Fantasy football owners may have to reach early for Vikings tailback Dalvin Cook, but it’ll be worth the investment.
I should know, as I was among that crowd.
Yet in 2019, Cook turned into the kind of player fantasy owners wanted to see: a bona fide point-getter and one of fantasy football’s top producers over the course of the season. His 250 carries for 1,135 yards, 13 rushing touchdowns and 53 receptions for 519 yards made him a fantasy gem, accounting for a whopping 292.4 fantasy points in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues.
In non-PPR leagues, Cook would be a solid addition in what’ll look like a balanced Vikings offense featuring the 24 year old as a dual-threat weapon, perhaps a player worth a second-round pick in your fantasy football draft.
But when you mix in the number of receptions he’s likely to get this upcoming season, Cook starts to dabble into first-round consideration.
Granted, going after a running back in Round 1 of fantasy drafts is risky business. Unless that player is the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey or, to a lesser extent, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, it’s best to postpone running back needs until later in the draft. You can always find more value there.
But here’s the catch: ESPN currently projects Cook as the No. 10 point-getter in fantasy leagues this upcoming season with the runner projected to net 291.4 fantasy points. Pro Football Focus ranks Cook even higher, coming in as the No. 6 option.
So, if you’re in a 10- or 12-team league and absolutely have to have Cook on your roster, it’s probably best not to sleep on him.
Fantasy football: Using ADP to create your Vikings big board
Cook will be rostered in virtually every league this season. The only question is where he’s commonly being selected in the early leagues taking shape in advance of the 2020 season.
Fantasy Football Calculator’s current rankings suggest the trend Pro Football Focus analyzed: Cook’s average draft position (ADP) is 1.06, meaning he’s averaging out to being the No. 6 player selected in Round 1.
Early fantasy owners are clearly banking on the kind of production Cook showcased a year ago, which isn’t a bad strategy to emulate, particularly in PPR leagues. So if you’re banking on Cook slipping into Round 2, you better think twice.
Vikings’ offensive fantasy outlook for Dalvin Cook
Minnesota was shorthanded at wide receiver last year, getting top-tier production out of now-Buffalo Bills wideout Stefon Diggs and, to a much-lesser extent, Adam Thielen, who’ll now be the bona fide No. 1 pass-catching option for quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system is about balance, and Cousins has zero hesitancy targeting his running backs in the passing game.
And while the Vikings spent a first-round draft pick on former LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson, it won’t be shocking to see Thielen, Cook and tight end Kyle Rudolph get the lion’s share of targets for the majority of 2020, particularly the first half as Jefferson looks to acclimate.
This’ll boost Cook’s value early, especially with a tough early slate of games for Minnesota.
So, while owners may be a bit hesitant using a first-round pick on a running back, the kind of projected rewards make him worth the early reach and target.
And if you get him towards the end of Round 1 or early in Round 2, it’s an absolute steal.