Fantasy fallout: Can you trust Dalvin, Duke and David?
Fantasy fallout: Can you trust Dalvin, Duke and David?
In a flash, Dalvin Cook launched his way back into the good graces of his fantasy owners.
After missing five of the previous six games with a hamstring injury, the Minnesota Vikings running back didn’t just ease his way back into the lineup last Sunday. Instead, he topped out at 22.07 miles per hour — the fastest of any ball carrier this season, according to NFL’s Next Gen Stats — while busting loose for a career-long 70-yard run against the Detroit Lions.
Cook also exceeded his expected pitch count while playing 28 snaps and touching the ball 14 times for a total of 109 yards from scrimmage.
Now he gets an extra week to recover with the Vikings on a bye in Week 10. So, yes, ESPN Vikings reporter Courtney Cronin expects Cook to return to his role as Minnesota’s lead back down the stretch.
“The best thing the Vikings athletic training staff did for Cook’s recovery was to shut him down completely in Week 8 [after he had been on and off the practice field for weeks],” Cronin said.
Cook will still split time with fellow running back Latavius Murray, who could get a hefty amount of the Vikings’ carries near the goal line. But Cronin said offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s plan all year was to use both backs in both the run game and the passing game — sometimes on the field at the same time.
Just last Sunday, Cook motioned into the slot while Murray was in the backfield, and he caught a 4-yard pass that nearly turned into another big gain. Cronin said she also expects the Vikings to feature Cook more in the screen passing game.
“A healthy Cook will allow DeFilippo flexibility with elements of his playbook he hasn’t been able to dial up just yet,” Cronin wrote.
So now that Cook has regained your fantasy trust, how about these other guys who had recent breakouts? Our ESPN NFL Nation reporters weigh in:
Duke Johnson: Johnson’s fantasy owners certainly benefited from the Cleveland Browns‘ decision to fire head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley last week. In Freddie Kitchens’ first game as the new offensive coordinator, Johnson caught a season-high nine passes for a season-high 78 receiving yards with his first two touchdowns of the year.
However, Browns reporter Pat McManamon cautioned that Johnson’s big game was only partly a result of Kitchens’ desire to get Johnson the ball — and partly the result of facing a Kansas City Chiefs defense that ranks 28th in the NFL against the pass.
“A little bit of both,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “There were some times where we had the matchups that we wanted and Duke was able to make plays.”
The good news is that the Browns’ next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, rank 29th in pass defense.
Berry: Duke Johnson benefits from OC change in Cleveland
Matthew Berry discusses Duke Johnson’s game last week and how the Browns changing coaches will give him more touches.
Larry Fitzgerald/David Johnson: The Arizona Cardinals‘ dynamic duo got a similar bump after a disappointing start to the season two weeks ago when Arizona switched offensive coordinators from Mike McCoy to Byron Leftwich. And now Leftwich has had a full bye week to keep retooling the offense.
Obviously the Cardinals have bigger problems than one playcaller can solve (they rank dead last in the NFL in yards per game and 31st in points per game). But Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss said, “Here’s what I trust: That Leftwich will try to get Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson involved more. It’s only natural to believe their production will improve as a result of that.”
Weinfuss also pointed out that Leftwich worked under former Arizona coach Bruce Arians when this offense was at its peak, and he expects him to play off of what worked well in the past.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: That happened fast. As Green Bay Packers reporter Rob Demovsky wrote, the rookie fifth-round pick has used his blazing speed and big-play ability to vault himself into the Green Bay Packers’ No. 2 receiver role.
Valdes-Scantling is still a tad boom-or-bust. He has only eight catches over the past three games — but four of them have gone for 60, 51, 40 and 30 yards. And Demovsky said his production should only increase, especially after Packers receiver Geronimo Allison was placed on injured reserve this week.
“I think you can trust him because Aaron Rodgers trusts him, and that should mean more opportunities,” Demovsky said. “Teams are going to continue to try to take away Davante Adams, so MVS should become more of a volume guy and not just an occasional big-play receiver.”
Maurice Harris: The Washington Redskins‘ third-year receiver also took advantage in a big way after injuries depleted Washington’s receiving corps. He had 10 catches for 124 yards Sunday against Atlanta’s struggling pass defense — torching his previous career high of three catches.
Redskins reporter John Keim expects Harris to remain involved because, “they need him to play regardless.” Receiver Paul Richardson was just placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Pass-catching running back Chris Thompson has been ruled out for this week. And receiver Jamison Crowder is probably a week away from returning.
“What Harris is doing now is what he showed early in training camp when he stood out more than the other receivers,” Keim said. “He’s not a fast guy and he’s not overly physical, but he has terrific hands. He won’t become some dynamic weapon, but he can remain a strong option for them.
“And the beauty of Mo Harris is that he can run routes from all three positions. So when Jamison Crowder returns, he can run routes as the Z opposite Josh Doctson. I’d still use him in the slot at times, though, because his size presents an advantage.”
Elijah McGuire: The New York Jets‘ second-year running back returned from injured reserve last week and immediately played a big role, with 36 snaps compared to just 23 for veteran Isaiah Crowell. McGuire had seven rushes for 30 yards and three catches for 37.
“Some of that is due to the fact that they were throwing late in the game, and McGuire is their ‘passing back,'” Jets reporter Rich Cimini said of the role that belonged to veteran Bilal Powell before he was placed on injured reserve two weeks ago. “They’ll never have a true workhorse because they believe in the committee approach.”
But Cimini said he could see McGuire continuing to have a prominent role, especially since Crowell’s production has dipped lately.
Cincinnati Bengals: The fantasy trust factor is practically nonexistent with second-year receiver John Ross, who has not yet delivered on his potential as the ninth pick in the draft. But as Bengals reporter Katherine Terrell wrote, he is one of several candidates who could step up while Cincinnati’s star receiver A.J. Green is expected to miss at least two games with a toe injury.
Chicago Bears: Coach Matt Nagy made good on his promise to get running back Jordan Howard‘s season on track, wrote Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson. Although he carried the ball only 14 times for 47 yards last Sunday, he scored twice, giving him four touchdowns in the past three weeks. And he will be key to the Bears’ stretch run, especially when they play in winter weather.
Philadelphia Eagles: Golden Tate had two touchdown catches against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this season when he was still in Detroit. Now he could help deliver a knockout blow to the Cowboys if his new team has him prepared enough to give a repeat performance, wrote Eagles reporter Tim McManus.
New Orleans Saints: Dez Bryant is now likely done for the season, and Michael Thomas and Saints running back Alvin Kamara, with two more breakout performances in Sunday’s 45-35 win against the Los Angeles Rams (and one memorable cellphone celebration), have cemented themselves as the two most dynamic playmakers in the Sean Payton-Drew Brees era.
Buffalo Bills: Running back LeSean McCoy‘s lack of production has reached alarming proportions as he has run for a total of 24 yards on 24 carries over the past three weeks, wrote Bills reporter Mike Rodak.
Houston Texans: Demaryius Thomas‘ first game with his new team was a mixed bag, wrote Texans reporter Sarah Barshop. He had three catches for 61 yards, all in the first half, and beat himself up over some mental errors.
Washington Redskins: Adrian Peterson admitted that he and his “friend Maker’s Mark” had a long night after the Redskins lost two offensive linemen to season-ending injuries last Sunday, as Keim wrote. But the 33-year-old running back remained upbeat that he can continue his remarkable resurgence this season.
New England Patriots: Running back James White has been key in helping New England fill the void left by Dion Lewis, wrote Patriots reporter Mike Reiss. Tennessee Titans coach Mike Vrabel joked that White “has like 5,000” receptions. And Reiss said White has been on the field for 59.7 percent of the team’s snaps because of injuries in the position group, compared to 33.7 last year.
November 10, 2018 at 05:50AM