We can never have nice things. Never. Dalvin Cook appears to have torn his ACL via a non-contact injury Sunday. As vigilant Fantasy & Dynasty owners alike, we are now forced to take a look at the impact this is sure to have on the Minnesota Vikings and their current running back depth chart. Who can we expect to step, now that Cook is lost for the season?
#Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said MIN is concerned that RB Dalvin Cook suffered an ACL injury. He’ll get an MRI, but potentially season-ending
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 1, 2017
It’s hard to imagine how Cooks’ rookie season could have started off any better. His production Sunday was giving us yet another stellar outing as another banner day was in store. At the time of his injury, Cook had accumulated 74 total yards and touchdown through 2 and 1/4 quarters of action. For the season, Cook has racked up 354 rushing yards an additional 90 receiving yards to go along with 2 touchdowns on the year. In a season littered with excellent rookie running backs, Dalvin Cook has been as good as any of them. All the fears of Cook becoming a bust, after displaying a woeful 3-cone performance have dissipated, now that we’ve seen him perform like a RB1 at the pro-level.
You’ve played fantasy long enough to know when one door slams you in the face another one opens. Look to immediately “Buy Low” if you can. Players come back successfully from ACL injuries, almost routinely, in this day and age of the NFL. So, if there’s any bright side to the injury, it would be that it happened so early-on in the season.
As a Cook owner in multiple leagues, I am giving no discount what so ever. None. I don’t care if I’m one player away from a Championship run. Cook will sit on my IR for the rest of the season, and I will start him week 1 come 2018.
Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon
Latavius Murray didn’t have a reception or rushing attempt before Cooks’ injury today. After Cook went down with 10:25 left in the 3rd quarter, Murray saw 2 receptions for 8 yards, on 2 targets. Murray also accounted for 21 yards on 7 carries. Jerick McKinnon ended his day with 2 carries for 0 yards was targeted twice in the passing game with 0 receptions.
Next Man Up?
Murray signed with the Vikings this past off-season for $15 million over 3 years only to see them draft Dalvin Cook a month later in the second round of the NFL Draft. With a 115.8 speed score (96th) per Playerprofiler.com Murray is a big, fast man. His agility score and burst scores are well above average, but he’s not going to create a lot of yards for himself. Although not thought of as a pass catcher he did average 37 receptions during his two starting seasons with Oakland. Entering Sunday, Murray had 0 targets, but as noted above, he was targeted twice after Cook was lost to injury.
Primarily due to 12 rushing touchdowns, Murray was able to finish as a RB1 last season, and at 6’2″ and 220+ pounds there’s no reason to think Murray won’t be the primary goal-line back for the rest of this season. With only 6 touchdowns in 2015, Murray was still able to finish as the RB19 with 12.9 points per game. At the end of the day, Latavius Murray has produced in the league, will be the goal line back and has enough receiving chops to perform like a RB2 the rest of the season.
Drink in those workout metrics. 110th percentile Sparq-X score. I can’t add much to the conversation as it pertains to his physical gifts. His closest comparable player is LaDainian Tomlinson. There’s no question that McKinnon is a physical freak. The question is, can he translate these physical gifts into production on the football field? Still only 25 years old it feels like we’ve been down this road multiple times already with McKinnon. Superstar RB is lost for the season or a significant chunk of the season, and McKinnon has an opportunity to flash.
When Adrian Peterson was suspended for 15 games, McKinnon rushed for 538 yards on 113 carries including two games with over 100 yards rushing. He also chipped in with another 27 receptions for 135 yards. McKinnon scored no touchdowns while his committee mate Matt Asiata scored 9. Last season with Peterson lost to injury McKinnon wasn’t as efficient as his rookie season with 539 on 159 carries for 3.4 yards per carry. His rushing woes can be tied directly back to the Vikings 29th ranked offensive line(ProFootballFocus). McKinnon was a valuable option in the passing game though turning 53 targets into 43 receptions.
You shouldn’t expect McKinnon to get many rushing attempts within the 10-yard line. Per Pro-Football-Reference, he finished 46th in the league with 7 attempts within the 10. In fact, McKinnon doesn’t score many rushing touchdowns at all, as evidence, by only scoring 4 on his first 332 rushing attempts.
The Choice is Yours
McKinnon is the high upside play due to his superior physical metrics and better receiving skills than Murray. Unfortunately, it’s hard to foresee the Vikings coaching staff giving McKinnon the opportunity to take the starting role and produce. More than likely we’re looking at a running back by committee for the rest of 2017, and by all accounts, with Murray as the lead back. McKinnon should pick up additional work in the passing game, enough to make him a viable flex play. Long-term, I still like McKinnon and think he’s worth a 2nd round rookie pick in the hopes he lands with a coaching staff that sees his potential. I’ll be trying to “Sell High” on Murray as soon as he puts up an RB1 week.
Thanks for reading and as always you can find me on Twitter @DFF_Shane.