From a real-life football perspective, the NY Jets signing Dalvin Cook is one of the best moves they could've made this late into the offseason. If you've already drafted your fantasy football team and have either Breece Hall or Cook on your team, you may feel like this is one of the worst moves that could've happened to your fantasy season.
But allow me to turn your frown upside down! It is inarguable that this does decrease the fantasy value of both players, but the good news is we now live in an era where some teams are able to produce multiple fantasy-relevant running backs in the same season.
However, if you drafted any other Jets' running back, then my sincere condolences. Barring an injury to Hall or Cook, all three backs remaining backs (Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight, and Israel Abanikanda) are completely off the fantasy radar.
If you look at the top 30 running backs in scoring last year, you'll see three different pairs of teammates. If you look closer, you'll see that the highest-ranking pair of running back teammates last year was Aaron Jones (9) and A.J. Dillon (25). This should bring you great joy because those were Aaron Rodgers' running backs last year.
Despite all of Rodgers' wondrous career achievements and accolades, a 39-year-old quarterback is still a 39-year-old quarterback. He will need the help of his running backs to manage the load and keep his arm loose throughout his Jets tenure long-term.
Adding a player who has made the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons to a running back room that already had a player with sky-high potential like Breece Hall gives them the best duo in the league. If Jones and Dillon were able to be in the top 25 in fantasy, can Hall and Cook both enter the top 20? That's certainly possible.
There will be lots of touches for them in this offense, both in the running game (obviously) and the passing game, where Rodgers' backs combined for 87 catches on 115 targets last year.
They also figure to run the ball more than Jones and Dillon did last year, as the Jets are predicted to be in the lead more often this year than the 8-9 Packers were last year.
The only real question is, who will be the Jones, and who will be the Dillon in this Jets' fantasy backfield?
Who will finish as fantasy RB1 for the NY Jets?
I think there are sound arguments that can be made for either of these backs finishing as the team's fantasy RB1 this season. Cook is the veteran who Rodgers has had an affinity with for several years. He also figures to be the healthier option come Week 1 as Hall returns to form after tearing his ACL.
Cook is also in the midst of a decorated run. He has made the Pro Bowl in four consecutive seasons, with over 1,100 rushing yards per season during that time. From a fantasy perspective, he has averaged 17.25 points per game during that same four-season span.
The fact that his efficiency numbers took a huge dip last year may be an indicator that the 28-year-old is losing a step, but the bottom-tier play of his offensive line certainly played a role in his production as well.
In fact, his line has performed worse each of the last three years, as has he, so perhaps if the Jets' line can be an upgrade this year, we will see an uptick in Cook's efficiency in a bounce-back year.
But of course, Hall is the younger, faster, much more explosive back — especially at this point in their careers. Hall is also the more talented pass-catcher, so when they are both at full strength, it's very easy to see a scenario where Hall plays more snaps than Cook.
The NFL is very much a results-driven league. so even if Cook starts off well (just as Michael Carter did last year), it's very possible Hall just asserts himself atop that depth chart all over again.
Lastly, wear and tear is a big factor. The Jets invested a second-round pick in Hall and very much see him as their future. With Cook as a one-year rental, there is no incentive from the organization to be 'cautious' with Cook's usage.
Whereas with Hall, they may be hesitant to give Hall so many touches because of his high usage in college and what happened last year when they gave him a similar workload.
Why not squeeze every last ounce of Cook's contract and keep him out there if his efficiency bounces back? Based on where the chips are falling, it may be Cook's job to lose. It's a close enough battle that you should feel comfortable picking either one of these players as long as it's outside of the top two rounds (of 12 or more team leagues).
To get a top-20 running back in the third round or later is a nice grab, and there is plenty of data that suggests both of them will be on that list.
My heart says it will be Hall who finishes as RB1, but please don't be surprised if it's Cook who ends atop the fantasy RB scorers for the Jets, especially since he will be used as a full participant from Week 1.