Dalvin Cook Needs to Carry the Vikings' Offense to Beat the Chargers in Week 15 Matchup

Dalvin Cook rushed for 62 yards against the Lions.
Dalvin Cook rushed for 62 yards against the Lions. / Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Kirk Cousins is in the midst of the most efficient season of his career. He's even played like a fringe MVP candidate at times. But if the Minnesota Vikings want to beat the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15, they might need to rely more on Dalvin Cook than Cousins on Sunday.

While taking the ball out of Cousins' hands in a game that has serious playoff implications might seem counterintuitive, the Chargers have been remarkably difficult to throw against lately.

Los Angeles hasn't allowed an opposing quarterback to reach 220 passing yards since Week 8, holding those signal-callers to an average of 171.4 passing yards per contest during that five-week stretch.

It's not like they've played an easy schedule over the last five weeks, either. The Chargers have faced signal-callers like Aaron Rodgers (161 yards), Patrick Mahomes (182 yards) and Derek Carr (218 yards) during that span. On the year, Los Angeles is one of only four teams holding opposing quarterbacks below 200.0 passing yards per game (196.6).

If these trends hold true, then Cook, who has struggled recently, might need to carry the offense. He's averaged just 39.0 rushing yards on 12.7 per game over his last three, though he played fewer than 50 percent of the snaps in each of the last two, as he's looked a little banged up.

Still, the Chargers can be exploited on the ground. They rank No. 23 in Football Outsiders' rush defense DVOA rankings, and are among the league average in terms of rushing yards allowed per game (108.2, No. 16 in the NFL).

With Los Angeles' secondary playing at such a high level, Minnesota might need to feed the rock to Cook early and often on Sunday.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. 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.