Dalvin Cook Dynasty Profile 2022: What’s his future as the list of injuries continues to mount?

What is Minnesota Vikings RB Dalvin Cook’s dynasty outlook, and how should fantasy managers value him for 2022 and beyond?

Dalvin Cook is at a pivotal point in his career entering the 2022 season, creating decisions for dynasty managers. Cook remains a three-down back, but he’s getting older and is coming off a down season after battling multiple injuries. How should dynasty fantasy football managers value Cook going forward?

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Dalvin Cook’s dynasty profile for 2022

Cook has been considered an elite dynasty asset for a few years now. His rookie season was cut short due to a torn ACL after just four games. Cook’s second season in 2018 was good, not great. He averaged 14.2 PPR fantasy points per game. 2019 is when Cook established himself as an elite fantasy running back.

In 2019, Cook finished as the overall RB2 (minimum eight games played), averaging 21.2 ppg. He followed that up with another — but better — RB2 finish in 2020, averaging 24.1 ppg. Heading into 2021, Cook was widely considered a top-three dynasty running back. He still finished as an RB1, but just barely. His ppg dropped considerably to 16, and he regressed across the board.

Cook posted career-lows in targets per game (3.7), yards per reception (6.6), and yards per touch (4.9). However, the real reason for Cook’s precipitous decline in fantasy performance was touchdowns. Cook scored 13 times in 2019 and 17 times in 2020. He played just one fewer game in 2021 yet scored a total of 6 touchdowns.

What does this all mean for Cook’s dynasty value in 2022? How should fantasy managers value him for this year and going forward?

Fantasy projection for Cook

In researching Cook’s 2021 performance, the thing that stood out most was the touchdown variance. We know touchdowns are difficult to project, but there are underlying signs we can utilize. For example, Cook led all running backs in red-zone touches in 2020 with 66. That number dropped to 47 in 2021. Cook had just 7 goal-line carries last season compared to 20 the year before. The question we need to try and answer as fantasy managers is why Cook’s red-zone and goal-line usage dipped.

The truth is none of us know for sure what the Vikings’ coaches are thinking when it comes to their red-zone running back usage. All we can do is work with the information we have. My data-based conclusion is that Cook’s lack of scoring stemmed from his injury struggles.

Cook’s injury history

Cook has never been the pinnacle of health. Outside of his rookie year, he’s never missed more than half a season, but he’s also never played a full season. Cook has been an NFL player for 81 regular-season games. He’s played in 56 of them. Again, 12 of those missed games occurred due to a rookie year torn ACL. But he’s still missed another 13 games.

Cook’s injuries have been recurring and concerning. He’s missed games due to a strained hamstring, strained groin, sprained ankle, torn labrum, dislocated shoulder, and sprains in both shoulders. All of these injuries are the type that can linger, and shoulder injuries specifically have an increased likelihood of recurring each time they happen.

Despite Cook’s struggles with health, the Vikings have never scaled back his role. It doesn’t matter how well Alexander Mattison plays. When Cook is on the field, he is the lead back, and Mattison is a pure backup. I don’t expect that to change, but it’s fair to wonder if the Vikings won’t use Mattison a little more in short-yardage and goal-line situations where running backs take the most punishment to try and keep Cook healthy.

What is Cook’s future beyond 2022?

Cook’s long-term future is one of the safest amongst the older running backs. He’s signed through his age-30 season. Given his playing style and the beating he’s taken over the years, I don’t expect Cook to be the type of running back that is effective into his 30s.

Cook is entering his age-27 campaign. He remains one of the top running backs in fantasy football. I think he can stay there for another couple of years. The final year of his current deal is 2025. I would be surprised if Cook were still a fantasy-relevant running back beyond the 2024 season.

What can fantasy managers expect from Cook?

Fantasy managers can safely project two more years of high-level production. There’s a decent chance he gives us three. At the running back position, that’s not something to worry about. It’s hard to project anyone other than a handful of elite young guys to be effective at a high level beyond a 3-4 year window.

Whereas with some older running backs, a decrease in ppg may be a harbinger of a continued decline, I don’t see that being the case for Cook. A return to the 20-ppg level is a realistic outcome.

Dynasty managers preparing to chase a championship this season should hang onto Cook. Those without him should explore trading for him. Use the points about his health concerns and him getting up there in age to try and pry him away from a manager who may be wary of Cook’s long-term prospects.

Cook will never be a top-five dynasty running back again due to his age, but he can still produce a singular top-five season. Consider Cook more of a mid RB1 for 2022 and 2023.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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