Vikings RB Dalvin Cook possesses a unique combination of strength and speed that can dismantle any defense. The problem is that he has been limited by injuries throughout much of his career. In five years with Minnesota, Cook has yet to play a full season. In spite of that, he’s earned Pro Bowl honors in three straight seasons.
Cook had his first 1,000-yard season in 2019, when he ran for 1,135 yards in 14 games, averaging 4.5 yards-per-attempt. He followed that up with 1,557 yards in 2020 and another 1,159 in 2021. Three straight 1,000-yard seasons is nothing to scoff at, especially when you consider he averaged 4.7 yards-per-carry in that stretch. Cook also battled injuries throughout that run, including hamstring and groin strains, a sprained ankle, and a dislocated shoulder that tore his labrum.
From a fantasy perspective, Cook – injuries or not – offers a lot. Amongst running backs with 200+ carries, Cook’s average of 4.7 yards-per-attempts ranked third. His 1,159 yards ranked fifth, and his 89.2 yards-per-game ranked fourth. He did it all in just 13 games, too, which made him the only running back to eclipse 1,000 yards without playing in at least 16 games.
Cook is also a reliable, but not often used, target in the passing game. Last season, he was targeted 49 times, catching 34 for 224 yards (if you’re looking for a receiving RB go with Ekeler or McCaffrey). Like we touched on with teammate Justin Jefferson, Cook can expect to see more targets this season with the addition of new head coach Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell previously was the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator and has gone on record saying he expects to rejuvenate the pass game.
Cook is going to put up strong numbers, that’s no question. The bigger question is how many games will he play. There is often some sort of injury he is battling. I’m most concerned about his shoulder as he suffered a torn labrum last season and didn’t undergo surgery in the offseason. That leaves him vulnerable to another dislocation and potentially more damage to the shoulder. He’s too risky to take in the first round.