This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NFLRankings or the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more 2014 Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose, a fantasy football blog.
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2014 Fantasy Football: Saints Fantasy Rookies Analysis
What was all of that talk about change? Just when we thought the pass-happy New Orleans Saints were going to get more balanced, the team spent their first round pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on a deep threat wide receiver.
Brandin Cooks helps the Saints get younger and more explosive on offense, and at least for the moment keeps Drew Brees and the high-flying attack in discussion for another huge season.
New Orleans is still going to try to get more balanced, but fantasy owners shouldn’t be expecting some insane run-heavy offense. In other words, the Saints might not exactly be the same Saints we’ve grown accustomed to, but they’re not suddenly turning into the Baltimore Ravens, either.
There is still a lot to like in New Orleans when it comes to the fantasy football realm, and the addition of the electrifying Cooks is a big part of it.
Let’s take a closer look at Cooks and the other top offensive rookies the Saints have to work with as they head into the 2014 fantasy season:
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oklahoma State (Round 1 – Pick 20)
The New Orleans Saints just got more dangerous through the air. They do seem to have plans to get a little more balanced on offense, but the selection of such an explosive talent like Cooks with their first round pick in this year’s draft says they still want to make taking it to the air a pretty big priority.
Even if that’s not the case (although it’s clear it totally is), Cooks is also a nice insurance policy. After all, star tight end Jimmy Graham is currently in contract negotiations (he could always hold out if he wanted to), while Lance Moore and Darren Sproles are gone and Marques Colston is an aging possession receiver.
Kenny Stills is an emerging deep threat, but he’s appeared to be fairly one-dimensional so far in one season of action, while the same can be said for down field burners, Joe Morgan and Robert Meachem.
Meachem is also aging and is about as one-dimensional as deep threats come, while Morgan is fairly unproven in a big role and is actually coming off of a shredded knee from a year ago.
Needless to say, the Saints needed a backup plan.
Drafting a talented receiver like Cooks in round one when you need transition pieces on defense isn’t a backup plan, though. It’s a clear effort toward getting even more unpredictable and explosive on offense.
Cooks is entering heaven, folks. The Saints might look to balance their offensive attack more than they have in the past, but even in his lowest passing attempt season (with the Saints) back in 2009, Brees still put the ball in the air 514 times. Probably not by coincidence, that ended up being his second most efficient season in his career (he completed over 70% of his passes), while he also put up 4,388 passing yards and 36 total touchdowns, while tossing just 11 picks. Oh, and that was the year “Who Dat” nation won their first Super Bowl.
Naturally, Sean Payton and co. probably want to try to replicate that again.
Cooks figures to be a big part of that. We all probably get how he’ll fit in for the Saints in real life, but what we all want to know is just what that will mean for Cooks as a fantasy option.
At the moment, it might not mean insane production. It might just be a formality, but at least for now Cooks is merely the Saints’ third wide receiver, and he should fall in line behind Colston and Stills. Of course, all three actually fall in line behind tight end Jimmy Graham, while whoever operates as New Orleans’ main third down back (probably Pierre Thomas) will also compete heavily for 60+ catches.
But that doesn’t mean Cooks doesn’t have value right away, and it certainly doesn’t hurt his upside. It’s only May and the kid was just drafted. Once he puts his talents on display in camp and in preseason, it’s entirely possible he shoots up over Stills. Stills is probably better suited to man the slot, anyways, so that seems like the best long-term set up.
For Dynasty leagues, you can draft Cooks and round one and feel pretty good about it. In just a couple of years, it will be him and Stills and the second/third options behind Graham. Colston will likely be gone, and these two guys will be tearing up the league together.
In redraft leagues right now, we have to curb our expectations a bit. There is absolutely WR3 upside right now with Cooks given his offense and sheer athletic ability, but he has a ton of competition to battle for targets with. Like a lot of these freakishly athletic rookies, he’s going to be worth snatching up in the later rounds in drafts and will carry reasonable upside as the season wears on.
Tavon Rooks, OT, Kansas State (Round 6 – Pick 202)
Rooks is an offensive tackle and obviously won’t be getting you any fantasy points. However, the Saints needed some depth for their o-line and they got some here with Rooks. He was their final pick in the sixth round and isn’t necessarily a lock to make the final roster, but is very interesting physically and could help round out their depth.
The best thing about Rooks is his immense upside, though. He was worth a sixth round pick thanks to his excellent size and length, while he also has displayed great movement with some nice raw ability. He’s a developmental project that probably won’t help New Orleans as a rookie, but he gives them a nice, big body to work with on the outside at either tackle spot.
Obviously it’s all about Cooks here. Cooks is a burner who appears to have a complete skill-set and pretty much limitless potential. He’s not likely to develop into a big time red-zone factor at any point in his career, but he can move the chains as a possession guy, bust big gains after he catches the ball, or make big plays deep down the field. He’s going to be an insane weapon. Whether or not it all comes together for him as a rookie in 2014, however, remains to be determined.