We Need To Talk About Jared Cook

Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook

You’re racking up credit card charges that’ll make you wretch in January, you’re drinking to excess and humiliating yourself at holiday parties every weekend, and Jared Cook is about to become fantasy relevant again.

Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook
Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook catches a pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half at LP Field Don McPeak USA TODAY Sports

It’s December.

Think of Cook, a physical specimen at 6-foot-5 and 249 pounds who runs the 40 in an astounding 4.5 seconds, as Jermichael Finley if Finley were good at football. He was a much-discussed preseason darling – for the second year running – among rotoheads in large part because he mutilated defenses in the final full month of the 2011 regular season.

Cook, in his fourth year with the Titans, collected 21 receptions, 335 yards and a touchdown in his final three games of 2011, making mincemeat out of linebackers who couldn’t stay within three steps of the big man, and safeties who could only dream of battling the giant tight end for throws down the seam. He finished the 2010 season in a similarly glorious fashion, flashing his speed, soft hands, and route running chops in performances that made fantasy freaks slobber all offseason.

Cook’s dominance was no fluke. Cook was, by all indications, a legit offensive threat who could be a centerpiece of an NFL offense.

Then the 2012 season rolled around, and Cook found himself used as a situational player in a moribund Tennessee offense. In Week 4, for instance, Cook played a meager 24 offensive snaps. In Week 10, Cook played behind defensive-end-turned-tight-end Taylor Thompson.

Cook’s usage was, in short, a crime against real and fake football alike.

Well, good news: Chris Palmer, the villain holding hostage a potentially explosive Tennessee offense, was canned two weeks ago – a move that should have been made a year earlier. In his place came Dowell Loggains, and what do you know? Cook played 65 offensive snaps against the Texans in Week 13 (85 percent of the Titans’ plays), marking a season high.

The Week 13 box score won’t inspire unwavering confidence in anyone. Cook finished with four grabs for 51 yards in a blowout loss. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find that quarterback Jake Locker targeted Cook 12 times last week, more than double Cook’s average targets per game. The chances were there. I think he’ll convert them into yardage very soon.

Fantasy Douche pointed out last summer that Cook was a tight end to watch in 2012 because he had proven so brutally efficient in rather limited opportunities. Rob Gronkowski was the only tight end in 2011 to finish with more yards per target than Cook, whose 9.4 yards per target was well above guys like Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, and Antonio Gates.

I’m not going to pretend that it won’t take significant intestinal fortitude to use Cook this week against the Colts. Indy is only allowing 6.8 fantasy points per game to tight ends, having kept tight ends to less than five points six times this season. It should also be noted that the Lions’ and Patriots’ tight ends ripped the Colts to the tune of 40 combined points.

I have Cook ranked as Week 14’s No. 13 tight end, so if you have a better option, go ahead and use that guy. If you’re stuck though, don’t settle for a Brent Celek or Dennis Pitta or Brandon Pettigrew.

Play Cook. It’s December, after all, so he might bring you fleeting Sunday afternoon joy before the horror of the holidays consumes you whole.


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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.