Start Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison In Fantasy Football This Thursday Night? Our Experts’ Advice

Start Dalvin Cook or Alexander Mattison In Fantasy Football This Thursday Night? Our Experts’ Advice article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, Vikings RB Alexander Mattison

  • The latest news on Dalvin Cook indicates the Vikings running back could "maintain his regular workload," per ESPN's Adam Schefter.
  • With Cook expected to play on Thursday Night Football, our experts weigh in on whether to start Cook or Alexander Mattison in fantasy football.

What a pickle for fantasy football players.

Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook suffered a nasty dislocated shoulder just 11 days ago, but according to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the stud ball-carrier is surprisingly on pace to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football.

This is great news for the Vikings as it appears that Cook's injury is not as serious as initially thought, especially for a team coming off a loss to the lowly Detroit Lions.

From a high level, even if Cook is active and sees the field, Minnesota could be very conservative with its franchise running back.

But from a fantasy football perspective, it's now quite messy to try and figure out the Vikings' backfield ahead of tonight's Thursday Night Football matchup, especially with a very capable backup and valuable fantasy option in Alexander Mattison as well.

So how should fantasy football players approach both of these key players? Our experts have weighed in.

Start or Sit Dalvin Cook in Fantasy Football?

According to our expert Chris Raybon — the No. 1 ranker of Week 13 — fantasy football players should start Cook with confidence, "I’m projecting a 2-1 snap split in favor of Cook, which is a bit lower than his usual 70-80% snap rate.

Cook is now my RB12 heading into Week 14."

You can find Raybon's real-time rankings here.

Fellow expert and Director of Predictive Analytics Sean Koerner — the No. 2 ranker of Week 13 — also provides his expertise:

"Cook is making a fast return from the dislocated shoulder he suffered just 11 days ago. I would imagine the Vikings’ 5-7 record and need for a win to stay in the playoff hunt are playing a huge part in the decision to allow Cook to play.

I think the most likely scenario tonight is for Cook to play through the injury and see 17-20 touches, more than enough for him to post RB1 value. However, there is a chance he has an in-game setback, or the Vikings end up using more of a 50/50 committee with Alexander Mattison mixing in a bit more than usual.

After all, Mattison is one of the most competent backups in the league. Given the wide range of outcomes, I'm ranking Cook as my RB14 and would lean toward rolling the dice on him.

Projected stat line for Cook: 14.0 rush attempts, 63 rush yards, .5 TD, 2.3 receptions, 17 receiving yards, .1 TD = 12.8 half-PPR points."

You can find Koerner's real-time rankings here.

Start or Sit Alexander Mattison in Fantasy Football?

So what does this mean for Mattison?

Raybon added, "Mattison drops to my RB37."

So if you happen to have a better option, Raybon suggests benching Mattison tonight, while Cook — if healthy enough — could have a big game against Pittsburgh's 24th-ranked rush defense per Football Outsiders' DVOA.

Koerner, meanwhile, sees a potential high-ceiling game for Mattison:

"Mattison has a wide range of outcomes since his fantasy production is directly correlated with how many touches Cook can handle tonight. I'm viewing Mattison as an RB26 with a fairly high floor and a massive ceiling for an RB3/flex. There is a scenario where Cook ends up re-aggravating his injury early on and Mattison ends up being a high-end RB1.

Projected stat line for Mattison: 11.8 rush attempts, 44 rush yards, .26 TD, 2.4 receptions, 18 receiving yards, .1 TD = 9.4 half-PPR points."

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