Expect the Minnesota Vikings to run the ball much more often in 2019
By Adam Carlson
During the 2018 season, the Minnesota Vikings struggled to move the ball on the ground offensively. However, they should find more success in 2019.
Last year was disappointing for the Minnesota Vikings for several reasons. Not only did they fail to reach the playoffs but many parts of their offense and defense struggled to perform to the best of their abilities.
One of the biggest struggles came on offense, where the Vikings only mustered 1,493 yards rushing from scrimmage (30th in the league) on 357 carries (27th among all teams). Minnesota’s offense couldn’t find a balance and that resulted in a one-dimensional attack which didn’t yield good results.
The team invested quite a bit in improving their run game. Not only did they sign players in free agency but they also invested heavily in the position at the 2019 NFL Draft, adding a center in Round 1 and a running back in Round 3. Plus, they made changes to their coaching staff to ensure the team will be prepared to run the ball.
Recently, Ben Gretch of CBS Sports looked at some teams which could see a big improvement in their number of carries this season and had two teams projected to increase their carries by 77 attempts in the 2019 season.
"“I’m projecting Minnesota for the highest 2019 rush percentage among this quartet, essentially an extension of a trend we saw after Kevin Stefanski took over coordinator duties on an interim basis in the wake of John DeFilippo’s firing. Everything we’ve heard out of Minnesota since then — including the removal of Stefanski’s interim tag — suggests the Vikings would love to run more.”"
Gretch also sees the Green Bay Packers running more often, meaning that the NFC North could look a little more like the Black and Blue division of the past. A heavier workload for the running backs on these two teams could help to wear down opposing defenses, control the time of possession, and move the chains more often.
How those carries will be divided among the Minnesota running backs will have to be seen. Lightening the load for Dalvin Cook by splitting carries with rookie Alexander Mattison might be wise, but it’s still too soon to tell how those rushing attempts will be split up.
For fantasy football purposes, there are reasons to be excited and skeptical about Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison. However, for the Minnesota Vikings, it will be a success for the team no matter who has the ball in their hands.