1Near-elite upside if Dalvin Cook misses time
Aided by the third-best broken-tackle rate amongst RBs (one every 9.6 carries), Alexander Mattison last year proved once again that he’s an elite RB handcuff with strong top-12 potential as a starter. In fact, no other running back has been in the top eight in broken-tackle rate in each of these past three seasons. It’s a remarkable testament to his talent, and it’s one reason why he earned two of the Vikings’ top three RB fantasy performances (and three of the top six) last year despite starting only four games. However, after this season, Mattison will be a free agent, meaning the Vikings have to decide what to do with him by midseason. If they somehow trade him to a team that just lost its bell cow for the rest of the season, Mattison could become an instant top-12 RB with near-elite upside.
2X-factor: Cook’s health
How healthy will Dalvin Cook be in 2022, his age-27 campaign? Cook’s track record suggests Mattison realistically could start anywhere from two to five contests this season. Mattison’s overall ceiling, therefore, can be tied to Cook’s health. A mostly healthy Cook could keep Mattison outside the top 35. If Cook plays in only 10-12 games, Mattison almost certainly would crack the top 30, with a shot at the top 24.
3Handcuff or glorified handcuff?
What is Mattison’s standalone value when Cook is starting? This is a major factor driving Mattison’s value. He averaged an incredible 26.3 touches per game in four starts last season but only 5.1 as a backup. For context, fellow backup Tony Pollard averaged 11.3 touches per game last year, helping to propel him into the top 30. If Mattison can garner even seven to eight touches per contest with Cook on the field, he could achieve top-30 production even if Cook misses only one or two games.