Tired of scoring less than 19 points a game for the last three years, the St. Louis Rams loaded up on offensive playmakers this year. First-round pick Tavon Austin grabbed most of the headlines following the team's move up in the draft to get him. But it's another player added this year that should be at the top of your list for fantasy football targets: tight end Jared Cook.
The Rams signed Cook to a five-year, $35 million contract in the offseason. He's among the highest paid tight ends in the NFL, and he showed the world why in St. Louis' season opener on Sunday.
Bradford connected with Cook on seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. It doubled his touchdown total from last season, which was a career-best four. More importantly for the Rams and your fantasy hopes, it portended bigger things to come in St. Louis.
Cook will be something akin to a No. 1 receiver with the Rams. He lines up all over the field, making plays from the outside, the slot and on the line where you usually expect to find tight ends.
His connection with Bradford was evident in the preseason, and this week's game did nothing to change that. In fact, if you look closely at Bradford's career, you can see that he's always had a favorite target. It was Danny Amendola prior to this season. Some of that was by default; the Rams just didn't have any other reliable options for him.
Obviously, you can't count on Cook for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns every week. And the Rams do have other receiving option on the roster these days, including Austin and Chris Givens. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if Cook finishes the season with the team lead in targets and receptions.
Next week's matchup with the Falcons would seem to favor Cook again. Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, to whom Cook is sometimes compared, caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown in a win over Atlanta. He lead the Saints' multi-faceted attack in targets. Last season, the Falcons were ranked 21st in defending tight ends, allowing an average of 6.7 passes and 56.6 yard per game, according to Football Outsiders.
There's a good chance Cook is not going to be available on waivers in your league, and trading for him at this point could cost you more than you should pay. However, keep an eye on him, and if you have him on your team, don't think twice about starting him.