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Latavius Murray, More Fantasy Outlook After Dalvin Cook's Injury

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2018

Minnesota Vikings running back Latavius Murray warms up before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Mark Reis)
Mark Reis/Associated Press

The injuries continue to pile up for Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook after he suffered a hamstring injury that will force him to miss the team's game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills

Vikes head coach Mike Zimmer announced Cook is out for Week 3 on Friday, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

Cook was on his way to being an elite fantasy runner in 2017 with 444 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in four games. His season came to a quick end in Week 4 when he tore the ACL in his left knee against the Detroit Lions

The Vikings were committed to Cook as their every-down back last season, with Pro Football Focus' Austin Gayle noting he touched the ball 85 times in 169 offensive snaps before his injury. 

That ratio seemed likely to go up in 2018 with Jerick McKinnon signing with the San Francisco 49ers. Now, though, fantasy owners will have to determine which Vikings running backs can make the most impact until Cook is able to return. 

   

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Latavius Murray

The most obvious candidate to step in for Cook is Latavius Murray, who finished last season with 216 carries as the No. 1 guy in Minnesota. 

Over the final 12 games of the regular season, Murray had at least 14 touches 11 times and reached the end zone in six different games. 

Murray's rushing stats weren't overall impressive—his 3.9 yards per attempt was the worst of his career and his 52.6 yards per game were his fewest since he was a rookie in 2014. The 28-year-old wasn't much of a factor in the passing game with 15 receptions on 17 targets. 

Another factor at play in Minnesota is the change at quarterback. Kirk Cousins has a longer track record of success than Case Keenum and has completed at least 64.3 percent of his passes in each of the last three seasons. 

The Vikings have a loaded roster of skill players on offense that includes Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph. Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo may be more inclined to rely on Cousins and those assets on the outside, even for short yards, instead of giving Murray 15-plus carries each week. 

Murray is still going to be worth a roster addition as a flex option. He's not a full-time starter in fantasy because of he's not going to run past defenses, limiting his ability to create big plays, and isn't an established receiver. 

Mike Boone

Boone signed with the Vikings as an undrafted free agent earlier this year. He rushed for 2,250 yards and 24 touchdowns across four years at the University of Cincinnati.

The 23-year-old rookie rushed for 195 yards on 49 attempts (4.0 yards per carry) with a touchdown during the preseason. He's yet to receive any regular-season touches, though.

Until the Vikings show they are going to use Boone, and he shows himself capable of producing in an expanded role, there's no point in wasting a roster spot on him. There will be other running backs on the waiver wire who will contribute with yards on the ground and in the passing game.

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