The Minnesota Vikings can’t seem to get the monkey off their backs. Last year, running back Adrian Peterson tore his meniscus in week 2. This Sunday in week 4 against the Detroit Lions, the Vikings fear that rookie running back Dalvin Cook has damage to his ACL.
In the third quarter, he tried making a cut, but his left knee gave out. He was helped off the field where he was able to walk on his own. However, an update reported by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero saw Cook leaving the locker room in crutches and with his knee in a brace. This most likely means that his season looks to be over.
This is a big blow to the Vikings’ offense. He was a huge factor who benefited from an upstart passing game. In fantasy, it’s a bigger blow trying to replace Cook, a RB2 or flex on most teams.
First Look: Replace Him with Latavius Murray
After Cook’s injury, running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon led the rushing tandom. Let me say this first: don’t expect them to be phenomenal starters for your fantasy team.
But in hindsight, Murray has more fantasy appeal then McKinnon. Murray will be the guy that will get more looks to run the ball. Last year, he was a touchdown-heavy back behind a terrific offensive line with the Oakland Raiders. Murray had seven carries for 21 yards on Sunday after the injury.
Murray can’t play every down like Cook, but expect him to get most of the early-down and goal-line work. He is capable of handling this type of workload as he scored 12 touchdowns last year with Oakland. He can excel behind this offensive line as they have been surprisingly good.
McKinnon can be looked at, but mostly for PPR leagues if you’re desperate. He will be in the mix as the feature back, but not as much as Murray.
McKinnon hasn’t had the opportunity to run the ball much. Even though he had a career-high 159 carries last year, he only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. McKinnon will handle most of the pass work, whether as the running back or in the wildcat.
I expect Murray to be the most sought player added to fantasy teams, not just to those who have Cook, but to those who need any running back help because of his role down at the goal-line.
For those who like to play the best matchups, give Aaron Jones of the Green Bay Packers a look. He plays the Dallas Cowboys next week, who were torched by Todd Gurley this past Sunday. Even though Dallas is in the middle of the pack in rushing defense, they aren’t the best defense. If Ty Montgomery (ribs) isn’t badly injured, Jones could get the majority of snaps, even if the original back Jamaal Williams (knee) plays.
Jones had a solid outing against the Bears, running for 49 yards and a score on 13 carries. Both him and Williams could be decent pickups this week if Montgomery misses a couple of weeks.
Another guy to look at if you need a flex filler is wide receiver Will Fuller V of the Houston Texans. He will be a popular pickup after his performance coming back from a broken collarbone. He found the end zone twice in week 4 against the Tennessee Titans on four catches for 35 yards. He’s off to a good start, matching his touchdowns from last season. With the Texans’ offense looking confident, he could be a guy you give a crack on.
Fantasy Outlook on Vikings players
As I mentioned, this has a big affect on all Viking players. Cook created a solid game, which helped create the passing game. Now with him and Bradford both hurt, the Viking offense won’t be the same. After his injury, it all went downhill for the Vikings on Sunday.
As for Murray, who I expect to start, he is a RB3 in week 5 against the Chicago Bears. If Bradford plays, receivers Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph are must starts.
For future reference, if you have Viking players on your fantasy team, have quality backups. They have bad luck when it comes to non-contact knee injuries. First Teddy Bridgewater in 2016, then Bradford and now Cook.
Featured image from tomahawknation.com.
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