Christian McCaffrey is once again the consensus No. 1 overall pick in fantasy football this season. But once CMC is off the board, things get a lot murkier.
Fantasy managers picking 2-4 will likely be faced with a tough decision: should I go with Derrick Henry, or Dalvin Cook? Let's break it down.
Dalvin Cook Fantasy Outlook
Cook is coming off of the best year of his career. He racked up 1,918 yards from scrimmage with 17 touchdowns in just 14 games played. On a per-game basis, that's good for an average of 137.0 yards from scrimmage while scoring more than 1.0 TDs per outing. That outrageous production made him the overall RB2 in PPR formats, trailing only Alvin Kamara.
Assuming he stays healthy, there's no reason to expect a decline. He's the clear-cut workhorse in this backfield and the Minnesota Vikings should be a top-10 offense once again.
Cook also has one significant advantage over Henry: his role in the passing game. Cook turned 54 targets into 44 receptions for 361 yards and a score. Henry, meanwhile, turned 31 targets into 19 catches for 114 yards.
Derrick Henry Fantasy Outlook
Cook outscored Henry in PPR formats, but Henry was the superior option in standard-scoring leagues. Henry was the overall RB1 in standard-scoring leagues, while Cook slotted in as RB3. To be fair, though, Cook did average 21.0 fantasy points per game while Henry averaged 19.6. The difference was Cook's two missed games.
The biggest advantage Henry has over Cook, or maybe any fantasy asset, is what he does at the end of the season. Last year, King Henry averaged a whopping 177.5 rushing yards per game over his final four outings. He also averaged 149.3 rushing yards per game over his final six outings in 2019 and 146.3 rushing yards over his final four games in 2018.
He's significantly upped his production at the end of the season in each of the last three years. That's exactly what you want out of your first-round pick.
There is some downside here, though. The Titans added Julio Jones and switched offensive coordinators this offseason. If that results in a less run-heavy approach in Tennessee, Henry's value could take a real hit. And he's very unlikely to make up for it as a receiver.
Dalvin Cook or Derrick Henry
If you're playing in a PPR or 0.5 PPR league, Cook is the pick. The gulf between him and Henry as a pass-catcher is just too wide to ignore.
In a standard-scoring league, things get a bit tighter. Cook probably still has the edge, but Henry's end-of-year theatrics give fantasy managers something to consider.
Cook checks in as the RB2 in our 2021 fantasy football rankings, while Henry slots in as the RB4.
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