Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook was carted off the field during the third quarter of Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers. Backup Alexander Mattison will see an uptick in fantasy value until Cook is available to return to the field.
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Vikings?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Vikings</a> RB Dalvin Cook tore his labrum while dislocating his shoulder yesterday, sources said the MRI revealed. But the ailment is not season-ending. The hope is this is like 2019, when the team rests Cook a few games to have him healthy for a playoff run.
Cook has been one of the most productive fantasy running backs in the league this season when healthy, as he has registered 734 rushing yards, 138 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
If the Florida State product is forced to miss time, Mattison will step into the starting role and become one of the hottest commodities in fantasy.
Last season, Cook enjoyed a career year with 1,557 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, plus 44 receptions for 361 yards and one score.
Injuries have been an issue for Cook throughout his career, though, and that was the case once again in 2020 when he missed two games.
Mattison started the two games Cook was out and appeared in 13 games total, registering 434 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to go along with 13 grabs for 125 yards and one receiving touchdown on the season.
Now, in the middle of his third NFL season, Mattison has racked up 48 rushing yards, 142 receiving yards and one touchdown entering Sunday. Though Mattison has seen a limited role to this point, he was able to find the end zone in Week 12:
With Cook struggling through injuries over the first few years of his career, the Vikings decided to take the Boise State product in the third round of the 2019 NFL draft as an insurance policy.
That turned out to be a prudent decision, as the 23-year-old has been productive in a backup role to this point in his career.
While Mattison isn't as big of a threat as Cook in the passing game and doesn't have as high of a ceiling, his floor is higher than most running backs in fantasy for as long as he gets starter reps.
The running game is as big of a part of Minnesota's offense as any team in the league, meaning whoever has the starting job is a must-start player in fantasy.
Mattison should be owned in all leagues even when Cook is healthy because of the value he brings when Cook is out, and it stands to reason that he could produce low-end RB1 or high-end RB2 numbers until his teammate returns.