Fantasy Outlook, Value, Projections, and Rankings

As we inch toward the new season, the ever-changing NFL landscape has player fantasy values constantly on the move. Whether you’re used to the dynasty platform or are still learning the rules, let’s dive into the latest dynasty value of Dalvin Cook.

Update 06/08/2023: ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Vikings starting running back Dalvin Cook will likely be released if the team cannot find a trade partner. This would propel Alexander Mattison into the starting role. We will update this article accordingly.

Dalvin Cook’s Dynasty Outlook and Value

I have no concerns about Kirk Cousins falling off a cliff anytime in the next couple of seasons, but I do have tremendous concern about Cook. If this is, in fact, the end for Cook, he’ll be yet another elite running back whose star shines bright and burns out quickly.

Cook ascended to the ranks of the elite in 2019, averaging 20.9 ppg and finishing as the overall RB2. He repeated his overall RB2 finish in 2020 and increased his ppg average to 24.1. At just 25 years old, Cook looked poised to be a stalwart inside the top five for the next 2-4 years.

Instead, Cook regressed a bit in 2021. From a ppg standpoint, it was catastrophic. Cook’s performance dropped by 8.2 ppg. However, his efficiency drop was minimal. His yards per touch dropped from 5.4 to 4.9. The main issue was after scoring 13 touchdowns in 2019 and 17 in 2020, Cook scored just six times in 2021.

Still only 26 years old, I, like many others, bought into a Cook bounce back in 2022. Instead, his performance declined even further. Although he still averaged 4.8 yards per touch, there were other concerning signs.

Cook’s target share decreased for a third consecutive year, bottoming out at 9%. His yards per carry dropped for a second consecutive year, down to 4.4. His touchdowns rebounded a bit to 10. Yet, he still averaged just 14 ppg, the second-lowest mark of his career.

MORE: 2023 Dynasty Rookie Rankings

Cook also saw noticeable dips in his percentage of carries to go for 15+ yards, as well as his evaded-tackles-per-touch rate. Simply put, it looks like Cook’s ability is declining.

Before the 2023 season is up, Cook will turn 28 years old. It’s rare for running backs to suddenly improve as they near 30, and Cook may very well be done after this season.

Cook is signed through his age-30 season and won’t be a free agent until 2026. However, Cook’s contract was wisely structured in a way that gives the Vikings an easy out right now if they wanted to take it.

Obviously, I don’t think Minnesota will cut Cook before the season starts. But they can cut him after this season with a minimal dead cap hit of $3.1 million. If his play doesn’t improve, this is a very likely outcome. This creates a difficult situation for fantasy managers.

Cook’s situation is still excellent. Despite his declining ability, Cook averaged a 74% snap share, which was fifth amongst running backs. With Alexander Mattison a free agent, the only real threat to Cook’s workload could come if the Vikings drafted an RB on Day 2. I think that’s unlikely. Once again, Cook looks poised to be a three-down back. The issue is this may be the last year.

Dalvin Cook’s Fantasy Ranking

If you have Cook, you should be looking to move him. The problem is I’m not entirely sure he’s even worth acquiring for win-now teams. That’s what makes buy/sell advice so tricky in dynasty leagues. It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you to sell Cook. It’s far more difficult to find the right buyer.

Cook is still firmly in the dynasty RB2 ranks, but it’s tenuous at best. I believe 2023 will be the last year Cook has decently strong fantasy value. He is someone I will likely be fading in 2023 redraft leagues and not someone I would recommend dynasty managers pursue.

Our RB17 ranking, No. 51 overall in dynasty Superflex formats, is the lowest Cook has been since entering the league. Unless you think his ranking will somehow be higher at this point next year, Cook probably isn’t even worth his cost in dynasty startup drafts.

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