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Vikings release Mattison

Will Chandler take over?

The Vikings released Alexander Mattison yesterday, a move that is anything but surprising. As both a backup and a starter across the past three seasons, he's been one of the league's most ineffective running backs. Minnesota seems to have a better one on the roster in Ty Chandler (pictured).

Over the past three years, 46 different running backs have averaged at least 100 rushing attempts. Mattison has more carries than about a third of those backs, but fewer rushing yards per game than all of them. Understandable that while backing up Dalvin Cook for two years he'd be behind players who were regular starters all those seasons. But Mattison's 30.1 rushing yards per game are also behind a lot of players who didn't start more than a handful of games in any of those seasons, guys like Kareem Hunt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Zack Moss and AJ Dillon.

The below table, sorted by rushing yards per game, was compiled using the search tools at pro-football-reference.com.

RBS AVERAGING 100 CARRIES, 2021-2023
PlayerAttYdsAvgTDY/G
Jonathan Taylor69334134.92989.8
Nick Chubb55829545.32089.5
Derrick Henry84836424.33588.8
Christian McCaffrey61530404.92376.0
Josh Jacobs79033304.22774.0
Saquon Barkley70428674.11866.7
Kenneth Walker III44719554.41765.2
Joe Mixon75930534.02965.0
Najee Harris83432693.92264.1
James Conner59325744.32962.8
Travis Etienne48721334.41662.7
David Montgomery64526654.12562.0
Alvin Kamara64324893.91160.7
Breece Hall30314574.8960.7
Raheem Mostert39219234.92160.1
Aaron Jones52625764.9859.9
Tony Pollard57527314.71756.9
Isiah Pacheco37517654.71256.9
Brian Robinson Jr.38315304.0756.7
Dalvin Cook58025464.41456.6
Elijah Mitchell32715234.7956.4
Rhamondre Stevenson49922654.51455.2
Miles Sanders52524554.71254.6
D'Onta Foreman44519054.31254.4
Austin Ekeler58924544.23052.2
Tyler Allgeier39617184.3752.1
Devin Singletary58125874.51651.7
Ezekiel Elliott65225203.92551.4
D'Andre Swift47922084.61551.3
Javonte Williams46718814.0750.8
Dameon Pierce36513553.7650.2
James Cook32616295.0449.4
Leonard Fournette38115204.01147.5
Damien Harris33114854.51946.4
Jamaal Williams52119733.82145.9
AJ Dillon55121864.01444.6
Melvin Gordon31913174.11143.9
Rachaad White40114713.7743.3
Khalil Herbert36417754.9842.3
Chuba Hubbard50519803.91240.4
Zack Moss37215954.31039.9
Antonio Gibson47218483.91139.3
Latavius Murray36915614.21636.3
Cordarrelle Patterson34714944.31434.7
Kareem Hunt33612653.81731.6
Alexander Mattison38814743.8830.1

Strictly among 2023 running backs, Mattison was also ineffective, averaging just 3.9 yards per attempt. Yards per carry isn't all on running backs, but it's notable in that the other back with 100-plus attempts on his own team, Chandler, averaged more than half a yard per attempt better (4.5). There were 49 running backs with at least 100 carries last year. Only 14 averaged a lower yards per attempt than Mattison, while only 15 averaged a higher yards per attempt than Chandler.

2023 RUSHING (100-PLUS ATTEMPTS)
PlayerAttYdsAvgTD
De'Von Achane1038007.88
Christian McCaffrey27214595.414
Jaylen Warren1497845.34
Jahmyr Gibbs1829455.210
Kyren Williams22811445.012
James Conner20810405.07
Raheem Mostert20910124.818
James Cook23711224.72
David Montgomery21910154.613
Isiah Pacheco2059354.67
D'Andre Swift22910494.65
Aaron Jones1426564.62
Bijan Robinson2149764.64
Khalil Herbert1326114.62
Breece Hall2239944.55
Ty Chandler1024614.53
Tyjae Spears1004534.52
Jonathan Taylor1697414.47
Zack Moss1837944.35
Zach Charbonnet1084624.31
Zamir White1044514.31
Derrick Henry28011674.212
Devin Singletary2168984.24
Najee Harris25510354.18
Kenneth Walker III2199054.18
Brian Robinson Jr.1787334.15
Gus Edwards1988104.113
Joe Mixon25710344.09
Tony Pollard25210054.06
Rhamondre Stevenson1566194.04
Jerome Ford2048134.04
Saquon Barkley2479623.96
Alvin Kamara1806943.95
D'Onta Foreman1094253.94
Alexander Mattison1807003.90
Travis Etienne26710083.811
Chuba Hubbard2389023.85
Joshua Kelley1074053.82
Tyler Allgeier1866833.74
Rachaad White2729903.66
Javonte Williams2177743.63
Josh Jacobs2338053.56
Austin Ekeler1796283.55
Ezekiel Elliott1846423.53
AJ Dillon1786133.42
Miles Sanders1294323.31
Kareem Hunt1354113.09
Dameon Pierce1454162.92
Jamaal Williams1063062.91

So the question is whether we should all be taking fliers on Chandler as Minnesota's potential starter. The 2022 fifth-rounder was a lot better than Mattison the second half of last year. He averaged 82 total yards and 13.2 PPR points in the four games he started, compared to 61 yards and 7.1 PPR points for Mattison. So maybe.

But the Vikings went 1-6 down the stretch, with Chandler going over 100 total yards in games at Denver and Cincinnati, but finishing under 50 yards four times (New Orleans, Chicago, Las Vegas and Detroit). I'm not sure Minnesota will look at much of what happened the second half of last season and say they want to build on that.

To me, Chandler looks like a possibility to emerge as the starter, but Minnesota will definitely be adding to the position. My guess right now is that Mattison being released is less full confidence in Chandler than it is a statement on Mattison's NFL future. Chandler is maybe a late-round flier, but no one should be counting on him being the team's lead back just yet.

--Andy Richardson

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