Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is a superstar, capable of winning fantasy football matchups almost single-handedly. He is currently on the COVID-19 list, though, and his Week 17 status is uncertain. If he is available, can he be trusted? If he isn’t, how confident should you be starting Alexander Mattison in fantasy?
Dalvin Cook is still an elite fantasy running back
Cook was drafted early in the first round of fantasy drafts with the expectation that he’d be an RB1. With injuries and illness dominating the season, fantasy managers should be relatively satisfied with the return on investment.
Cook is the RB13 in standard scoring but the RB6 in points per game. When he plays, he still performs. Fantasy managers had to find an alternative during the playoffs, which will have been a big disappointment, but it’s all relative. It could be a lot worse with Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, and others missing most of the season.
Cook has still rushed 226 times for 1,067 yards and has caught 30 of his 45 targets for 221 yards. He’s averaging 97 rushing yards per game, the second-highest mark of his career.
The area that Cook has been disappointing is touchdowns. In 2019, he had 13 touchdowns in 14 games. In 2020, he had an incredible 17 touchdowns in 14 games. So far in 2021, he has just 6 touchdowns in 11 games. It’s not that the Vikings are looking elsewhere — they have just 10 rushing touchdowns on the season. Cook just isn’t scoring at the same rate.
Is Dalvin Cook playing this week?
Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said on Monday that he’s hoping Cook will be available to play on Sunday. Make sure to keep checking our COVID-19 tracker for updates.
If Cook cannot play, the Vikings will rely heavily on Mattison, although Kene Nwangwu could also see some opportunities. Nwangwu, a fourth-round pick out of Iowa State, had 5 rushing attempts for 8 yards last week against the Los Angeles Rams. He also caught 2 passes for 5 yards.
Should I start Alexander Mattison this week?
In Cook’s absence, the Vikings turned to Mattison to lead the backfield in Week 16. Mattison rushed 13 times for 41 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 3 of his 4 targets for 29 yards.
It wasn’t a particularly efficient game for Mattison, and optimistic fantasy managers may have hoped for more. Still, it was a solid showing in a week when several higher reputation players were disappointing. Mattison was the RB14 in standard scoring and the RB13 in points per reception (PPR) in Week 16.
Vikings could be in a shootout against the Packers
The Vikings face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The Packers have performed relatively well against running backs this season. They’ve allowed the 12th-fewest fantasy points to the position in standard scoring and the 11th-fewest in PPR.
The Vikings played the Packers in Week 11, defeating their divisional opponents 34-31. Dalvin Cook rushed 22 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. He also added 3 receptions for 29 yards. Mattison was rarely used, rushing just 3 times for 5 yards.
If Cook is active, he’s a must-start. He’ll get the opportunities, and it could be a high-scoring game with MVP candidate Aaron Rodgers on the other side. Mattison becomes an interesting fantasy option with a potentially high workload if Cook can’t suit up.
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