Fantasy Football Update: Dalvin Cook’s Departure and Alexander Mattison’s Rise to Prominence

In fantasy football, you never know when a significant news drop will occur. Despite countless rumors and expectations that it would happen, Dalvin Cook no longer being a Minnesota Vikings will still take some getting used to. The four-time Pro Bowler ends his career in Minnesota after being cut by the Vikings. A fantasy football update needs to be made as a result. 

Dalvin Cook’s Run

Cook’s run in Minnesota will end as one of the most successful backs in franchise history. He carried the torch for previous Vikings backs, such as Adrian Peterson, with great fantasy success. After an injury-plagued rookie season, he had two fantastic years in 2019 and 2020, finishing as the number two running back in PPR points per game. This past year under head coach Kevin O’Connell, Cook continued his strong play, finishing as running back No. 11 overall in PPR and running back No. 14 in fantasy points per game.

With his release, several questions remain. There is a potential cascade effect for fantasy managers as several players and situations will be in flux whenever Cooks signs. 
Where will Cook end up now?

Rumors persisted for months that Cook would be a trade candidate, and when that did not come to fruition, he was cut. Which team will Cook end up with next? Cook will be 28 years old to start the 2023 season. He still has top-notch ability. However, father time is undefeated. This could potentially be the last team he ever plays with.

Potential Landing Spots for Cook

Miami has been a team long rumored as a potential Cook landing spot. His only backfield competition would be third-round rookie Devon Achane and veterans Jeff Wilson and Raheem Mostert. If Cook were to sign with Miami, he would maintain RB2 value. With dynamic playmakers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle at WR, Miami would add to an impressive group of playmakers in a dynamic and exciting offense. Miami is the ideal fantasy landing spot. 

Buffalo is another exciting landing spot. Cook’s younger brother James is entering his second year as a Buffalo Bill. The two potentially could form an exciting tandem. Buffalo seems more of a hopeful destination than a probable one, with the Bills already securing the services of Damien Harris this past offseason. Like DeAndre Hopkins, Cook is another veteran linked to Buffalo in their quest for a Super Bowl.

The Denver Broncos are an interesting potential landing spot. Trading their first-round pick for Sean Payton and supporting the hefty contract of Russell Wilson should put to bed any idea that this is a rebuild. Denver wants to win this year, and Cook could help them immensely.

The Broncos

Javonte Williams is recovering very well, and Denver coaches have been optimistic about his timetable. Still, even the greatest optimist would have trouble viewing him as someone who could take on a massive workload to start the season. Adding Dalvin Cook to an offense that was last place in points per game could be an exciting direction for Denver to head into.
The New York Jets, much like Denver, have a young and talented running back coming off of a significant injury in Breece Hall. Apparently, New York would have considered drafting Jahmyr Gibbs if he was available to them in the first round. Combining Dalvin Cook with new quarterback Aaron Rodgers would be out of left field, but it could make sense for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

The Dallas Cowboys are a team that aspires to win a Super Bowl. They have moved on from Ezekiel Elliott, and the current running back pecking order is Tony Pollard, with Malik Davis as the handcuff and Deuce Vaughn as a receiving threat out of the backfield. Pollard was outstanding last season, finishing as an RB1. He’s a dynamic player with two-way ability, but there are concerns about how much volume he can handle. Cook filling the Ezekiel Elliott role would be a significant talent upgrade (although this would be a gross signing for Tony Pollard managers).

There are some other wildcard teams with cap space, such as Arizona, and teams with a need for a big-name running back signing, like Washington. However, I don’t see either of these teams as a likely fit.

Is it Alexander Mattison SZN in Minnesota?

Mattison has performed very well in games that Dalvin Cook has missed. In Alexander Mattison‘s last four starts, he averaged 25.1 PPR points. Mattison has 693 total yards and five touchdowns in his six career starts. He is only 24 and was a Day 2 selection out of Boise State. The Minnesota coaching staff has talked up Mattison as a three-down back at a big piece of their offense in 2023.

On the flip side, there are some concerns. Under multiple coaching staffs, Mattison struggled to receive touches in games Dalvin Cook played. Unlike other No. 2 backs, such as AJ Dillon, Mattison was strictly a handcuff. He has only finished as an RB2 (top 24) or better for consecutive weeks once.

Last year Mattison failed to crack 100 carries, finishing with 74 total on the year. Mattison’s career high was 134 carries in 2021. He will now have an opportunity to shatter that number in 2023.

Some interesting backup RBs are now in line to gain considerable contingent value should Mattison falter or break down. Ty Chandler played in only three games as a rookie and had only six carries. He had 13 TDs in his final collegiate season and was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. DeWayne McBride was selected in the seventh round of the 2023 Draft. He is 21 and was the 2022 CUSA Player of the Year with over 1,700 rushing yards and 19 TDs. In 2021, he had over 1,300 yards rushing with 13 TDs. Both players have speed and now have a real opportunity.

Minnesota could also be involved with Free Agent RBs like Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, and Kareem Hunt.