Who Gets Bumped with Brandin Cooks’ Injury?
One of the better rookies this season has been Brandin Cooks of the New Orleans Saints, but due to a fractured thumb, he will be sidelined for the next few weeks annd possibly the rest of the regular season. The Saints are masters when it comes to distributing the football, but given how many different situations Cooks is involved in, we should see a bump to a few New Orleans players. Remember, Cooks has been New Orleans’ best WR this year (he’s also not far behind Jimmy Graham in FPTS on the year). Cooks is used on several different passing routes, and he’s often handed the ball on jet sweeps inside the red zone. Here’s who we can expect a bump for in order from biggest to smallest.
Kenny Stills – Stills was already receiving an increased role in the offense over the last several weeks, and this should only help his case. Instead of getting four or five targets a game, we should see closer to seven. Cooks was seeing approximately 75% of snaps with Stills around 50%, so expect Stills to get to Cooks’ number. Cooks probably won’t be used on the jet sweeps in the red zone, but you can expect Brees to use him in other ways when teams focus on Graham and Marques Colston.
Saints RBs – For now, this mainly applies to Mark Ingram for obvious reasons given the injuries to Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson. Ingram did have a bit of a rough day against the Bengals, but he still got 23 carries and will be the goal line back for now. Ingram should bounce back. But when (and if) Pierre Thomas returns, don’t be surprised to see him involved in his usual 5-to-10 carries, but 5 receptions as well. Thomas is used a lot in the screen game, and Cooks is the only WR New Orleans uses with screens. If New Orleans gets into the red zone, we have seen Graham used as a decoy, and a screen set up for Thomas on the opposite side. Essentially, if he comes back, Thomas is a cheap GPP option.
Jimmy Graham – I wouldn’t expect much of an increase for Graham, but it does help a little bit. The Saints are entering crunch time in trying to make the playoffs. Brees hasn’t been on the same page with some of his weapons, but Cooks and Graham are at the top of the list. New Orleans’ remaining schedule has a ton of weak pass defenses: Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, Carolina, at Chicago, Atlanta, at Tampa Bay. We might see vintage Graham here on occasion down the stretch.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz