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Countdown to 2021 fantasy football drafts: Dalvin Cook No. 2

Dalvin Cook comes in at No. 2 in our fantasy football rankings countdown to the 2021 NFL season.

Chicago Bears v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

We knew Dalvin Cook was going to be great when the Minnesota Vikings nabbed the Florida State product in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. It just took a while to get going, but now he’s firmly established himself as one of the most dynamic, exciting and productive players in the NFL. After a monster season in 2020, we’re expecting big things from Cook again this year. That’s why he’s checking in at No. 2 on our fantasy rankings.

To commemorate the 2021 NFL season, we’ll be counting down the 75 best fantasy football players in the league. Picking a Top 75 is subjective, especially when you are projecting a whole season of accumulated fantasy points, but that’s part of the fun. We’ll assume what I see as an average league, which is 12 teams, .5 PPR scoring and a roster of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, & 1RB/WR/TE. Kickers and defenses need not apply.

Change is the nature of the NFL beast, so trades and injuries will likely impact this list as we go along, but hey, this isn’t rocket science. We’re here to have a little fun and build up some much needed anticipation for a league cast in the shadow by baseball, soccer, hockey, etc. Sarcasm aside, the NFL is addictive and we’re here to give your daily fix as we close in on the season.

The official fantasy football drafting tiers can be found here.

No. 2, Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings, RB

After a good season in 2019, Cook exploded last year. He produced 1,557 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 312 carries. And while he’s not a dual-threat back in the way Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey are, he still managed to post 361 receiving yards and a touchdown on 44 receptions. Only Derrick Henry had more yards from scrimmage than Cook. And there’s no reason to think he’ll slow down this year.

Competition for touches

The Vikings do have a good backup in Alexander Mattison, but he’s not a threat to eat into Cook’s total carries. Minnesota’s receivers are going to dominate the passing game, but Cook’s almost always going to be good for around 40 catches or so.

Team offensive expectations

Despite Cook’s production totals, the Vikings offense was just middle of the road last season, thanks mostly to quarterback Kirk Cousins. But that’s why they have a spark plug like Cook.

What’s his upside?

It’s hard to imagine Cook putting together a better season than he did last year, but don’t be surprised if he does. He’s just so elusive. Cook had 71 broken tackles last season and 2.8 yards after contact, according to Football Outsiders’ data. He was even better in the red zone, hence the 16 touchdowns.

What’s his downside?

Injuries kept Cook off the field for much of his first two seasons in the league, so that’s definitely a concern here. Beyond that, if he’s on the field, he’s going to produce.

Projection

310 carries; 1,475 yards; 14 touchdowns
50 receptions, 400 yards, 2 touchdowns