Fantasy football owners who invested in Brandin Cooks already have made a wise decision. Owners who have yet to draft would be wise not to pass up Cooks if he's available in the middle rounds. He's poised to outperform his draft position.
In the New Orleans Saints' preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams August 8, Cooks racked up 55 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. Thought to be buried on the depth chart behind Marques Colston, Robert Meachem and Kenny Stills, Cooks has already begun to find his niche in the potent Saints offense.
The reasoning is simple—Drew Brees loves giving the ball to everyone.
Cooks offers something that Colston, Meachem and Stills do not. Stills is a home run hitter over the top of defenses, but Cooks offers the ability to rack up yards after the catch. He's already proved that in training camp:
ESPN's KC Joyner (Insider subscription required) highlighted Cooks as a major sleeper for the upcoming fantasy season:
There are myriad indicators pointing toward Cooks being the favorite to win the offensive rookie of the year award. He was the fastest player among the top wide receivers in this year's NFL draft, has been dominant in training camp and had a highlight-reel play in his first preseason game.
In addition, the Saints have the most favorable pass defense schedule in the league this year -- as I detailed in my story on Drew Brees as the top fantasy QB -- and should be throwing the ball a ton.
Brees loves dump passes and screens that result in big yardage. Pierre Thomas was the beneficiary of that last season, catching 77 passes for 513 yards as a running back. Darren Sproles was also a beneficiary, earning 89 targets last season.
As a true wideout, Cooks could be even better.
What type of receiver will Cooks be by season's end?
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport is already in love with the 5'10" wideout: "By my eyes, based on the intense practice I saw, the Saints landed a lightning bolt. And they already have a package of plays designed to unleash him," he wrote.
The fact that there are already plays in place to unleash his potential should make fantasy owners (and potential ones) smile from ear to ear. It shows commitment from the Saints. It's not often that rookies have featured plays in an offense. Cooks is good enough (and certainly fast enough) to warrant special treatment.
Don't be the owner who passes up Cooks for a middle-of-the-road second- or third-year receiver. Don't be afraid to select a rookie. Don't be afraid of the depth of the Saints offense.
Cooks will get plenty of looks per game. Heck, he might even be the Offensive Rookie of the Year come season's end. Take him as your third wideout and reap the benefits of even more production.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: @KennyDeJohn_BR