The Return of Randall Cobb – What Does It Mean?

by Aditya Fuldeore, August 12, 2021

Packers fans rejoice! Aaron Rodgers is back, and with him, Randall Cobb! In a trade with the Houston Texans, Cobb returns to his original team, which currently has an open competition for the No. 2 wide receiver.

A former Pro Bowler, Cobb had the best years of his career as a Packer catching passes from Rodgers. Should we expect him to slot right back in as a top-two receiver for the Packers? The 30-year-old is trending upwards in fantasy, and his relationship with Rodgers suggests that his return is not to be ignored.

 

Cobb’s History

As a Texan last season, Randall Cobb appeared in 10 games, compiling 38 (No. 71 among qualified wide receivers) receptions and 441 (No. 80) receiving yards. Although Cobb wasn’t a top receiver, he had an efficient 79.2-percent (No. 3) Catch Rate. He primarily worked out of the slot with a shallow 6.7 (No. 101) Average Target Distance and a 65.5-percent Slot Rate.

Cobb has historically worked out of the slot often. He had 86.4-percent Slot Rates in both 2018 and 2019 and has a near 70-percent Catch Rate over his entire career. He also sees above-average QB play when targeted. Over the last four seasons, Cobb has had at least a 91 or higher QB Rating when targeted. This culminated in a 125.8 (No. 9) QB Rating When Targeted last season for Deshaun Watson. His veteran route-running is valuable to his quarterback, and the quarterbacks throwing to him have been top-tier throughout his career. He gets open and is trusted by close friend and MVP Aaron Rodgers. Cobb had zero drops last season, and, except for minor 2018 and 2019 bumps, has not dropped the ball often in his career

As efficient a pass-catcher that Cobb has been, he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2015, and has missed a combined 14 games over the last three seasons. His injury issues are a concern, but with such a large gap between the ADP of Davante Adams and the next batch of Packers receivers, the risk is softened at his current draft value (as long as it doesn’t skyrocket into round 12 or earlier).

Cobb’s 2021 Fit

With the 2021 Green Bay team, Randall Cobb can easily be the slot receiver and get the second-most targets on the team. After Cobb’s 2018 departure, the Packers have rotated several different receivers through the slot and have not established a No. 2 wide receiver behind Davante Adams. Geronimo Allison had the highest Slot Rate in 2019, but he did not earn many targets and is no longer with the team. Aaron Rodgers didn’t exactly have a set slot guy in 2020. Adams, Allen Lazard, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling all spent time in the slot over the last two seasons.

Randall Cobb Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Now, the Packers can and will use Cobb in the slot, providing Rodgers a sense of stability. Last season, Valdes-Scantling, Adams, and Lazard all had at least 3.4 Slot Fantasy Points Per Target. Cobb himself had 7.12 Slot Fantasy Points Per Target. Spending the majority of his snaps out of the slot will help maximize his fantasy output. He is set up for high opportunity in Green Bay.

Outside of Adams, no other Packer receiver exceeded 65 targets last season. Adams, Valdes-Scantling, Aaron Jones and Robert Tonyan were the only players to exceed 47 targets. For comparison, Cobb hit 48 targets in just 10 games last season. He would already be the fifth-most targeted player and third-most targeted WR on the Packers. In fact, his 14.6-percent (No. 71) Target Share would have been third highest on the 2020 Green Bay squad. Cobb is a seasoned veteran and has commanded big-time targets from Rodgers in the past. He has a nice path to getting big-time targets again now.

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Impact on other Wide Receivers?

Other than Davante Adams and Randall Cobb, Green Bay has Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling competing in the Packer WR room. Guys like Devin Funchess and Equanimeous St. Brown don’t project to be relevant. In the past couple of years, Lazard and Valdes-Scantling have been late-round picks or waiver wire/streaming options. Neither saw more than 65 targets a season in that time span. Neither have above a 16.5-percent (outside the top 65) Dominator Rating the last two years, either. While Lazard and Valdes-Scantling will see a small decrease in opportunity, you likely were not drafting them to be top 50 fantasy WRs anyway.

Amari Rodgers’ (hereby referred to as Amari to avoid confusion with Aaron) dynasty value is hardly impacted by Cobb, but his Best Ball and redraft value takes a hit. Amari was a candidate to be the Packers’ primary slot receiver this season, but with Cobb’s return, he may not get the chance. Amari’s build is similar to Cobb’s.

Amari Rodgers Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

While he is just a little heavier and slower than Cobb, Amari can be used in a multitude of ways a weapon for the Packers. He finished with 1,020 receiving yards in 2020 for Clemson and was useful on special teams as well. He’s also younger than Cobb but does not have Rodgers’ trust like Cobb does. So, continue to invest in Amari for dynasty, but pull back just a bit for redraft and Best Ball. He won’t splash right away but will learn the slot from one of the best in Cobb.

Impact on Aaron Rodgers?

Randall Cobb’s impact on Aaron Rodgers fantasy-wise is minimal. Rodgers was a baller last year, and now with Cobb, he’s going to stay a baller. The impact on Rodgers is more on team dynamics and to ease the relationship between the front office and their MVP QB. Media tension, and therefore fantasy players’ tension, can be eased knowing Rodgers is a Packer for at least another year.

There’s no doubt that the move to get Cobb by Green Bay was to help appease Rodgers. Now, he once again has the 1-2 wide receiver punch he had from 2016 to 2018. In that timespan, in which Davante Adams and Cobb were arguably Rodgers’ top-two targets, he made two pro-bowls and hit 4,400 passing yards twice. The lone outlier being a season in which he was hurt for half the year. A-Rod is once again a candidate to finish as a top-5 fantasy QB, and Cobb is viable as the Packers’ No. 2 wide receiver in redraft and Best Ball.