In 2017, the Vikings had the NFL’s 7th ranked rushing attack. Most of this success came without the services of Dalvin Cook, following his ACL tear in Week 4. Coming into 2018, all pundits, writers, fantasy owners, and probably the Vikings themselves thought this was something that would be good again, or even improve upon Dalvin’s return. However, with the exception of this previous week’s performance vs. Arizona, that has been far from the case.
Entering Week 7, the Vikings are averaging a horrendous 87.3 rushing yards/game, 28th in the NFL. When they acquired Kirk Cousins, seemingly pairing him with a strong running game was his missing piece. Not having a strong running game to go to as a tone setter in the 1st quarter has been an enormous issue. So what are the values of Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray?
It’s very feasible that Cook’s hamstring injury could nag for the duration of the 2018 campaign, which makes it even more feasible that him and Murray have a more even split of touches than what was originally anticipated. It’s also possible Cook makes his living catching passes, at least as far as fantasy output goes, not that it solves the issues of having an incompetent rushing attack thus far. However, that can’t be all put in Cook. Statistically, he’s been one of the league’s best at making people miss. While it’s a good showing of his strong set of skills, it’s also an indicator of just how poor the offensive line has been, which has also struggled to consistently protect Kirk Cousins.
One thing that also needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that C.J. Ham, Roc Thomas, and Mike Boone are all being kept on the roster. All three have had their share of touches, and Ham was lined up in the backfield on Cousins’ touchdown run against Arizona. It’s entirely possible that this was done by Mike Zimmer already having an idea that Cook may struggle with his health this season. For someone taken so high in fantasy drafts prior to the season, many owners of Cook (myself included) can’t be to happy about this.
Simply put, no Vikings running back is a weekly top choice to start on your team. There are too many questions about how far the offensive line has regressed from a season ago, and too many touches going around to all the backs on the roster. The Vikings also have become so pass-heavy that they will likely have more games where they don’t run the ball 20 times. Getting to that threshold each week could result in more wins, but not translate to points for fantasy teams. Thus, be mindful about starting Cook or Murray each week, as long as the current trend doesn’t go in an upward direction.