Dalvin Cook continued to show how good of a running back he is in 2021. Even though he missed four games, he still finished with over 1,000 yards rushing and six touchdowns. With the number of mouths to feed around him like wide receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson, Minnesota continues to be run heavy letting Cook eat on the ground.
The Minnesota Vikings are liking what they are seeing from backup Alexander Mattison, and with Cook missing four games last year, the team may try to limit his reps a little bit to try and mitigate his chances for injury as much as they can. Cook remains one of the most talented running backs in the league so if he has fewer attempts, but plays a full season, he will be among the top rushers in fantasy football.
2021 season statistics & fantasy finish
Rushing: Cook had 249 carries for 1,159 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games.
Receiving: He brought in 34 of 49 targets for 224 yards but didn’t take a reception into the endzone.
Fantasy: Cook finished as the overall RB15 with 189.3 fantasy points in half-point PPR formats. He scored 14.6 fantasy points per game which were the 10th most among running backs.
Minnesota Vikings offseason moves
The Vikings didn’t make too many moves that would affect Cook in the offseason. They mainly shored up their defense by signing OLB Za’Darius Smith and LB Jordan Hicks and drafting Georgia S Lewis Cine and Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr. in the 2022 NFL Draft. Minnesota did draft North Carolina RB Ty Chandler in the fifth round, but he projects to be the third running back at best.
2022 best case scenario
Cook’s best case scenario is that he still averages 14 to 17 carries a game and can stay healthy. If that happens and you include the 17-game schedule, Cook could be eyeing a 1,700-yard season. We know that he is going to have solid touchdown numbers and his best case scenario would see him find the endzone 10-14 times on the ground. If this can happen, Cook will get back to being a top-three running back in fantasy football.
2022 worst case scenario
Barring an injury, Cook’s worst case scenario would see the team highly limiting his touches and giving Mattison more work. If Cook is held to 10-12 touches a game and the Vikings decide to have their offense lean onto the shoulders of quarterback Kirk Cousins and air the ball out, Cook could see his numbers drop. His worst case scenario, while staying active, would see him top out at 1,000 yards rushing and remaining around that seven touchdown mark from a year ago. Cook’s floor is that of a mid to low RB2 which isn’t awful but would be a down year for him.
I think that Cook lands somewhere in the middle of his best and worst case scenarios. He will likely see his touches slightly lowered to try and keep him healthy. Cook will still be an efficient runner who is effective for his team. He is still one of the best running backs in the entire league and should finish as a low-end RB1 somewhere in the overall RB8 or RB10 range.