Bo Mitchell and John Tuvey have roughly a half-century of experience in the fantasy football industry between them, authoring many leather-bound books on the topic. Co-hosts of “The Fantasy Football Party” podcast, Bo and 2V concocted this series to help you stay true to your Vikings fandom while dominating your fantasy league.
Being a Minnesota Vikings fan under the current regime means loving the run. And if you carry that love over to your fantasy team, you’ll want to load up with running backs.
Or maybe not. Maybe you bleed purple but need to feed your passing fancy in a way Mike Zimmer’s offense can’t. In that case, you view running backs as a necessary evil to be stockpiled in the later rounds.
In either case, you’d prefer to keep your fantasy football teams free of Vikings-related conflict at running back.
If you’re not so fortunate to have a pick that lands you Cook, you have options — to be spelled out for you right now.
TAKING A RUNNING BACK EARLY
You want an elite back, one of the four horsemen typically going off the draft board ahead of Cook. And you also want to duck the Vikings. To pull this off you’ll either need one of the first two picks or someone in your league who goes out of his or her way to buck tradition.
Saquon Barkley is the only one of these top four backs who won’t bump into the Vikings in 2020. And since Christian McCaffrey (Week 12) is the almost unanimous top overall pick, you should still be able to claim Barkley at No. 2.
The good news is, next man up is Cook — which allows you to indulge both your Vikings fantasy and your fantasy fantasy (no, not that one; the other one). After that, five of the next six backs off the board have Vikings-free schedules; among that group only Derrick Henry (Week 3) sees the Vikings this season.
Better dip while you can, because the RB2 pool isn’t quite as Vikings-free, with four of the next five and seven of the 12 RB2s (13-24) have Minnesota on their 2020 slate. This batch of backs is bookended by division rivals Aaron Jones at the top and David Montgomery at the bottom; in between are three AFC South backs plus Todd Gurley and Chris Carson.
MID-ROUND RUNNING BACKS
Whether you’re taking a second back in this vicinity or finally addressing the position after loading up elsewhere, you’ll have a free run through seven of the next eight backs on the typical draft board. The lone exception in this bonanza is another rookie, Detroit’s D’Andre Swift. And really, when’s the last time the Lions fielded a running back that mattered? It’s worth noting that Detroit hasn’t had a 100-yard rusher against the Vikings since Kevin Jones in 2004.
The back half of the middle tier of RBs is a 50/50 proposition, with half of RBs 37 through 48 bumping into the Vikings this season. To stay conflict-free you’ll be choosing from amongst a pair of Patriots (James White and Sony Michel); Miami’s Matt Breida, behind what’s projected to be the worst offensive line in the league; Phillip Lindsay, battling free-agent signee Melvin Gordon in Denver; Zack Moss, fighting Singletary for carries in Buffalo; and Tevin Coleman, who saw his fantasy stock get a bump when Raheem Mostert asked for a trade.
Also in this vicinity is Minnesota’s Alexander Mattison, the potential beneficiary statistically should yet another injury sideline Cook. In fact, Drew Mahowald believes Mattison will keep the stats churning if the Vikings are forced to go to the bullpen, so he’s more than just insurance.
WAITING ON RUNNING BACKS
We’ve reached the dart-throwing portion of the draft, and you’re either fishing for depth or tossing out a wide net in hopes of landing the next late-round savior.
Fortunately, you can direct your darts around Vikings-conflicted backups and third-down backs like AJ Dillon, Darrynton Evans, Carlos Hyde and Nyheim Hines. There aren’t many heartbreakers in that group.
Instead, feel free to target Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley, competing to spell Ekeler in LA; Antonio Gibson and Adrian Peterson doing the same behind Guice in Washington; potential Patriots goal line back Damien Harris; and Chase Edmonds in what is expected to be a resurgent Arizona offense. Plenty of wiggle room to go deep-sea fishing among those late-round options.
So whether you prefer to match Zim rush for rush or shrug off his ground assault and hark back to the “Three Deep” days with an aerial attack, there are plenty of backs to stack your fantasy roster with who won’t divide your loyalties with a date against the Vikings.