I’ve been thinking about fantasy football non-stop. It’s been a ripe sickness, pillaging my brain and stealing my waking hours. I know that the games don’t start for over a month, but I’m already getting my leagues ready for the draft. I’ve been poring over rankings all day, looking for 5th-round sleepers that could blow up (Russell Wilson makes me break the 10th Commandment), and early-round picks that could implode (Darren McFadden was the real-life inspiration for The Walking Dead). In all of that research, though, one thing seems to stand out:
Fantasy Football in 2013 will belong to Randall Cobb.
Will he go ahead of Adrian Peterson? No. Will he beat out Megatron as the top wide receiver in the league? Probably not. But rest assured: Randall Cobb has arrived as a legitimate early-round draft pick, and could merit the top WR spot on many competitive teams this year. What makes me say that? Well, the writing’s on the wall.
One ESPN fantasy-prep article illuminates a particular theory for wide receivers: the third year’s the charm. It cites 2012 phenoms Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, and Eric Decker as guys who exploded in their junior campaigns to become more than reliable fantasy options, but rather go-to first string guys owned, and started, unanimously in different leagues. Guess what? Cobb’s entering that magical third year that seems to treat guys at his position so well. But since he already broke out a little bit in his sophomore season, could his third year stand to be even better?
Fantasy rankings seem to think so. Not to mention that Cobb might be the new favorite target of arguably the NFL’s best quarterback. After Greg Jennings left for
greener less frozen pastures in Minnesota, Randall looks to be the #1 guy lining up to handle Aaron Rodgers’ balls, which is one of only two careers where that signifies great success. ESPN has him as the #11 WR, and gives him the benefit of the doubt because he’s just that good:
In fantasy football, it’s our job to be open-minded. When a talented guy in a valuable role doesn’t exactly fit the mold, we watch film to decide whether the nontraditional player is legit. Randall Cobb is legit. In fact, with Greg Jennings in Minnesota, we believe Cobb will be Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target in ’13. He played 84.4 percent of his snaps out of the slot last year and will start there this season, but he’ll also run quite a bit out of the Green Bay backfield. Simply put, the Packers need the ball in Cobb’s hands. His skills compare favorable to Percy Harvin’s. As Jordy Nelson and James Jones share outside looks, the middle of the field should be Cobb’s.
NFL leagues project him even higher at #6, ahead of guys like Larry Fitzgerald, Vincent Jackson, Percy Harvin, and Roddy White.
Cobb had an impressive season all-around, racking up 2,342 all-purpose yards — 954 receiving, 132 rushing, 964 on kick returns, and 292 on punt returns — and nine total touchdowns over 15 games. With Greg Jennings out of the lineup for eight contests this season, Cobb saw at least seven targets in 10 outings, which should increase, since Jennings will likely leave the Packers through free agency. Whatever happens on that front, Cobb will undergo his second full offseason in the team’s program and possibly enter 2013 as a starter, so he is certainly on the upswing in fantasy circles.
And if you’re playing in a PPR (Points Per Reception) league? Forget it. Cobb was already 17th in the league last year with 80 receptions, and this year that number looks to explode as he moves up the depth chart and further ingratiates himself into Rodger’s good graces. Getting into the top ten in that category won’t be a surprise at all for the ubiquitous
receiver punt returner wildcat QB football player.
What does all this mean for us? It means we can stop drafting a former UK guy just because he’s a former UK guy, and start drafting him first at his position because he’s earned it. So get your leagues named and ready (Dibs on “Four Thin Inches”), because the Year of the Cobb is almost upon us.