44 targets over the first five games of 2013 made Randall Cobb fantasy football's early-season darling. He was on his way to leading the team in numerous receiving categories, while I was on my way to trash-talk heaven. He had double-digit points in each of his first four games. Almost at five in a row, a legal, but arguably unsafe, hit to the legs caused a fractured fibula and ten weeks away from the field. Packers fans and fantasy owners (I was in both of those groups) wept like we just lost a pet. Cobb threatens by rushing, receiving and potentially returning, so his presence means a lot to his physical team as well as fantasy squads.
Cobb returned for the last two games of 2013, but only saw four targets. He produced the most memorable touchdown of the season, but those final targets were a bit underwhelming for Cobb dynasty league owners.
Will Rodgers continue to target him? Is the Packers' schedule tough? Will his contract distract from the playing field? Before we get into those questions, let's watch that touchdown again.
With Aaron Rodgers back and still in his prime, you can rest assured - the Packers will continue to throw the ball. Each of the past three seasons, Rodgers (or the combination of Packers QBs) has exceeded 500 attempts and 4,000 yards. Last year we even saw Scott Tolzien throw for 300+ yards in a game. Even as the running game emerged, the Packers threw the ball consistently.
Eddie Lacy's success won't completely change things this season either - the team has far too much success to abandon the pass. If anything, Lacy's presence will draw linebackers and safeties closer to the line of scrimmage, allowing Cobb to roam free up the middle.Randall Cobb's fantasy football value increases because of Jordy Nelson.
Keep in mind, Cobb is technically the team's number two option. Jordy Nelson remains number one, as his recent contract extension confirms. This is a huge advantage for Cobb who is typically much faster than an opposing #2 cornerback, or a linebacker (if playing from the slot). Since Packers WRs play all positions, exploiting a mismatch will be easier than having to play against a #1 DB all day long.
Right now, the first two weeks of the season look to be the toughest against the pass (at the Seahawks and home against the Jets). Starting in week three, the schedule eases a bit, but isn't the easiest as the Packers play division games at the Lions and Bears then coming home to face the Vikings in week 5.
The Bears have the best secondary of the division opponents, but are still aging at the linebacker position. Cobb will be challenged against their DBs, but will be able to gain yards out of the backfield or up the seam (like he did above).
Weeks six and seven should be field days at Miami and home against Carolina. Miami's defense is middle-of-the-road at best, and Carolina had some of the worst DBs in the league last year. The Panthers' pass rush makes the DBs look better than they are, so Cobb's quickness should exploit the secondary if Rodgers stays upright.
Later in the season, the Packers host the Eagles (week 11) and the Falcons (week 14). The Eagles gave up the most passing yards in the league last year. They can also gain a lot of yards in a hurry, so the potential for a shootout is high that week. The Falcons' secondary is still very young, with both starting DBs only having 16 games of experience each. Their first trip to Lambeau will not be easy in December. Rodgers should be able to pick them apart, especially the shorter Robert Alford, who is the same height as Cobb.2014 schedule for the Packers
Overall, the Packers' schedule (for now) seems pass-friendly. After the first two weeks, a week eight matchup at New Orleans and a week 15 trip to Buffalo seem to be the hardest weeks. Rodgers may not throw for 300 yards every week, but not many secondaries have much depth beyond one very good corner and a decent safety. Referring back - Cobb's ability to line up all over the field allows Mike Mccarthy to exploit defenses and assign Cobb routes that get him open.
Age and Training Camp
At only 23, Cobb is a veteran that is still on the rise. He knows the Packers want to make sure he can return to his promising form prior to the leg injury before they offer him big bucks. Unfortunately, Cobb has been lackluster thus far in camp with uncharacteristic drops. He's getting open and targeted, but not hauling in the ball as consistently as expected.
Playing in a contract year, Cobb even admitted to not having done enough to earn a new contract yet. This shows that he continues to have the drive to do well, knowing that a pay day relies heavily on his performance this year.
Personally, I think the looming contract is a distraction right now. Cobb needs game time to get back in the groove. I won't be surprised if his agent suspends talks heading into the season. Once Cobb has that behind him, he'll be able to concentrate on the ball and the end zone.
As long as Jordy stays healthy, he and Cobb are borderline WR1s regardless of QB. Without Jordy, Cobb's potential takes a hit as opposing #1 cornerbacks will focus on Cobb more than normal. Either way, if you draft Cobb, you're getting 80+ catches, 900+ yards and 6+ TDs, as well as some runs out of the backfield which typically net 10+ yards at a time.
He's going as high as the second round in some mock drafts right now, which I think is a bit high. I think the third round is right for him, and if he drops lower, you're getting a steal.