Dalvin Cook Fantasy
What kind of fantasy value will Dalvin Cook have in Minnesota? The Vikings selected him in the second round of the NFL draft with the ninth pick. The narrative around Cook is that he is a first round talent that fell to the second round due to his off the field issues which unfortunately date back to high school. This article will share five things you should know about Cook as you head into fantasy football drafts this summer.
The Game Film Never Lies
Cook flourished in Florida State’s pro-style offense that included power running and zone elements. He has a compact frame, very good play speed, agility and adequate vision. Cook’s opportunities revolve around pass protection, ball security and as a receiver out of the backfield.
The game film tells one story, and collegiate production tells another. RotoViz’s Box Score Scout can help you find players similar to Cook and see how their careers progressed. The subject player is listed first followed by 11 closest comparable players, in descending order of similarity. The biggest takeaway from analyzing Cook is that he has a few high-ceiling comparisons with numerous busts.
Cook also scored in the bottom 15% of the SPARQ metric. SPARQ was created in 2004 as a standardized test for athleticism. It is an acronym for speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness.
Chris Tomasson, of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, wrote an article that mentioned Cook has drawn rave reviews from the Vikings coaching staff regarding his pass protection and acting as a receiver out of the backfield. These would all be encouraging signs if the Vikings had not recently signed Latavius Murray.
Murray and Jerick McKinnon are still on the Vikings roster.
Murray, who is still recovering from ankle surgery, was signed during free agency to a 3-year contract worth $15 million, according to Spotrac, with $3.4 million fully guaranteed at signing. McKinnon is entering the final year of a 4-year contract before becoming a free agent in 2018. The NFL is a business and many decisions are driven by money. Cook is the Vikings future at the running back position, but Murray is not being compensated for sitting on the bench and McKinnon was handling all of the first team reps.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune mentioned that the Vikings plan to establish a running back by committee. What role will Cook play in that rotation? His inability to pass protect and consistently catch the football out of the backfield limits Cook’s opportunities. Murray has not been utilized as a workhorse over the last two seasons. In 2016 he played 47 percent of the Raiders offensive snaps being targeted or touching the football on only 45 percent of those 525 snaps. In 2015 Murray played 64 percent of the Raiders offensive snaps being targeted or touching the football on only 45 percent of those 683 snaps. I anticipate Murray handling a high percentage of the early down and goal line
McKinnon has shown success as a receiver out of the backfield. Last season he caught 81 percent of his 53 targets averaging 5.9 yards per reception. McKinnon’s ability as a receiver in the passing game will allow him to earn offensive snaps and as a result limit opportunities for Cook.
Cook’s Injury History and Character Issues
Can Cook endure the physicality of the NFL defenses? Will he stay out of trouble long enough to produce for fantasy owners?
Cook has had three shoulder surgeries since high school. He tore his rotator cuff, the front part of his labrum, and the back part of his labrum. Cook has also had recurring aggravations of his hamstrings. He also has character issues, as a result, numerous encounters with law enforcement that include robbery and battery.
The biggest concern from a fantasy perspective is around Cook’s durability. He doesn’t have the profile of a bell cow running back and will not be used as one during his rookie season. Cook is best deployed as part of a committee.
The Minnesota Vikings Offense
The team spent nearly $14 million in cap space on offensive tackles, signed Murray and leveraged six draft picks to acquire another offensive lineman and Cook.
The Vikings’ top five offensive linemen according to snaps played in 2016 were TJ Clemmings, Alex Boone, Joe Berger, Brandon Fusco, and Jeremiah Sirles. Berger was the only one that ranked in the top 25 according to the Pro Football Focus run blocking ratings.
The Vikings had a total of 173 offensive drives in 2016 which resulted in 1.64 points per drive. This ranked 23rd amongst all NFL teams last season. Only 29 percent of those drives made it to the red zone and 53 percent of those resulted in a touchdown.
A high number of snaps played and a viable offense are key ingredients to consistent fantasy production. The Vikings offense, now led by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, has added numerous skill position players this offseason through free agency and the NFL draft. Success or failure on offense is still tied to the Vikings starting quarterback Sam Bradford. A crowded backfield, a mediocre offensive line, and quarterback are not ideal ingredients for a fantasy feast for Cook in 2017.
Cook’s Average Draft Position
ADP (Average Draft Position) is not the end all be all, but it does provide line of sight of where players are being drafted. According to Fantasy Football Calculator Cook is RB35. Here is visual on how his ADP compares with Murray.
Cook is being drafted anywhere from the seventh to ninth round in 12-team PPR (Points Per Reception) fantasy leagues. Hope is not a winning fantasy football strategy. There are other running backs that I would rather draft in the seventh round including Paul Perkins, Danny Woodhead, Theo Riddick and Mike Gillislee who are tied to better offenses and have an easier path to fantasy relevance. It is difficult to use such a high draft pick on a rookie running back in Cook’s specific situation.
I would prefer to draft Cook in the double digit rounds of fantasy drafts as a potential lottery ticket if Murray or McKinnon happen to miss extended time. The opportunity cost is to high to draft Cook where he is currently going in fantasy drafts. Other running backs such as Samaje Perine, Kareem Hunt, James White, Duke Johnson, Donta Foreman and Joe Williams are available later in fantasy drafts. If you feel compelled to own a piece of the Vikings running back committee I recommend you draft McKinnon. He is essentially free based on his ADP.
What was most useful for you in this article? What other rookies are you excited about in 2017? Please leave a comment below or reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody.