Buffalo Bills rookie James Cook should be one of the finest pass-catching running backs in the NFL and fantasy football. His 2022 fantasy prognosis is comparable to that of the top rookie RBs this season. Having said that, the NFL season and fantasy drafts are rapidly approaching. In this piece, we're going to look at the important James Cook fantasy football outlook, and if he can add value at his current ADP?
Because of his second-round draft projection, pass-catching ability, explosiveness, and offensive circumstance, Cook has immediate sleeper fantasy appeal across all PPR formats. The 5'11 199-pound running back has more than enough bulk to handle a heavy workload, especially as an out-of-the-backfield receiver.
Of course, he will likely play alongside or behind Devin Singletary, who was the Bills' primary back for the final six weeks of the 2021 regular season. Cook, however, appears to be priced closer to his bottom than his ceiling at an ECR of RB44. That's considering how Round 2 running backs have finished in the top 36 more than half of the time since 2013.
Can Cook really provide good value in 2022? Here is what fantasy owners should anticipate from him this coming season.
James Cook Fantasy Football Outlook
Truthfully, Cook is one of the most divisive rookies this season. Overall, it was a tough draft year for rookie running backs. Even the obvious top two running backs, Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker III, found themselves in less-than-ideal landing locations. It's also why Cook has risen in the rankings despite the fact that some critics dislike his play style.
Of course, when the best pass-catching RB in the class is picked by the Buffalo Bills at No. 63, you tend to pay attention. And fantasy managers have indeed taken notice. To wit, Cook has soared up draft boards and is now firmly in the mid-round mix.
He was a four-year starter at Georgia but didn't seal his spot on the team until 2021. Cook, in fact, shared the backfield with multiple RBs including Zamir White and D'Andre Swift.
He ran 113 times for 728 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games for the Bulldogs last season. He is a quick runner who can grab the lead or race into daylight. Cook would reel off massive plays on several occasions. To illustrate, 10+ yard runs accounted for about 40 percent of his 2021 running total (290).
Yes, there are concerns about him as a pure rusher, particularly his consistency, contact balance, and general aggressiveness. Still, Cook established himself as a receiving threat, collecting 27 catches for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Because he has the finest hands in the class, this is where he will provide value to the Bills.
The truth is the Bills needed another pass-catcher to target for Josh Allen. It was the reason they first pursued J.D. McKissic entering free agency. Of course, he rejected the Bills and returned to Washington after originally agreeing to terms. Cook's pick almost confirms that this was a need they wished to fill.
Keep in mind that Cook will be the passing-down RB on the NFL's fifth-fastest offense. Buffalo's 65 percent pass rate was second only to Tampa Bay, indicating that this role is extremely valuable.
This Josh Allen and James Cook duo is about to go crazy 🔥🔥
(📸 @BuffaloBills) pic.twitter.com/yQRb0NjSO9
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 9, 2022
Consider, however, that the Bills' offense is loaded. That could work either way for Cook. He will never be required to be the man, but even then, he should be useful in fantasy. Remember that chasing upside via targets is never a terrible tactic when seeking for extra depth on your squad.
Right now, Cook appears to be a mid-round prospect along with comparable running backs like Nyheim Hines, McKissic, and Michael Carter. If you want to wait for fantasy RBs or want some upside, Cook in the RB4 bracket is worth considering.
Last season, we witnessed what could happen if the Bills deployed a single running back as a workhorse. Singletary actually went off in their final four games. He carried 80 times for 375 yards and four touchdowns and caught 14 catches (17 targets) for 110 yards. That made him the RB2 over this period, trailing only Rashaad Penny (22.0 PPR/game to 19.7 PPR/game).
That means Singletary is on first and second down, with occasional red-zone use but no consistent passing volume. Cook, on the other hand, will trail Singletary in overall volume and will lack a consistent rushing floor. The youngster, however, makes up for it in receiving yards.
Experts have ranked Cook as the RB40 in PPR settings, with an ADP of 115. That puts him in the middle of the ninth round in 12-team fantasy teams.
There has been a lot of talk about how the Bills don't target their running backs and how Cook is unlikely to get the projected volume. But what if Buffalo's proclivity to throw stemmed from a lack of trust in its talent? Having Cook now allows the Bills to add a new dimension to their offense in 2022. That could be blind optimism or progressive thinking.
After everything, Cook will still play a part in this Bills offense. His true worth, though, may come in 2023, assuming Singletary leaves in free agency. Cook as an RB4/5 in a PPR scoring scheme might be lucrative in 2022, but there is always some uncertainty there. Singletary is still going to be Buffalo's RB1, but do not discount RB2/flex upside for Cook as well.