While it had been rumored for weeks, the Minnesota Vikings are officially set to release veteran RB Dalvin Cook. The team had largely been run-heavy in the past but could be leaning toward a more balanced attack with an improved receiving corps. Minnesota can still trade Cook ahead of their self-imposed release deadline of Friday at 4 p.m. ET, but for now, it seems that he will hit free agency.
With Cook’s departure, this means that Alexander Mattison is expected to take over as the starting running back for Minnesota. He has been the backup to Cook for the entirety of his rookie contract. When the Vikings re-signed Mattison to a four-year deal, there was speculation it could mean that they were ready to move on from Cook, and as of Thursday, they have.
Mattison should now see a huge workload in the offense, with only Ty Chandler and DeWayne McBride currently on the depth chart behind him. This projected offensive involvement should have him shooting up draft boards. You should exercise caution with the offense likely becoming more balanced, but Mattison should see 15-20 carries a game. I think this has him landing as an RB2 with upside throughout the season.
When it comes to keeper or dynasty leagues, the Cook release doesn’t mean a lot right now. His landing spot will fully determine his seasonal outlook to see if he can land somewhere and be the starter or if he is destined to be part of another platoon. The Miami Dolphins and the Denver Broncos are both expected to be in the mix to sign him, which would likely relegate him to a crowded backfield. Mattison should see his value increase provided he can continue the high level of play he displayed while serving as Cook’s backup and filling in when Cook missed time. You could make a case that this is the time to sell high for Mattison, but there is that chance heading into the fifth year of his career that he can cement himself as the clear starter for at least the next few seasons.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins used to benefit from the threat that Cook presented and his blocking ability. The good news is that Mattison is used to laying down blocks to buy Cousins more time, but it remains to be seen if he can emulate the same offensive threat. For now, I think the departure of Cook and transition to Mattison actually drops Cousins’ value a little bit, but he should still be fantasy relevant this season from the weapons around him.
Fantasy Relevant Vikings players
QB — Kirk Cousins
RB — Alexander Mattison
WR — Justin Jefferson
WR — Jordan Addison
TE — TJ Hockenson