by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Dalvin Cook looked like a fantasy superstar, totaling 444 yards (354 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards) over his first four games in the NFL. However a torn ACL prematurely ended his season and while he appears to be healthy heading into 2018 there’s a chance he settles into a timeshare in Minnesota’s backfield.
According to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press (click here for the article):
Cook and Murray could split a good bit of the rushing load this season. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said it’s too early to discuss how carries will be divided, but “they’ll both be factors.”
That’s going to be a disappointing development for fantasy owners, as they hoped Cook would immediately return to being the dominant force in the backfield. It makes sense for the team to slowly work him back in, at the very least, but Latavius Murray showed enough in the second half of the season to allow him to maintain a significant role.
Limited early as he recovered from ankle surgery, Murray averaged 4.3 yards/carry over the final 8 games racking up 593 yards and 7 TD. He’s not the receiving force of Cook, but he’s bigger (6’3” and 230 lbs.) and should operate as the short yardage/goal line option while Cook is the pass catching specialist.
With the two sharing time on early downs, they’ll each have their niche in specific situations and could get 12-15 touches each week (it’s possible that Cook gets 18-20 with Murray closer to 10, but it could change weekly). That said, when looking at their current ADP you wouldn’t know that both backs are going to play a large role:
- Dalvin Cook – 12.2
- Latavius Murray – 152.4
Obviously Cook is the preferred back, especially in PPR formats, but he’s going to lose touches overall and should see some TD vultured away. That’s going to limit his overall production and makes it impossible to trust him as a borderline first round option.
From a fantasy perspective the bottom line is:
- Target Cook, but only if his ADP starts to fall. Otherwise look towards “safer” early RB options like Melvin Gordon (10.4) or Christian McCaffrey (18.0).
- Murray is not going to be a starting fantasy RB, but as a late round play to fill out your squad the upside is obvious and he’s well worth owning.
Sources – ESPN, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 preseason rankings: