Many fantasy owners were left cringing by the conclusion of Sunday’s NFL games as a result of an injury-ridden week four. In the middle of the chaos, Dalvin Cook was lost for the season after a non-contact injury against the Detroit Lions, which was confirmed to be a near-complete ACL tear in his left knee. The rookie running back out of Florida State was on pace for over 1,500 rushing yards while averaging almost 24 touches per game. The Minnesota Vikings, and many fantasy owners who drafted Cook late, will certainly miss the rising star. All that bad news aside, just like the NFL season, the fantasy season must go on. Here are some players you could target from Minnesota to patch the holes in your roster.
Coming off ankle surgery this offseason, Latavius Murray signed a 3-year, $15 million deal to tote the rock in Minnesota, but then the Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook. Murray’s recovery took longer than expected and Cook literally ran away with the starting job. With Cook now done for the season, all eyes are on Murray to try to emulate the rushing production the rookie had to start the season. He has stated he is ready to see a full workload, but still may not be quite at full strength.
The immediate game plan for Cook owners is to replace him with the Vikings’ real-life replacement. Murray is presumed to be the immediate starter ahead of Jerick McKinnon and should provide possible scoring upside in the Vikings offense. In relief of Cook, Murray carried the ball 7 times for 21 yards while the Vikings trailed the Detroit Lions by a touchdown. Murray’s fantasy status can surely be helped with the return of Bradford, who can stretch the field throwing to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. With success through the air, Murray should see more running room.
Last season with the Oakland Raiders, Murray carried the ball only 195 times for 788 yards, but scored 12 touchdowns behind a great offensive line. In Minnesota, he is in a similar situation. I would compare his fantasy status to the Patriots’ Mike Gillislee because he will be very touchdown dependent and thrives near the goal line. However, this isn’t the Patriot’s offense and Case Keenum and Sam Bradford are not Tom Brady. There are no 100+ yard games in sight for the fourth-year veteran and he will have to rely on reaching the end zone to please his fantasy owners. He should be the top add in Minnesota this week regardless.
Jerick McKinnon will be the change-of-pace running back that dominates RB targets behind Murray for the time being. Should he find success early on, I believe he will begin to eat away at Murray’s touches in the run game. McKinnon is speedy and elusive and will have success when the Vikings get the ball to him in space. He will be more valuable in PPR leagues until he starts to out-touch Latavius Murray on a week to week basis.
McKinnon may become the more valuable pickup in fantasy leagues because the Vikings love to utilize his skillset with screens and quick pitches. In any passing situation, the Vikings will look to him rather than Murray. Should he develop a hot hand, Murray may start to warm the bench. Cook and McKinnon have combined for 28 catches on the season which proves that throwing to running backs is a valuable part of the game plan in Minnesota.
McKinnon will be a solid PPR addition who also played more snaps than Murray when Cook was healthy. Murray’s job as the starter is not guaranteed, especially if his ankle isn’t fully healed at this point. McKinnon has struggled in the past as a starter but as we all know, it only takes one breakout game to earn a starting role in this league. He is a dangerous runner, a play-maker and as an added bonus, he is also the team’s primary kick returner. He even returned a preseason kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown and isn’t afraid to take the ball out of the end zone. McKinnon has extra value in leagues that award points for return yards and big plays on offense.
Have any comments, questions or concerns? Come talk fantasy football with me on twitter @DJFezler_TFR
Also be sure to follow our site @fantasyreport_ for weekly standard and PPR rankings for your difficult lineup decisions.