What was looking like a monster rookie season fell short after suffering a torn ACL in week four. It was not only a big blow for fantasy owners at the time but for the Vikings team as well. Dalvin Cook was the second round selection in the 2017 NFL draft with a view to being the team's long-term solution at running back.
Cook quickly made a name for himself in 2017, but a season-ending injury was the only thing in his way from stardom. Now being a full participant in training camp, Cook looks poised for a breakout season in year two.
Why You Should Draft Dalvin Cook
Want to dominate your Fantasy Football Draft? Sign up to use the Fantasy Pros Draft Wizard.
Cook has not gained the respect he deserves when it comes to fantasy football this offseason. When talking about top-10 running backs for fantasy football, I hardly hear the name Dalvin Cook. I get it, he was a rookie that only played in three full games last season but he was one of the most productive running backs during that brief stretch.
Cook is a player that has top-5 upside this fantasy football season. With week one coming up in less than a month, it's time to realize the potential he has for the upcoming fantasy football season.
2017 Rookie Season
The 23-year-old wasted no time putting the league on notice. Cook ran for 127 yards on 22 carries during the week one win against the Saints. Fellow rookie Kareem Hunt was the only player to rush for more yards than Cook during week one. During the three full weeks he played, Cook averaged 88 yards and roughly 20 carries per game.
Only five players averaged more than 80 yards per game and just three players sustained at least 20 carries per game during the 2017 season. He also earned 79 percent of the team running back carries during the first three weeks of the season.
During weeks one and three, Cook finished as an RB1 in fantasy. He finished as a back-end RB3 during week two and even as a high-end RB3 at the time of his injury in Week 4. Before the injury, he was on pace for nearly 300 carries and close to 1,500 rushing yards. Le'Veon Bell was the only player this past season to get 300+ carries. The next closest player to Bell was LeSean McCoy with 287 carries.
Cook would've finished near the top of the list in running back production given what he had produced during the first quarter of the season.
Less Crowded Backfield
Embed from Getty Images
Latavius Murray ended up leading the Vikings in rushing following the loss of Cook. He compiled 842 yards on 216 carries while rushing for eight touchdowns. Another player highly featured in the backfield was Jerick McKinnon. He was more of a pass-catcher with Murray handling the bulk of the carries.
McKinnon had 150 carries for 570 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He also caught 51 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns. As a free agent this offseason, McKinnon signed a four year, $30 million deal with San Francisco. The loss of McKinnon leaves behind 47 percent of the team's snap share from a year ago and this will lead for a larger role for Cook catching passes out of the backfield this season. Besides, Murray has only had two seasons in which he surpassed 200 receiving yards and just one season with more than 250 yards.
The loss of McKinnon can mean a great deal for Cook. It makes him a safe bet to exceed 250 carries and possibly push past 300 as well. To put that into perspective, eight players transcended 250 carries a year ago, with six players getting at least 270 carries.
Vikings Running Game Throughout The Years
Mike Zimmer has been the head coach of the Vikings for four seasons now. In his four-year tenure with the team, his team has placed in the top-10 in rushing attempts twice. The Vikings finished fourth and second in the league respectively in rushing attempts in 2015 and 2017. If you average that out throughout the last four seasons, the Vikings end up ranking in the top-12 in total rushing attempts.
The average PPR finish for the Viking's No. 1 running back throughout the last four years is RB15. The Vikings RB1 has finished in the top-20 in PPR scoring in four of the past six seasons as well. The two seasons when the team failed to support a top-20 running back were in 2013 and 2014.
Adrian Peterson was the only running back to get over 300 carries in a season under Mike Zimmer and that happened during the 2015 season. In that season, he ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns- finishing as the RB2.
There's a lot to like about Cook and the situation he currents sits at in Minnesota. He's currently being taken as the 10th running back off of draft boards and his current price sits at 2.01 in PPR leagues.
Cook appears positioned for a huge workload in a high-powered offense with new quarterback Kirk Cousins under center. The opportunity and volume will certainly be there for the 23-year-old to produce. I expect him to surpass his current ADP for the 2018 season with mid to high-end RB1 numbers.
Visit the F6P Fantasy Football Draft Kit Page for more advice to prepare for the 2018 season.
|2018 Fantasy Football Draft Kit Categories