Fantasy football owners will have their hands full this week when attempting to figure out what to do with Dalvin Cook. The Minnesota Vikings’ talented second-year running back missed Week 3 due to a hamstring injury, and his Week 4 status for Thursday Night Football remains up in the air.
On Tuesday, though, there was some good news to report on Cook, as NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero revealed, the Vikings back took part in practice.
As NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport revealed, Cook is likely to play but will be on some type of a pitch count, which is bad news for fantasy owners.
This makes Cook a risky play in all formats (ignore all content below), and a likely fade in daily fantasy games. Realistically, it would be smart to look at using another option either as a starting running back or flex player in your fantasy lineups for Week 4.
The Argument for Starting Dalvin Cook
Sometimes, talent just trumps everything. Cook’s pass-catching makes him an incredibly intriguing play in most formats, as the Rams have allowed 24 catches to opposing running backs through three weeks. If Cook is all systems go, he should see plenty of targets coming his way in the passing game.
And while this season’s numbers haven’t been overwhelmingly impressive, the 23-year-old was impressive in the four games he played last year. Over that stretch, Cook was a workhorse with 74 carries for 354 yards and two touchdowns.
The upside is unquestionably there, but it’s not as simple as just going off that.
The Argument for Sitting Dalvin Cook
There are some reasons for concern after Cook’s start to the 2018 NFL season. The Vikings running back is coming off a torn ACL last season and has totaled 26 carries for 78 yards (3.0 yards per carry) through the two games he played. With that said, he did manage to catch nine passes for 107 yards.
In this specific instance, the negatives outweigh the positives in a big way for fantasy football owners. Not only has Cook struggled this season, but hamstring injuries are nothing to mess around with. Just last week, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette was expected to play but was held out in somewhat of a surprising decision.
Even if the Vikings do start Cook, one tweak could send him to the sidelines not only for this game but for a few additional weeks. It’s unlikely the team wants to risk that, so they could opt to play it safe.
Going beyond the actual injury, the numbers don’t favor the Vikings running back in this matchup. Aside from the pass-catching opportunities, the Rams have allowed just 96.7 rushing yards per game (No. 9 in the league) and two rushing touchdowns. It’s a tough matchup for Cook, and with the Rams boasting a high-scoring offense, Minnesota could be forced to throw early and often.
If Cook is cleared to play, I’m fine using him in daily fantasy games, such as DraftKings’ showdown options. But in season-long leagues, unless you have no one even remotely close to him in upside, I’d try to find another option.
Cook has the potential to put all the stats and numbers aside and just dominate, but with the matchup and injury together, it’s a scary spot. In 12-team leagues with flex and 14-teamers, I can understand rolling him out in your starting lineup. But beyond that, I think playing it safe with the Vikings back and treading lightly Thursday is the smart move.