The Vikings and running back Dalvin Cook are parting ways after six seasons, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The long-rumored split will have big time implications for fantasy managers, starting out with an increase in the value of Alexander Mattison. A talented runner who rarely had a chance to be a featured back, he’ll now be a solid No. 2 fantasy option and worth a top-50 pick in redrafts.
As for Cook, there should be no shortage of suitors for his services. While he did put up a career-low 4.4 yards per carry last season, he still rushed for over 1,100 yards and averaged 14 PPR points per game. In all, Cook finished as the RB11 in what many believe was a down season for the first former first-round fantasy selection.
Here’s my top five favorite potential fantasy landing spots for Cook, who turns 28 later this summer. These don’t take into account salary cap situations, since we’ve learned those can be “massaged,” but rather where Cook might see the most opportunities. We’ll start off with maybe the most likely spot, South Beach.
Cook, who is from Miami and attended Miami Central High School, might want to finish his career back home. He’d be an instant upgrade over Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. as the leader of a new backfield committee that also includes rookie Devon Achane. Playing in what is expected to remain an explosive offense, Cook would come right in and make some noise as a No. 2 fantasy runner.
Reunited and it feels so good? If Cook lands in Buffalo, he would play with his little brother, James. He would also hurt his brother’s fantasy sleeper appeal, but Dalvin would be the unquestioned starter ahead of both James and Damien Harris. The Bills have lacked a playmaking force in their backfield in recent seasons, so this sort of move would make sense in terms of both real and fantasy football.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
All of you Rachaad White truthers would hate this move, but the Buccaneers could use another runner in their backfield. With White and Chase Edmonds as their top options, adding Cook to the mix would improve the ground attack. It would also destroy White’s sleeper appeal, but it would make Cook the leader of a committee and worth a fantasy pick as a No. 2 fantasy runner in most 2023 drafts.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are going nowhere fast, and chances are they wouldn’t look to add a back like Cook to the mix based on their salary cap. But … this is fantasy. Cook could come in and become their new number one runner, ahead of Cam Akers, and see a sizable workload for a team that lacks offensive playmakers. If this move ever happened, Cook would bring back RB2 or flex value for the season.
We’re still not sure what’s going on with Javonte Williams in his return from a knee injury, so adding Cook could make sense for the Broncos. Yes, the team has talked up free-agent addition Samaje Perine this offseason, but Cook would be an upgrade. A committee of some sorts would ultimately emerge when Williams is able to return, but Cook could hold some RB2 or flex value especially in the first half of the season.