loaded offense and likely the fourth option on every pass play not specifically designed for him. Will the Saints have a package just for Cooks? Probably, but I’m not sure that package merits drafting him ahead of guys like Sammy Watkins, Eric Decker and even Golden Tate, who is going to be the second option in Detroit. But that’s where Cooks is being drafted.

I don’t want this to come off as me not liking Cooks as a player or not loving the potential he brings with every touch. I love Cooks. He’s going to make football that much more fun to watch on Sundays for years to come. But this year, in his rookie season, I just don’t see him making a big enough impact to merit being a Top 30 pick at the wide reciever spot. I can see him one day becoming an undersized No. 1 wideout in the league, much like Steve Smith in his prime. Because of that. he’s a top 10 pick in dynasty leagues.

For now, Brandin Cooks is nothing more than an exciting slot guy in an offense with way too many other options for him to make a tangible impact on your 2014 fantasy football season.