The Duel

Dalvin Cook Fantasy Value High in Week 1 Thanks to Falcons' Struggles Against Receiving Backs

Jason Schandl
Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills
Minnesota Vikings v Buffalo Bills /

Dalvin Cook has teased the potential to be a top fantasy football running back through his first two NFL seasons, but an inability to stay healthy and a dip in efficiency in 2018 have left him as a boom-or-bust option for 2019.

Still, as one of the few potential workhorse backs in the league, he carries an average draft position (ADP) of RB10 into the 2019 season, per

One early piece of good news for Cook drafters is that he finds himself in a great spot to open the year, drawing a Week 1 matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.

Dalvin Cook Week 1 Fantasy Football Outlook

We can't always rely on defensive matchups remaining consistent season-to-season, but it's hard to ignore the fact that no team has given up more receptions to opposing RBs than the Falcons in any season since 2014.

Whether you want to attribute this to personnel or scheme (or more likely a combination of both), that's a significant trend, and it's proven more than exploitable in fantasy football.

In PPR leagues, the Falcons allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to RBs in 2018, 16th most in 2017, fourth most in 2016 and third most in 2015.

An every-down back, Cook has averaged 4.3 targets (to go with 13.8 carries) per game to start his NFL career. The Minnesota Vikings have shown that they aren't shy about leaning on him heavily through the air, and in 2018 he saw at least seven targets on three occasions, with at least five in half of his 10 full games. That should allow him to take full advantage of this matchup.

Kicking 2019 off in such a dreamy spot, we have Cook ranked sixth at RB in our Week 1 fantasy football rankings.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.