Fantasy Football Sleeper Spotlight: Can Jared Cook Emerge as a Viable Tight End?

Eric StashinSenior Writer IJuly 27, 2011

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 29: Jared Cook #89 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at LP Field on November 29, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Cardinals 20-17. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

We all know that tight end is a position that you are never quite sure what to expect from.  In any given week there always appears to be someone that emerges out of nowhere to put up an impressive outing (Joel Dressens with four receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in Week 11 against the Jets).  We’ve seen guys explode for a few weeks, only to regress back to being unusable (Dustin Keller in 2011).

If you choose not to go after one of the top tight ends in the league, it is sorting through the low-end guys and finding the diamond in the rough that could help lead you to fantasy success.  While Jimmy Graham is getting a lot of the attention as a tight end who could emerge in 2011, let's not overlook the TitansJared Cook.

One of the knocks against him, at least right now, is the complete unknown hanging over who will quarterback the team.  As of right now Rusty Smith and Brett Ratliff are the two options on the depth chart, though we all know that once free agency “officially” begins later in the week, addressing this situation will be high on the priority list.

Assuming that it is resolved, Cook should look like a viable deep sleeper in all formats.

Entering his third year in the league, Cook has not posted very attractive numbers over his first two seasons (38 receptions for 435 yards and one TD over 30 games).  However, he really started to produce in the second half of last season.  Through the first 10 weeks he had three receptions for 58 yards.  In Week 11 he suddenly became a viable option in the offense, catching 26 passes for 303 yards and one TD in the seven games.

Just look at how he finished the year over the final two weeks:

  • Week 16—five receptions for 96 yards and one TD
  • Week 17—seven receptions for 58 yards

Maybe it is just a flash in the pan, but it is clear that the team made a concerted effort to get him into the mix on the offensive end.  With Kenny Britt mired in potential legal issues Cook, who actually finished third on the team in receiving yards, could really become a major cog in this offense.

When he was drafted two years ago the comparison (click here for his scouting report) compared him to Vernon Davis and listed his positives as:

“Rare athlete. Reportedly ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash and posted a 39.5-inch vertical leap in 2007. Long, lanky build capable of handling additional mass without a significant loss of quickness. Good burst off the line of scrimmage to challenge the seam and can throttle down, sink his hips and create separation against even athletic defenders. Flashes natural hands for the reception. Can snatch passes outside of his frame due to his long arms and big hands. Good elusiveness after the catch and can accelerate past defenders for long gains. Good burst off the snap to get to the second level. Has the lateral agility to mirror and effectively block defenders in space.”

Just remember that Vernon Davis has emerged the past two years as one of the best tight ends in the game, with over 900 yards each season and a total of 20 TD.  Can Cook start to develop into that type of player?  He appears primed to be given the opportunity, meaning he should definitely be on all fantasy radars.

What are your thoughts of Cook?  Is he a player you think could emerge in 2011?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out the early rankings from Rotoprofessor: