Bills Mafia Debating Which Running Back Will Have Bigger Role
The start of 2022 training camp across the NFL in just over three weeks. The Buffalo Bills will be returning to the campus of St. John Fisher in Pittsford, NY for the first time since 2019.
As a favorite to win the Super Bowl, the Bills roster is loaded with talent at every position. Wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, defensive line and cornerback will all see some position battles for at least a reserve role.
Running back is another intriguing position for the Bills in 2022.
They have fourth-year back Devin Singletary, third-year back Zack Moss, veteran free agent signing Duke Johnson and rookie second rounder, James Cook.
If you ask most fans and NFL analysts who will be the top two featured backs, it's Singletary and Cook. This week, I've noticed quite a few Bills fans on Twitter debate who has the bigger season, both in touches and fantasy, Cook or Singletary?
Singletary split time with Moss for much of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, but the last five weeks of the 2021 season saw Singletary take a majority of the snaps, after Moss failed to break a run to the outside for what looked to be a sure touchdown against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football last December.
Not counting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, which saw the Bills forced to pass exclusively after falling behind big, early on; Singletary averaged 19 carries in the final four weeks of the season for well over 4 yards per carry, with 10 total targets.
He also had 20 total touches and two touchdowns against the Patriots in the Wild Card win in Orchard Park.
Singletary finished the 2021 season with 870 rushing yards with a 4.6 ypc and 40 catches with eight total touchdowns. Nearly 1,100 total yards from scrimmage.
Despite the strong finish to the season, many believe Cook will challenge for not only more catches, but touches overall.
Cook was arguably the best pass-catching RB in the 2022 NFL Draft (Rachaad White was the only RB who challenged for that distinction). There's no doubt that Cook will be used as a defacto wide receiver for Buffalo in year one; and general manager Brandon Beane said as much after drafting him.
The Bills tried to sign Washington's JD McKissic, which ended up being a messy situation after McKissic backed out of a contract agreement to re-sign with the Commanders. The Bills showed their hand -- they wanted a pass-catching RB.
So, who gets more share of the RB load in 2022?
Cook is the better athlete. He's faster than Singletary and a better pass catcher. I don't think many Bills fans would argue that. However, Singletary is thicker than Cook and is build is better suited to run between the tackles on a more consistent basis. He's also shifty and one of the quickest at change-of-direction on the Bills (maybe period).
Cook saw the biggest workload his final year at Georgia, carrying the ball 113 times in 15 games and catching 27 passes. His explosiveness should be a mismatch for linebackers and safeties at the next level.
However, the Bills have a ton of weapons to utilize this season.
Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah McKenzie, Dawson Knox and O.J. Howard will all see targets; and we haven't even brought up rookie wide receiver Khalil Shakir, who the Bills traded up for in the fifth round.
Josh Allen doesn't lock in on running back targets, either. I think Cook gets a fair share of targets in 2022, but more carries? That is Singletary's job to lose to me.
The Bills will want to have the luxury of both backs at the ready to use a fresh piece to create mismatches, especially Cook.
There is the chance Cook is so impressive in the preseason and early in the season, the Bills put him on the field more than Singletary, but Singletary is a favorite of head coach Sean McDermott and he will be asked to do more in short yardage and goalline situations.
After 2022, I think Cook becomes the RB1. The Bills have not shown they like giving running backs second contracts, so this could be a two-back system with Singletary getting more carries but less catches than Cook, but the job is Cook's in 2023.
Fantasy might be a different story, since PPR leagues will likely favor Cook and the big play potential and touchdowns.
Who do you think gets more touches in 2022? Devin Singletary or James Cook?