2017 Rookie Profile: Dalvin Cook (Fantasy Football)

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For the first installment of the “Rookie Profile” series, I examined the fantasy football value of LSU running back Leonard Fournette. For this edition, all attention will be focused on Florida State’s tailback Dalvin Cook. Without further delay, here’s an overview of arguably the most versatile running back in the entire 2017 rookie class.

NFL Scouting Combine Overview

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Sure, on paper Cook had a rather disappointing performance at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. From a pure metric standpoint, Cook’s test results placed him as a ninth percentile athlete in terms of SPARQ score (Speed, Power, Agility, Reaction and Quickness). Prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, the Florida State product was viewed as an elite prospect. Since then, Cook has received an ample amount of criticism and a perceived decrease in value. The issue is, his performance (or lack thereof) is being blown out of proportion. Yes, Cook disappointed as a whole. At the same time, he performed adequately in multiple categories.

Cook’s forty time of 4.49 seconds tied for seventh among running backs, which is a respectable feat for a 5’ 10” / 210-pound athlete that does not rely on breakaway speed for success. Instead, Cook utilizes a strong core and center of gravity to his advantage as a rusher. This was evident from his 22 bench press reps, which tied for fourth best among all running backs. It was surprising to see Cook tie for thirteenth in the 3 cone drill (7.27 seconds) and 20 yard shuttle (4.53 seconds), as his collegiate tape demonstrates excellent footwork and elusiveness. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the NFL Scouting Combine represents a single piece in a player’s evaluation puzzle.

Collegiate Production

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Similar to his colleague Leonard Fournette out of LSU, Dalvin Cook has an extraordinary resume of college production. In fact, the former Florida State Seminole produced 1,000-yard rushing campaigns in each of his three college seasons. He also recorded a minimum of 22 receptions in each of his three years at school, which proves that he is a versatile threat out of the backfield.

Cook’s touchdown production is also impressive, as he finished his collegiate career with nineteen rushing scores in consecutive seasons. Even more, he averaged an insane 6.5 yard per carry average across his entire stint at FSU. In 2016 alone, Cook recorded a minimum of 100 rushing yards in all but four regular season contests. For two of those performances, he even was able to post rushing totals of 267 yards against South Florida and 225 yards versus Syracuse.

Even though it appears that Cook is a superstar in the making based on his output at the collegiate level, it is necessary to point out a few of his flaws. After all, he is human. That being said, Cook’s most prominent weakness is ball security with thirteen career fumbles. This, coupled with his susceptibility to bounce outside on rushing attempts could spell disaster in the NFL if not addressed and corrected.

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Fantasy Outlook

Before an assessment can be provided on Cook’s fantasy stock, it is worth mentioning that his value will inherently be associated with risk due to off-field issues. In high school, Cook allegedly had charges dropped on two accounts. The first was for robbery (2009), while the second related to possessing a weapon on school property (2010). While attending FSU in 2015, he was charged with misdemeanor battery outside of a Tallahassee bar for reportedly striking a woman. Cook was found not guilty in the case, but there are obvious character concerns surrounding the running back as he enters the NFL Draft.

From a pure talent perspective, Cook is arguably the most gifted running back in the entire 2017 class. His combination of power, elusive speed and versatility bodes well for his chances of making an immediate impact in redraft formats this upcoming season. Landing spot will ultimately dictate Cook’s value and eventual ADP in fantasy circles, but his unique abilities as both a rusher and receiver provide him with instant RB2 appeal. Given his featured back ceiling, it is reasonable to project Cook as a more valuable asset than that of Leonard Fournette in 2017. Both running backs could use improvement in pass-protection, but Cook is the superior passing-down threat at this stage.

In dynasty formats, Cook is a candidate to be selected inside the 1.01 – 1.04 range of rookie drafts. Based on current ADP, he would then be valued in the middle of the second-round in a startup draft. Provided the fact that Cook is only 21-years-old, he figures to be viewed as an elite dynasty asset regardless of his NFL Draft stock or subsequent landing spot. A case for selecting the Florida native over Leonard Fournette could boil down to personal preference, as each possess entirely different traits.

If NFL teams consider Cook’s off-field issues to be a red flag, his fantasy outlook will inevitably be impacted. Medical examinations will also serve a critical role in assessing Cook’s 2017 fantasy price, as he has dealt with hamstring ailments, a torn rotator cuff, multiple labrum tears and three shoulder surgeries dating back to his high school career. Assuming Cook checks out medically, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which he falls out of the first round in April’s NFL Draft. Despite Cook’s kitchen earning mixed reviews to this point, he owns the necessary tools to create a recipe for success in the NFL and fantasy.

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