Minnesota Backfield

Who:

Dalvin Cook | Latavius Murray

What:

Based on his usage and small but effective sample size Dalvin Cook looked poised to return to bell-cow like numbers, however a strong preseason by Latavius Murray and a conservative coaching staff urges the fantasy manger to take a closer look.

Last year after falling in the NFL Draft a bit due “character” issues, Dalvin Cook was snatched up by the Vikings and they put him to work! In his 4 games prior to injury Cook amassed 354 rushing yards via 74 rushes for a healthy 4.8 YPC. He also racked up 16 targets and 90 yards. His usage, if extrapolated over the full season would have been on par with the likes of Melvin Gordon and LeSean McCoy. Dalvin Cook and his fantasy managers were devastated when he tore his left ACL cutting that usage short merely a quarter of the way through the regular season. Well all reports out of OTA’s, minicamp, and even preseason is that Cook has shed his knee brace and is “ahead of schedule.” So all signs are pointing to a return to form for Cook, especially in terms of how he was utilized in this offense, right?

Not so fast! Because as effective as Cook was last year, after his injury Latavius Murray was no chump in replacement duties. He managed 842 yards and a strong 8 touchdowns last year in relief. He has also been quite serviceable in the preseason as well as Cook has been placed in purple and yellow bubble wrap to prepare for the season. Murray has also had some buzz generated around him as Rotoballer has reported that Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook could split carries. This was after Head Coach Mike Zimmer would not discuss the numerical split of carries but said that both backs would “be a factor.”

The Fantasy Whisperers are paying close attention to this fluid situation and so should you. At the end of the day we expect talent to win out as Cook is clearly a better NFL talent than Murray. We do, however expect Murray to be quite annoying to those with Cook in their lineups especially in the first 4 or 5 games to start the year. It is also worth noting that Pat Shurmur, who used Cook as his workhorse before the injury is no longer with the Vikings as he took the HC job with the Giants.

Where:

Dalvin Cook ADP: 2.01 Latavius Murray ADP: 10.04

Given Cook’s ADP you would be wise to scoop up Murray to secure you have your backup. As we saw last year, in the event that Cook goes down Murray will have high value at a very shallow and coveted position.

When:

As mentioned above it is likely for the first few weeks at least, Murray will siphon off a healthy share of this backfield. Then as Cook gets acclimated back into the workhorse role he should assume the healthy usage that he was receiving last year.

Why:

Often in Fantasy “handcuffing” your stud RB is a wise and necessary tactic. This backfield is no exception and you should be prepared to draft both if you draft Cook at the top of Fantasy Drafts. Additionally it may be wise to scoop up Murray if you are short on RB heading into week one. His usage may have standalone value at the beginning of the year and he could be used as trade bait for those who drafted Cook.

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