Most of the bigger names in free agency at the skill positions have now found new homes, and if certain teams still have glaring needs, they simply may have to address them in the draft. This week, we saw two of the final bigger name guys in free agency finally settle on new deals. What’s left now may mostly be picked off for depth purposes.
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The Latest Free Agency News and Fantasy Insights
Jared Cook to the Saints
Former Raider Jared Cook was the only true significant impact tight end in this season’s free agency class, and it was a bit surprising he was not signed sooner. Long considered a journeyman who disappointed for many seasons, Cook fashioned a career-year with Oakland in 2018 despite the erratic play of Derek Carr and not much of an offensive supporting cast around him. Cook finished as TE5 in PPR leagues after 16 weeks of play last season.
At 6-5, 250-plus Cook is a big target with some big-play ability that adds extra dimensions to any offense, and the New Orleans Saints certainly saw that and ended up as the reported team to acquire him. He has never been a major TD threat despite his size, as his six scores in 2018 were his best. But he caught 68 passes for 896 yards in a mediocre passing offense (18th ranked) and keep in mind his six TD receptions were nearly one-third of what the Raiders achieved overall in that department (19 total TD passes).
Cook has size, strength, quickness and he can gain yardage after the catch. He now gets a significant upgrade at QB, even though there are signs Drew Brees is not going to be the gunslinger he once was. His numbers certainly weren’t outstanding down the stretch during the regular season. Yet Brees should still be very accurate and consistent, and having Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara commanding a lot of defensive attention will certainly help Cook get open frequently. He slides into the Saints offense very nicely with Tre’Quan Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. also acting as the field stretchers.
Cook’s early Expert Consensus Rank (ECR) on FantasyPros.com is 12th at TE, as some may look at his age (31 going on 32) and career track record of ups and downs, and might believe he cannot play as well as he did last year. But the TE has always played a prominent role in the Sean Payton offense and it’s a great landing spot for Cook. I would consider him as early as sixth at TE after Kelce, Ertz, Kittle, O.J. Howard and Hunter Henry are off the board. We all know TE is a very thin position, so I would view him as a keeper from the fifth round on in terms of penalties for losing draft choices.
Randall Cobb Signs with Dallas
The Dallas Cowboys also finally addressed a WR need by signing former Packer Randall Cobb to a one-year contract. Cobb looked like he was headed for stardom after an outstanding 2014 season, but the ensuing campaigns were full of injuries and disappointing play when he was available. Last year he hit fantasy bottom, missing seven games, only starting six and being limited to 38 receptions for 383 yards and two TDs.
When he is going well, Cobb is a slippery inside receiver who can get loose after the catch. But in the two seasons prior to last year, he was simply a sub 70-catch, below 700-yard receiver who only scored four times in each year. He should still command defensive respect in Dallas, but the QB downgrade from Aaron Rodgers to Dak Prescott is so obvious and has already been the subject of memes.
Cobb’s skill set pairs well with Amari Cooper, who will be more of the downfield guy. But he is apparently going from a pass-first offense to one that is heavily centered around the running back, and Cobb is not guaranteed to operate as the Cowboys’ No. 2 WR all year long. Second-year man Michael Gallup could overtake Cobb in the pecking order at some point. If you play in a dynasty league and find a Gallup owner that is frustrated with the news of the Cobb acquisition, make an offer for Gallup. Cobb’s arrival is no guarantee of any spot on the receiving ladder. If he continues to underperform and battle injuries, his opportunities will lessen. He may also be simple insurance until Gallup blossoms.
I would consider Cobb a shaky WR4 at best heading into 2019 drafts. I don’t like his change of venue and I am skeptical that he can bounce back to starting fantasy WR territory. But I do think he will be worth streaming and for some DFS matchups if he can stay healthy.
Fighting for Scraps
There is not much in terms of quality left in free agency at this point, although fantasy owners should stay on top of any lingering skill position transactions for depth purposes. It is not fully clear yet whether Marshawn Lynch will return to Oakland, although the Raiders have not made any notable moves to replace him. Jay Ajayi could also land somewhere where he could compete for meaningful carries, but he appears to be a timeshare type of player.
T.J. Yeldon could find himself in a new role somewhere as a receiving specialist at RB who can also operate as a handcuff or change-of-pace player behind a firm starter. Spencer Ware can still perform respectably enough to be a prime backup with a new team.
C.J. Anderson remains unsigned, and it seems like his chances to start somewhere may be slipping away. He said on social media that no teams have come forward with an offer, and the Rams have apparently not rushed to re-sign him. It’s only guesswork, but maybe they are not overly concerned about Todd Gurley’s knee if they are not looking to make a strong push for a prime backup like Anderson.
Jordy Nelson, who was released by Oakland, is reportedly being considered by at least five teams. He is going on 34 years old, though, and will be more of a complementary piece with not much fantasy promise at all wherever he signs. Michael Crabtree is still searching for a new team, and if he finds the right situation, he could be useful for fantasy depth purposes.
Scott Engel is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame and a four-time award winner. He was one of the driving content forces in the rise of RotoExperts.com and was the lead host on the RotoExperts in the Morning for six years on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He was also instrumental in the launch of the FNTSY Sports Network. Scott was the first-ever Senior Writer and Managing Editor at CBS SportsLine and won a company Hall of Fame Award. He was also an Associate Editor and Fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He has been the featured Fantasy Writer on Seahawks.com since 2012 and his work has been syndicated to the Associated Press, NFL.com, New York Daily News, New York Post, Yahoo Sports, Bloomberg Sports, Sports Illustrated and many others. He is a credentialed media member who won an FSWA award in 2016 for his Insider Fantasy Reporting. Known as “The King”, Scott is on Twitter @scottTheKing
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