Since coming back from a Week 7 Bye where he was able to nurse an adductor injury, Dalvin Cook has put the NFL on notice. The Vikings 2017 Second Round pick has been the team’s feature Running Back (RB) since joining the team, but really broke out last season. While injuries have always been the concern for Cook, when healthy he is a lethal weapon (according to Adrian Peterson). The Vikings extended Dalvin for another five years this off season, and he is proving that he is worth all $63M the team gave him.
In his last two games Cook has 478 yards from scrimmage, rushing for 369 yards to go with another 109 through the air. Not to mention he has a pedestrian 6 Touchdowns (TD). Not a big deal. Against the Lions yesterday afternoon, Cook eclipsed the 200 yard rushing mark for the first time in his career. Fitting that he did so in Minnesota with Vikings legend Adrian Peterson on the opposing sideline. With these back to back performances, Cook became just the third player in NFL history with more than 225 scrimmage yards and at least two TDs in consecutive games. His companions who have achieved this feat? Deuce McAllister (’03) and Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1963).
On the season, Dalvin is second in Yards from Scrimmage (1 031) behind Alvin Kamara (1 036) who has played one game more than Cook. Cook’s 147.3 yard has him in first place by nearly 18 yards per game, primarily coming on the ground as he averages 122 rushing yards per game. This put’s him 17 yards ahead of second (Henry) and 36 yards ahead of third (Sanders). He is also the only RB with double digit rushing TDs at 12 (13 total). Cook may not get the passing volume (36th among RBs in targets per game), but a certain degree of that can be explained by the fact that Kirk has to throw less because Cook does so much on the ground.
From a Fantasy Football perspective, Cook is starting to take over as the top dog at the RB position. In both standard and Half Point PPR (Point Per Reception) leagues, Cook ranks as the top RB, ahead of Alvin Kamara. At Full point, Kamara is still king with his 60 receptions and 565 passing yards compared to Cook’s 16 receptions for 173 yards.
After starting 1-5 and staring down what looked to be an inevitable rebuild, the Vikings now have new life, thanks in large part to Cook. The Vikings Defense was decimated this off season, losing all of their starting Corner Backs from last season and a long time, successful edge rusher. Furthermore, the Vikings Defense lost DT Michel Pierce (opt out), they traded away failed experiment DE Ngakoue, and lost both LB Anthony Barr and premier edge rusher Danielle Hunter to season ending injuries. Even for defensive guru Mike Zimmer this is a lot of over come which is why this team desperately needed to rely on their offense this year. Kirk has proved that at best he can carry this team in small spurts, but this team is truly successful when the offense runs through Dalvin.
While it would be a huge stretch to think that Dalvin could or would win the MVP vote, it has been a lot of fun to watch. Vikings fans have been blessed with elite RBs since the team drafted Adrian Peterson in the 2007. Cook has picked up and ran with that torch both figuratively and literally, but as is the case with most stars, Cook has been sure to praise those around him. The improved play by the offensive line, and the consistency that is CJ Ham have both played major factors in Cook’s success. It definitely is not lost on Dalvin!
While Cook may still have a ways to go to usurp the throne of top RB from guys like McCaffrey, Kamara, Barkley, Henry or Zeke, he is very much planted himself in that conversation. The Vikings currently sit two games back of the seventh and final playoff spot with the Bears (twice), Cowboys, Panthers and Jaguars on deck in five of their next six games. The Vikings will need to win one if not both against the Bears to bring their divisional record to 4-1, and win at least one of the other three matchups. This would put the team in contention heading into the home stretch of the season, as long as Dalvin’s back doesn’t give out.
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