Fantasy Football: Can Randall Cobb Bounce Back in 2018?
That was his age-24 campaign, and the future looked incredibly bright. Paired with one of the game's best quarterbacks, what could go wrong?
Well, a lot, apparently.
In the three years since that 2014 season, Cobb hasn't come close to those numbers, totaling a mere 14 scores in that three-year span after having 12 touchdowns in 2014. He has yet to eclipse 850 yards and 6 touchdowns in a season since 2014, and last year proved to be much of the same, with Cobb struggling to 650 receiving yards and 4 scores.
With Rodgers finishing a mere six games in 2017, Cobb's efficiency predictably suffered under Brett Hundley.
But last campaign wasn't a one-year wonder, according to our in-house Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which uses historical down-and-distance data to determine what is expected of a player on a per-play basis. (You can read more about NEP in our glossary.)
Cobb's per-target efficiency has been trending down since that magical 2014 season, and last year was just another link in the chain.
|Year||Catches||Reception NEP Per Target|
Among 39 receivers with at least 90 targets in 2017, Cobb finished 30th in Reception NEP per Target with a mark of 0.58, meaning he added 0.58 expected points on every target. For reference, the league average for receivers last year was 0.65 Reception NEP per Target.
Cobb was bad last year, and he's been a below-average wideout, going by Reception NEP per Target, since his huge 2014 season. But in fantasy, efficiency isn't nearly as important as volume, and Cobb could see plenty of volume this year.
With Nelson out of the picture, Cobb would appear to have the inside track to being the Packers' number-two receiver, which is an awfully valuable role.
Historically, the second receiver in a Rodgers-led offense has been productive. Over the past five seasons, the number-two wideout in Green Bay has averaged 107.6 targets, 67.8 receptions, 955 receiving yards, and 9.8 touchdowns.
While these numbers may be a bit aggressive for Cobb, a season close to those marks would prove more than useful for fantasy and make him, at worst, close to an every-week flex option.
There was some chatter earlier this offseason that Green Bay may cut ties with Cobb, and it made all the sense in the world. Cobb hasn't been good, accounts for roughly a $12.6 million cap hit in 2018, per Spotrac, and could have been released with just $3.25 million in dead money.
But Cobb survived, and it was Nelson who got a pink slip. If the Packers were willing to keep Cobb and his large cap hit on the books for the final year of his deal, it sure seems like they think he can be a big factor for them in 2018.
Amazingly, Cobb is entering just his age-28 season, so he's not an old guy yet, and it would appear that this is something of a make-or-break year for him if he wants to be back in Green Bay next year after this contract runs out.
While the past few years have been ugly, the departure of Nelson should lock Cobb into a significant role in the Packers' high-powered passing game. Any starting receiver in a great offense is a player worth having on our radar, and Cobb has shown in the past that he can be a big-time producer when he's peppered with targets.
At a standard-league average draft position of 9.02 and WR39, per Fantasy Football Calculator, Cobb is a pretty nice value right now. Not only does he offer solid floor due to an expected increase in volume, his ceiling isn't too shabby -- especially for a player going this late in drafts -- thanks to what should be a high-scoring offense in Green Bay.
We project Cobb for 73 catches, 772 yards and 5.05 touchdowns this season, making him our WR33, and there's upside for more if no one else steps up on the outside opposite Adams.