by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Minnesota Vikings’ new running back duo took advantage of the Atlanta Falcons poor run defense last week as Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon combined for 213 yards and 3 TD. Statistically the Packers have also been bad, giving up the fourth most fantasy points to opposing running backs over the first four weeks. However, it’s not as easy as setting either of these two into your lineup tonight and forgetting about it.
Remember, the Packers had been struggling offensively. In their two loses they combined to score 23 points, something that is atypical for them, and the game against the Jets came down to the fourth quarter. That allowed teams to continue running the football against them. Would it really be surprising if they broke out to a big lead early tonight, forcing Minnesota to go a little heavier in the passing game in order to keep up?
That said, let’s take a look at each running back to determine if they are worth starting in Week 5:
He’s the goal line back and is coming off a 3 TD game, but that’s about all he has going for him. Just look at his lines over the past three weeks:
- Week 2 – 13 carries for 36 yards (2.8 YPC)
- Week 3 – 12 carries for 35 yards (2.9 YPC)
- Week 4 – 20 carries for 78 yards (3.9 YPC)
Keep in mind, Atlanta is allowing 4.5 YPC to opposing running backs on the season yet Asiata still couldn’t average 4.0 YPC. In fact, his longest run this season is a mere 12 yards and last week was his first rushing TD of the season.
On the season there are 25 running backs with at least 45 carries. The only other back to have failed to break a run of at least 15 yards? Darren McFadden… That’s not elite company, to say the least.
Asiata is going to continue to get the goal line opportunities, but he’s dependent on volume and TD. Can we say for sure that he’s a lock to get either? I’d consider him a risky RB2 heading into tonight putting him along the lines of a Chris Ivory or Ahmad Bradshaw. Those are decent options, but they are hardly must play guys.
Fantasy owners have been waiting for him to get his opportunity and he delivered, carrying the ball 18 times for 135 yards in Week 4. Even if you take out his 55 yard run, he averaged 4.7 yards on his other 17 carries.
The question is going to be if the Vikings trust him in pass protection enough to play him should they fall behind early. It’s an unknown, though coming out of last week’s game head coach Mike Zimmer was quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as saying (click here for the full article):
“I think he’s a change-of-pace back for us,” Zimmer said. “We’ll worry about next year [then]. I hope we can continue to grow his role but I don’t think he’s going to be an every-down player right now.”
It doesn’t sound like they have that faith, yet, and it’s a concern when setting lineups for tonight. The explosiveness is there and he proved last week that he can accumulate numbers, but if the Vikings fall behind there’s no guarantee he’s going to be on the field.
That risk, this early in the week, keeps him as more of a FLEX option, but someone I’d trust more than a Donald Brown or C.J. Spiller or Joique Bell.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com, Minneapolis Star Tribune
Make sure to check out all of our Week 5 rankings: