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Has Randall Cobb’s Time as a Fantasy Stud Ended?

Randall Cobb Fantasy 2017

Randall CobbRandall Cobb was at one time quite a stud in fantasy football terms, and someone owners would kill to get into their lineups. Times sure have changed. As we slowly begin to turn our thoughts towards the 2017 season, I offer my thoughts as to why Cobb is a player you should let other owners waste their time with.

The 2014 season, at the time appearing to be the beginning of an era of dominance, seems instead to have ushered in an era of fantasy mediocrity for Cobb. Seeing 127 targets, Cobb reeled in 91 of them for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns. He amassed on average 5.6 catches per game, and his receptions were worth 14.1 yards each. Cobb’s market share in the Green Bay Packers passing game was a healthy 23%, and he rewarded this by posting a WR6 season. In 2015, with Jordy Nelson missing for the entire campaign, it was hoped that Cobb would see his role and returns increase. It didn’t happen. Despite seeing two more targets than in 2014, Cobb reeled in just 79 of these 129 looks. Even more concerning, his yardage total dropped from 1287 to 829, while his touchdown number fell by exactly half.

2016 was even worse for Cobb. After seeing 23 and 22.5 percent of the team targets in his previous two seasons, Cobb garnered a 13.5% market share, with just 84 targets. His 60 receptions were worth 610 yards, at 10.2 yards per reception, and he found the end zone just four times. His receptions per game, a robust 5.7 in 2014, had fallen to 4.6.

The demise of Cobb is all the more concerning given how much more reliant on the arm of Aaron Rodgers the Packers have become. After attempting 536 passes in 2014, the Packers threw 573 in 2015 and 620 in 2016. Their percentage of pass plays in 2014 was 55%, but this number had ballooned to 62.4% in 2016. As these numbers increased, the returns of Cobb went in the other direction.

Davante Adams emergence as a reliable target for Rodgers did little to improve the situation for Cobb. Adams caught 50 of 94 targets in 2015, for 483 yards and one touchdown, with a YPR mark of just 9.7. Fast forward to 2016, and Adams finished a whisker short of a 1000 yard season. His 997 yards (13.2 YPR) came off 75 catches from his 121 targets, a 19.5% share of the Packers passing looks. He also found the end zone 12 times. With Jordy Nelson likely to remain the apple of Rodgers’ eye for a little while yet, it appears clear that Adams has overtaken Cobb as the second BEST option for Rodgers, and thus for fantasy owners.

There is also the not inconsiderable obstacle of Martellus Bennett to consider. One of the better dual threat tight ends around, it is highly unlikely that the Packers would have made one of their rare trips into free agency to pay Bennett $6.3m in a signing bonus to use him as a blocker. They’re going to target him in the passing game. Bennett was fantasy football’s TE7 with the Patriots last season; a number inflated somewhat by seven touchdowns. He has averaged more than four catches a game in the previous five seasons of his career since leaving the Dallas Cowboys, with back to back 55 catch seasons under his belt. He offers the Packers, and Rodgers, a formidable red zone weapon, and another dagger to the value of Randall Cobb.

But is it worth still taking Randall Cobb, given his current value? At present in MFL10 Best Ball drafts, Cobb is being taken as WR37. This is back end WR3/high end WR4 territory. Surely as a dart throw, Cobb could offer something to owners? I’m of the opinion that players are being taken later than Cobb who I would still rather have on my roster. Players like Willie Snead of the Saints (WR40), Rishard Matthews of the Titans (WR41) and Adam Thielen (WR53), for example. I can imagine a lot more upside for this trio than I can for Cobb, who has probably fallen to the third choice at best in his offense.

Of course, should injury strike Nelson or Adams, the opportunities for Randall Cobb should increase. But we’ve already seen what an increase in opportunity means for Cobb – microscopic. It would be foolish to dismiss anyone who plays with Aaron Rodgers, however totally, and it is for this reason that I would certainly make room on my bench for Cobb, but not at his current going rate. I’d be waiting at least two or three rounds later before snapping him up.


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