I’m not a fan of Jared Cook. I want to get that out of the way right now. Every year the fantasy football community gets caught up in his athleticism and the thousands of what-ifs, and they forget that he has serious hands and focus problems. He has far too many drops to be considered a reliable pass catcher. This week, however, he has several factors on his side that will contribute to him having a great fantasy football week against the New York Giants.
First, is the Raiders wide receiver corps is currently demolished by injury and Aqib Talib chain snatching. The Raiders will be without both Amari Cooper (concussion, ankle) and Michael Crabtree (Aqib Talib taking up residence inside his brain) this week. That leaves the top receiving options against the Giants as Jared Cook, Cordarelle Patterson and Seth Roberts. Patterson is a gadget guy and not a reliable target, and Seth Roberts has hands so bad they make Jared Cook look like Larry Fitzgerald. They will be missing their top two targets, and that leaves Cook as the top answer for Derek Carr.
The second overwhelming factor is regression, regression, regression. The big thing you’re looking for from a tight end streaming play is touchdown scoring opportunity. Jared Cook has had plenty of that opportunity but is cashing in on it on a well below-average level. Cook has nine red zone targets this year, yet has zero red zone touchdowns for his efforts. While a certain amount of this can be attributed to the Jared Cook of it all (one catch on nine targets), it still screams regression. Of the other NFL pass catchers with nine red zone targets, Cook is the only one without a touchdown (the only one with just one TD is Brandon freakin’ LaFell). The average number of touchdowns for players with nine red zone targets, excluding Cook, is 2.5 touchdowns. Not to get gamblers’ fallacy on you but Jared Cook is due.
This week he gets the best potential opponent to straighten out his unusually low touchdown production. The Giants have allowed a touchdown to a tight end in every game this season except last week. This type of reliability means that the odds of Jared Cook catching a touchdown are as high as they will ever be. Get Jared Cook into your lineup folks, a dismantled Oakland receiving corps and sheer touchdown regression against a terrible opponent mean great things for your fantasy football lineup this weekend.