Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook missed Week 16 while on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He’s still dealing with an illness, but Minnesota is playing for the playoffs in a matchup against the division rival Green Bay Packers. Will Cook play this weekend, and what can fantasy football managers expect from the workhorse in Week 17?
Update 01/02/22: Dalvin Cook is officially active for the game tonight against the Packers.
Dalvin Cook’s 2021 production
Cook has struggled to stay on the field for Minnesota throughout the season, as he’s only played in 11 games thus far. With that being said, he’s been an elite option when available.
He boasts 1,067 yards and 6 touchdowns on 226 carries in 2021. He’s added 30 receptions for 221 yards on 45 targets through the air.
Cook’s role has been somewhat inconsistent throughout the season, but he was acting as a true workhorse before being placed on the COVID list. He recorded 25+ touches in four of his last five games. Over that span, Cook averaged 129.8 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on 25.2 touches per game.
He posted his best game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14, recording 205 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground.
Will Cook play vs. the Packers in Week 17?
Cook missed an important game against the Los Angeles Rams last week after being placed on the COVID list. He returned to a limited practice on Wednesday with his health issue being listed as an illness.
Ultimately, Cook likely recorded a limited practice on Wednesday due to conditioning issues after being away from the team for so long.
He returned to full practices on Thursday and Friday, and Cook should return to his normal workhorse role against Green Bay this week.
How will Cook’s availability affect the Vikings’ offense?
The offense will completely run through Cook this week. Prior to his injury, he was consistently seeing 20+ touches, and that’s likely to be the case again against the Packers.
Additionally, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins has been ruled out this week. Sean Mannion will draw the start, which will only be the third of his career. In his first two starts, he totaled only 295 yards without any touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Mannion isn’t the type of player that can slide in and produce at a high level in the NFL. Instead, he should consistently be handing the ball off to Cook, allowing the RB to handle the workload against Green Bay’s susceptible run defense.
Are fantasy points available vs. Green Bay?
This is one of the more interesting matchups, as fantasy points are available against Green Bay’s defense. With that being said, they’re only allowing 16.6 fantasy points per game to running backs. This ranks 23rd in the NFL.
Cook totaled 115 yards and 1 touchdown on 22 carries against the Packers earlier this season. Green Bay has further struggled in recent games.
The Packers allowed Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson to combine for 250 yards and 1 touchdown last week. Latavius Murray averaged 6.9 yards per carry against them the week prior.
Although Green Bay has found success against running backs at various times this season, Cook should see plenty of opportunities to produce. He’s an elite option, and he can safely be used as an RB1 this week.