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Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: James Cook, RB BUF

The Bills added a new running back to their explosive offense. How will he perform for your dynasty teams?

James Cook

The NFL Draft is behind us, rookie drafts are taking place, and as dynasty owners, we are looking ahead to the upcoming season. In the Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update series, we break down all the incoming fantasy-relevant rookies, looking at their profiles and where they fit.

Name: James Cook

Position: Running Back

Pro Team: Buffalo Bills

College Team: Georgia

Draft Status: Round two, 63rd overall

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Cook is adept enough as a receiver that he can be split out wide:

Or you can send him in motion and let him find a natural mismatch and torch the defense. Attempting to cover him with a linebacker is probably not the best idea.

Though it’s his receiving skills that really pop, Cook’s speed allows him to hit a hole quickly and pick up positive yards whenever there’s a crease. Skip to 0:32 of the below video and watch three straight Cook running plays that should ease some of your concerns surrounding his between-the-tackles skills.

Y0u can also find video highlights for Cook on the DLF NFL Draft Prospect Page.

COMBINE REVIEW

Cook’s 4.42-second 40-yard dash is in the 88th percentile, while his 124” broad jump falls into the 84th percentile. Cooks is explosive and fast.

STRENGTHS

  • Speed
  • Explosive and accelerates through the hole
  • Receiving ability
  • Efficient runner (6.4 yards per carry) even as his workload increased to a career-high 113 carries in 2021
  • Seriously his receiving ability, he can run legitimate wide receiver routes and anytime a linebacker is forced to cover him in space, he could take it to the house
  • Despite playing four years of college ball, he only has 297 career touches so he has plenty of the coveted “tread” left on the proverbial tires

WEAKNESSES

  • Undersized. His diminutive stature could limit his ability ever to be a true three-down back
  • Pass blocking is a struggle, again due to his size

OPPORTUNITIES

Cook joins a Bills offense that ranked third in points per game last season, scoring 29.9 per contest. It might be speculation, but not wild speculation, that part of the reason the Bills invested so highly in Cook is they realize that Josh Allen rushing 7.18 times per game is not the best idea for his long-term health.

Drafted in the second round, there should be every expectation that Cook will be heavily used in the offense immediately, even if that might be mostly as a receiving option to start his career. Though Devin Singletary (a personal favorite) is on the roster, the Bills have gone out of their way to tell us that they truly do not believe in him as their primary back. They drafted Zack Moss last year and tried to hand him the starting gig, but Moss is plain bad. They attempted to sign JD McKissic this off-season – a player whose strong suit is as a receiver, similar to Cook, except that Cook is a far superior athlete. Singletary is also a free agent after the 2022 season.

Considering Cook’s profile, draft capital, and Singletary’s pending free agency, the future is wide open for Cook.

THREATS

All of Cook’s opportunity is almost tied into projection. Cook’s biggest strength is as a pass-catcher but the Bills targeted the running back position just 16% of the time in 2021, compared to the 19% for league average. What happens if the Bills don’t significantly increase the targets to the running back position or Cook can’t supplant Singletary as the primary running back?

Including the playoffs, Singletary did run for at least 80 yards in four of the Bills’ final six games in 2021 and was also targeted at least four times in three of those six games. Moss, despite seemingly falling out of favor with the coaching staff last year, does still exist so, in theory, he could also still get some usage. The biggest threat to Cook’s fantasy upside is his quarterback. Allen has averaged 581 rushing yards and 7.75 rushing touchdowns a season through his first four seasons, which are yards and touchdowns being taken directly out of the Bills running back production.

SHORT-TERM EXPECTATIONS

It’s a tale as old as time. Rookie running starts the season in some type of committee with the incumbent, and then the rookie, who is simply a better running back, slowly takes over the majority of the workload.

LONG-TERM EXPECTATIONS

RB1. The Bills are an explosive, high-scoring offense. They have limited pass-catching threats, so much so that the dynasty community continues to attempt to make Gabriel Davis a thing. They invested highly in Cook, and he’s a complete mismatch as a receiver against opposing defenses. My expectations are Cook sees an Alvin Kamara-lite-type workload, circa 2019 and 2020. That might seem like a lofty goal, but running backs with Cook’s receiving ability are a cheat code, especially when they aren’t just limited to being a receiving option like Tarik Cohen, and JD McKissic are/were.

NFL PLAYER COMPARISON

I don’t feel like getting a bunch of hate mail, so I won’t mention Kamara again. So how about Miles Sanders, but durable? Imagine how good Sanders could be if he could play more than six straight games, or reduce his fumbles.

PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE

Cook is going off the board at 1.12 in DLFs May Superflex rookie draft ADP. In real-world MFL rookie drafts, he’s currently the RB3, 1.11.

I’ve been in more than a few rookie drafts – 15 or so – and in them, Cook is often going off the board as early as 1.08 and no later than 1.12.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: James Cook, RB BUF
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Steve Hales
2 months ago

If you believe the long-term expectation, reported here, shouldn’t there be an argument for him going 1.01?
I wouldn’t do that myself but then I haven’t seen an article so high on him, until now.

Last edited 2 months ago by Steve Hales
Steve Hales
Reply to  Shane Manila
2 months ago

Thanks Shane, in fairness that does align closer with your comparison of him to Miles Sanders.

Stephen Paratore
2 months ago

I simply do not get the hype. Too light to be an every down back, not enough volume to be more than low end RB2 IF he can get enough carries to go with the catches. Cook also does not look the part to get goal line carries & like Baltimore the QB scores a lot of rushing TD’s.

Gregory Massa
Reply to  Shane Manila
2 months ago

I think it’s far more likely he sees ~130 total touches… though if he were to maintain his college production (rushing/receiving avgs) I think it’s plausible he could come close to 1K total yards with 6-9 total TDs. That’s my very non-professional guesstimate. Think: Nyheim Hines with a bit more running game involvement.

6gummybearsandsomescotch
2 months ago

I think his ADP is more of a testament to how thin the draft gets in 2022 after the first 8 picks. If he was at the 2.03 or 2.04, we’re all probably taking that. Love the analysis, Shane! We should always be taking explosive players from big programs on explosive teams, especially at RB. Zack Moss had 97 carries in about 12 games so 130 carries is more than reasonable, especially with Allen running less. I’m actually rising on Cook if he’s at 1.11 or 1 12 and there is certainly a world where he is better than Watson, Moore and Dotson though I would probably still take one of them based on longevity. I really think this draft is trade out or just go get your guy and have fun.

neil chester
Reply to  Shane Manila
2 months ago

It seems like the O prob has a plan for this role now, after missing out on JDMck. Bills seem like a team to try new offensive wrinkles. I’m open to that possibility and therefore 1.9-12 range is apt

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