🤯 The Team About To Ditch Their Star RB

The worst kept secret...

Presented by The Athletic

Anthony Richardson can juggle? Adjust the ranks...

In today’s Fantasy Life Newsletter presented by The Athletic:

  • What's up with Dalvin Cook?

  • OverReaction Monday: Surprise teams

  • The RB ready to blast off

  • Way Too Early: Week 1 First Look

  • It's 5/22. Take it away, Peter Overzet...

The worst kept secret in the NFL right now is that the Minnesota Vikings intend to move on from 27-year-old running back Dalvin Cook.

It’s hard to make it anymore obvious than they did the other day when they updated their Twitter banner to feature four offensive pillars:

  • Justin Jefferson

  • Kirk Cousins

  • T.J. Hockenson

  • Dalvin Cook Alexander Mattison

On the one hand, it’s just a Twitter banner. On the other hand, it would make zero sense to feature your backup RB in that space if you planned to retain your starter for 2023.

The team re-signed Mattison to a 2-year, $7 million deal in Free Agency and also selected RB DeWayne McBride in the draft to further build out their running back stable.

All of their actions this offseason point to not wanting to pay Cook the $10.4 million he’s owed in 2023.

The Vikings have reportedly shopped him around throughout the offseason, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for him right now:

“The Vikings, for now, have been willing to hold on to his $14 million cap hit, but once June 1 hits, they can save $9 million on the cap if they do release him. Now, I know Cook is training in South Florida right now, he’s been cleared off that torn labrum surgery to start to do some running and explosive work. He loves Minnesota but if they do move on, he’s open to a fresh start. Miami could be one to watch. He’s from Miami, they were linked to Dalvin Cook once upon a time in the offseason.”

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler

I’m personally skeptical the Dolphins would be interested in Cook despite the serendipitous Miami connection. The team spent a third round pick on Devon Achane and also re-signed both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. in Free Agency.

The teams I’d keep an eye on the most would be the Cowboys–depending on what happens with Zeke–and the Chiefs, who are perpetually in the market for a capable RB.

The real question is how much does any of this matter for fantasy, though. Cook clocks in at Tier 6 in Dwain’s RB Tiers:

After 21.2 and 23.1 point-per-game campaigns in 2019 and 2020, Cook has slowed down over the last two seasons with outputs of 14.7 and 13.4. His efficiency as a runner has held firm, but his TPRR and YPRR numbers have tumbled since Justin Jefferson’s emergence.

Dwain McFarland

I’ve personally not been selecting Cook much in early drafts, even though his Round 6 price tag is fairly reasonable.

When you factor in his play tailing off, a long history of injuries, and very few “clean” depth charts where he could project for 15+ carries a game, I’d prefer to take a wait-and-see approach. There just aren’t too many landing spots other than the Chiefs that would cause his ADP to rise in a big way.

OverReaction Monday

We're humans who play fantasy football, which means we are prone to overreact. Today, Kendall explains who could surprise in 2023...

It’s time for another round of playoff musical chairs. It feels like in recent seasons we’ve seen teams rise from the depths of despair and usher in a (hopefully) new era to their city. So, since we’ve got nothing but time on our hands let’s go through some non-playoff teams that we could expect to see in the playoffs this season and vice-versa, which teams could be out?

Detroit Lions

This seems almost too obvious, but let’s break down why the Lions are a good bet to make the playoffs this season. First, the wicked witch of the north is gone — Aaron Rodgers’ departure really leaves the door open for the Lions to finally lock in a playoff spot. The team was SO close last year after finishing the season 9-8 and now the expectations are lofty for the trendy Lions.

The team saw a six-game improvement in 2022, so the foundation is there. Dan Campbell is a favorite for Coach of the Year this season and it seems like things are falling into place. But getting from good to great? That’s a tough jump. The spotlight is firmly focused on Detroit, and this young team can get it done in 2023.

Overreaction Monday

New Orleans Saints

Look, it’s no secret that the NFC South is pretty gross. If you take this angle from the quarterback and veteran perspective, then right now Derek Carr is the best in the division. The NFC South will be the first division starting entirely new quarterbacks since the AFC West in 1973. Here’s how the rest of the division looks:

  • Falcons: Desmond Ridder

  • Panthers: Bryce Young

  • Buccaneers: Baker Mayfield

Young is going to live up to the hype, but to expect him to do so with a Panthers team that has overhauled a lot this offseason is a tall task. The Saints went 5-6 in one-score games in 2022 and still have a strong roster around their new quarterback. Give me Carr with Chris Olave, a healthy Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara with Jamaal Williams and let’s see what can happen.

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🛫 The RB with no one in his way. Matthew explains.

🏆 The Top 5 WRs in the league…according to Davante Adams. Some big snubs here.

💀 Is there a WR dead zone this year? Ian shares when to pivot to RBs.

🤹 Anthony Richardson's hidden talent. What can't he do??

✂️ Cleveland done with Kareem Hunt? Sounds like it.

💥 The most explosive RBs in the league. And the ones with the most negative plays.

Way Too Early Header

We know, we know...Week 1 is a ways away, but if you want to get an edge in the betting markets you need to be one step ahead. Today, Matt LaMarca looks at a game he likes...

  • 💰 Pick: Colts +3.5 (-110; BetMGM)

Most of the Week 1 lines have not seen a ton of sharp activity, which makes sense with nearly four months to go before kickoff. That said, this matchup is an exception. The sharps have already shown some interest in the Colts, which has driven this number from +4.0 down to +3.5. The public will more than likely be on the trendy Jaguars in this spot, so this could be an early “sharps vs. squares” showdown.

Jacksonville took a step forward by winning the division last year, and they were able to put together a massive comeback victory over the Chargers in the postseason.

I’m still not ready to anoint them as the next big thing just yet.

betting first look way too early

Specifically, Trevor Lawrence has become a bit overhyped. There are plenty of casual fans who want to put him in the same conversation as guys like Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, and while Lawrence might get there eventually, he’s not there yet.

Lawrence put together a solid stretch midseason in 2022, but he quietly came crashing back to reality. He averaged just 6.76 adjusted yards per attempt over the final three games of the regular season, and he was even worse in the postseason.

Ultimately, Lawrence still has to prove that he’s a QB that can get his team to the postseason perennially.

Additionally, the Jaguars spent big in free agency two years ago, which tends to lead to a lot of wins in Year 1. However, those teams often regress in Year 2, so it will be interesting to see how Jacksonville will perform in 2023.

Meanwhile, the Colts have had a talented roster for the past few seasons but have lacked consistent QB play. They will look to change that with Anthony Richardson in 2023, who is arguably the most dynamic athlete that the QB position has ever seen.

Even as a rookie, he will give defensive coordinators nightmares, and the Colts seem committed to getting Richardson as many reps as possible, so there’s a very real chance that he will start Week 1.

Ultimately, this feels like a great spot to sell high on the overrated Jaguars and buy low on a potentially overlooked Colts squad.

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