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Vikings running backs

Cook soon to be gone

A guy that's not getting interest in line with past production in early fantasy drafts is Dalvin Cook. That's understandable, since it's been a foregone conclusion for months that the Vikings are going to get rid of him. Will backup Alexander Mattison (pictured) step in and start putting up good numbers? We'll see.

ESPN's Vikings beat writer Kevin Seifert has a new story about it. He lays out the whole background, including the idea that the main reason Cook hasn't been released is that Minnesota is holding out hope of trading him for something. At some point, however, they'll probably need to give that up and cut him loose.

When they do, it will be Mattison who gets the first crack at the starting job. Mattison has had some big games filling in for Cook in the past, but as we've pointed out here, most of those games were against really bad defenses (including Detroit several times). The larger body of work suggests it's a big step down from Cook to his backup.

We don't do a lot with yards per carry, acknowledging that it's a number that can be largely reliant on offensive line, who's playing quarterback and other factors out of the running back's control. But when you see two backs putting up quite different numbers in the same offense behind the same offensive line, it seems worth mentioning.

The last two seasons, among all running backs with at least 70 carries (there are 120 of them), Cook shows up with two of the 50 best numbers, at 4.7 and 4.4 yards per attempt. Mattison shows up with two of the 25 worst (3.8 and 3.7). None of the running backs who have been worse than Mattison in this regard in each of the last two years are currently in line to be NFL starters in 2023.

RUNNING BACKS, 2021-2022
YearPlayerAttYdsAvgTgtRecYdsTD
2021Rashaad Penny, Sea.1197496.386486
2022Breece Hall, NYJ804635.831192185
2022James Cook, Buff.895075.732211803
2022Khalil Herbert, Chi.1297315.7129575
2022J.K. Dobbins, Balt.925205.787423
2021Tony Pollard, Dall.1307195.546393373
2021Nick Chubb, Cle.22812595.525201749
2021Miles Sanders, Phil.1377545.534261580
2022D'Andre Swift, Det.995425.570483898
2021Jonathan Taylor, Ind.33218115.5514036020
2021D'Ernest Johnson, Cle.1005345.325191373
2022Aaron Jones, G.B.21311215.372593957
2022Tony Pollard, Dall.19310075.2553937112
2022Travis Etienne, Jac.22011255.145353165
2021Chase Edmonds, Ariz.1165925.153433112
2022Nick Chubb, Cle.30215255.0372723913
2022Gus Edwards, Balt.874335.02003
2022Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.21010405.088694216
2021Kareem Hunt, Cle.783865.027221745
2022Tyler Allgeier, Atl.21010354.917161394
2022Raheem Mostert, Mia.1818914.942312025
2022Jaylen Warren, Pitt.773794.933282141
2022Chuba Hubbard, Car.954664.917141712
2022Zack Moss, 2TM934564.91311391
2022Miles Sanders, Phil.25912694.926207811
2022Jeff Wilson, 2TM1768604.937221856
2022Isiah Pacheco, K.C.1708304.914131305
2022Josh Jacobs, L.V.34016534.9645340012
2022Cordarrelle Patterson, Atl.1446954.831211229
2022Caleb Huntley, Atl.763664.82231
2021Jordan Howard, Phil.864064.752193
2021James Robinson, Jac.1647674.746312228
2021Aaron Jones, G.B.1717994.7655239110
2022Christian McCaffrey, 2TM24411394.71088574113
2021Dalvin Cook, Min.24911594.749342246
2021Elijah Mitchell, S.F.2079634.720191376
2021Duke Johnson, Mia.713304.754413
2021Devin Singletary, Buff.1888704.650402288
2022Devin Singletary, Buff.1778194.652382806
2021Darrell Henderson, LAR1496884.640291768
2022Kenneth Walker, Sea.22810504.635271659
2021Damien Harris, N.E.2029294.6211813215
2021Rhamondre Stevenson, N.E.1336064.618141235
2021Melvin Gordon, Den.2039184.5382821310
2021Leonard Fournette, T.B.1808124.5846945410
2022D'Onta Foreman, Car.2039144.595265
2022Austin Ekeler, LAC2049154.512710772218
2022Jonathan Taylor, Ind.1928614.540281434
2021Christian McCaffrey, Car.994424.541373432
2021Javonte Williams, Den.2039034.553433167
2022Saquon Barkley, NYG29513124.4765733810
2022Latavius Murray, 2TM1717604.435271326
2022Dalvin Cook, Min.26411734.4563929510
2022Kenyan Drake, Balt.1094824.42617895
2021Austin Ekeler, LAC2069114.4947064720
2022Derrick Henry, Ten.34915384.4413339813
2022Damien Harris, N.E.1064624.42317973
2021Michael Carter, NYJ1476394.455363254
2021Clyde Edwards-Helaire, K.C.1195174.323191296
2021Devonta Freeman, Balt.1335764.342341906
2021AJ Dillon, G.B.1878034.337343137
2021Boston Scott, Phil.873734.31613837
2021Derrick Henry, Ten.2199374.3201815410
2022James Conner, Ari.1837824.358463008
2022Dameon Pierce, Hou.2209394.339301655
2021D'Onta Foreman, Ten.1335664.31191233
2022Clyde Edwards-Helaire, K.C.713024.323171516
2021Ronald Jones, T.B.1014284.21310644
2021Tevin Coleman, NYJ843564.21611490
2021Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.23710024.2654728712
2021Latavius Murray, Balt.1195014.21310756
2021Khalil Herbert, Chi.1034334.21614962
2022Cam Akers, LAR1887864.218131177
2022Samaje Perine, Cin.953944.151382876
2022AJ Dillon, G.B.1867704.143282067
2021Joe Mixon, Cin.29212054.1484231416
2021D'Andre Swift, Det.1516174.178624527
2021Devontae Booker, NYG1455934.145402683
2022Jamaal Williams, Det.26210664.116127317
2022Eno Benjamin, 3TM773134.134251932
2021Sony Michel, LAR2088454.133211285
2022Darrell Henderson, LAR702834.022171023
2022Jerick McKinnon, K.C.722914.0715651210
2021Cordarrelle Patterson, Atl.1536184.0695254811
2022Alvin Kamara, N.O.2238974.077574904
2021Antonio Gibson, Was.25810374.0524229410
2021Josh Jacobs, L.V.2178724.064543489
2022David Montgomery, Chi.2018014.040343166
2021Jamaal Williams, Det.1536013.928261573
2021Najee Harris, Pitt.30712003.9947446710
2022Brian Robinson, Was.2057973.9129603
2021Darrel Williams, K.C.1445583.957474528
2022Joe Mixon, Cin.2108143.975604419
2022James Robinson, 2TM1104253.91411515
2022Alexander Mattison, Min.742833.81815916
2021Alex Collins, Sea.1084113.8109872
2022Kareem Hunt, Cle.1234683.844352104
2022Najee Harris, Pitt.27210343.8534122910
2022Ezekiel Elliott, Dall.2318763.823179212
2021David Montgomery, Chi.2258493.851423017
2021Alvin Kamara, N.O.2408983.767474399
2022Rachaad White, T.B.1294813.758502903
2021James Conner, Ariz.2027523.7393737518
2021Jeff Wilson, S.F.792943.787312
2022Antonio Gibson, Was.1495463.758463535
2021Saquon Barkley, NYG1625933.757412634
2021Alexander Mattison, Min.1344913.739322284
2021Mike Davis, Atl.1385033.658442594
2021Zack Moss, Buff.963453.632231975
2021Chuba Hubbard, Car.1726123.637251746
2021Myles Gaskin, Mia.1736123.563492347
2022Leonard Fournette, T.B.1896683.583735236
2022Melvin Gordon, Den.903183.532252232
2022Zonovan Knight, NYJ853003.514131001
2022Michael Carter, NYJ1144023.554412883
2021Carlos Hyde, Jac.722533.52112651
2021Rex Burkhead, Hou.1224273.532251863
2021Mark Ingram, 2TM1605543.535271622
2021Phillip Lindsay, 2TM882492.854452

Although it's widely believed that Cook won't be on Minnesota's roster this season, Mattison isn't getting a lot of love in early fantasy drafts. Looking at the ADP numbers at fantasypros.com, Mattison is currently 33rd among running backs, down near a lot of committee types. Cook is 16th -- good, but he was a top-10 back just last season.

Mattison is likely to be an NFL starter in Week 1, and once Cook is actually released, Mattison's ADP will rise. But I doubt I'll be selecting him anywhere. Seems unlikely he'll be productive; better to throw a last-round pick at one of young backups, either Ty Chandler, returner Kene Nwangwu, or seventh-round rookie DeWayne McBride. Those are the guys to monitor in the preseason; see if one can make a run at the job if Mattison disappoints.

--Andy Richardson

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