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Is James Cook the Starting RB for the Bills? Where To Draft Cook for Fantasy Football

james cook fantasy football rookies rankings running backs draft sleepers NFL draft

Buffalo Bills running back James Cook was drafted 63rd overall in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft. He was the third running back off the board behind Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker III.

This is significant draft capital for a position in which we so frequently see later-round success. Especially for a player who didn’t see the workload you would expect from a 4-year college career.

Can James Cook be fantasy-relevant for a Bills team that is capable of making a deep playoff run? Let's take a look!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


What the Bills Need From James Cook in 2022

Cook did not see more than 45 carries until his senior season at Georgia, where he received 113 during the team's championship run. His high in receptions also came as a senior with 27 catches. You would expect more in that department for someone who is considered a passing game specialist at the position.

The element that is undeniable about the rookie both on tape and shown by his career 6.5 yards per carry, is his explosiveness. This is something that the Bills were missing in their running back room, and something they prioritized in the pass-catching role specifically. We saw their intention to bolster this at the position when they went after J.D. McKissic in free agency.

When they couldn’t land McKissic, the Bills turned to the draft, and a 10.9 average yards per catch helped Cook stand out. A lot of people consider the Buffalo Bills the best offense in the NFL. Believe it or not, James Cook is the fastest offensive weapon in this top offense. Proven by our favorite speed metric the 40-yard dash, he and wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie came in at 4.42 speed. 

Devin Singletary ran 375 routes in 2021. This was the 4th most at the position, more than premier pass-catching backs like D’Andre Swift and Aaron Jones. You see the usage for this role that leaves plenty of opportunities for James Cook to show off his big play ability with upgraded route running and pure receiving skills.


James Cook Fantasy Football Expectations

While he might currently be the Bills' RB2, he is being drafted as an RB4 in fantasy drafts. Receiving usage is more important than ever in fantasy football. Expect the rookie to be used from a traditional backfield position as well as lined up as a wide receiver.

Cook presents a pass-catching floor with the upside to grow his role between the tackles in a top offense. NFL Draft capital, an immediate role to fill, paired with a unique skill set, can all lead to a successful NFL rookie season and make Cook an impact player for fantasy football. He should be targeted in the middle-to-later rounds of drafts.

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