Sun, Dec 15, 2019

You never want the Fantasy playoffs to come down to injuries, but it happens every year. That’s why we’ve been telling you to add handcuffs for weeks, just in case the worst-case scenario happens. It’s not clear yet if the worst actually happened Monday night, but we witnessed the scary sight of Dalvin Cook leaving the game with a shoulder injury, from which he was unable to return.

The extent of the injury isn’t clear as of the end of the game, but Cook came out of the game and went straight to the locker room. And while he was able to return to the bench, he did not come back into the game. He appeared to injure the shoulder in the first half on a run that ended in a fumble, and then exited the game for good after a third-quarter fumble. Cook’s game ended with 29 yards on the ground and a touchdown, to go with three catches for 35 yards and the two fumbles.

Video of the play didn’t show a significant blow that might have led to the injury, but we obviously can’t say at this point how significant the issue is. It is possible Cook will be able to play in Week 14 against the Lions, a team he gashed for 142 rushing yards and 27.9 PPR Fantasy points back in Week 7. However, the Monday night game leaves him with one fewer day to get back to full strength. We’ll have to keep a close eye on his status throughout the week just in case this injury does linger, but there’s a pretty good chance we won’t know anything about his status for Week 14 before waivers run Tuesday night. Which pushes third-round rookie Alexander Mattison immediately to the top of the list of waiver wire priorities for Week 14.

Mattison is already rostered in 52% of CBS Fantasy leagues, and has been a weekly mainstay in Jamey Eisenberg’s Waiver Wire column, as well as Heath Cumming’s running back stashes. And for good reason. He probably won’t dominate work quite the same way Cook does — expect to see Ameer Abdullah in some passing situations — if he’s pressed into a starting role, but we know this is a Vikings team that wants to run the ball early and often, so he should have plenty of opportunity. And from what we’ve seen, he is more than capable of taking advantage of whatever opportunity he gets. 

Mattison entered Week 13 averaging 4.8 yards per carry on 82 rushes, and he ranked ninth among 46 players with at least 80 carries in yards per carry after contact, per Sports Info Solutions. That is in keeping with what he did in college, as he rushed for 1,415 yards as a junior at Boise State in 2018 and ranked seventh in the nation in broken tackles. And, while he hasn’t been used a ton as a pass catcher in his role as Cook’s understudy, he did catch 60 passes for 511 yards in his collegiate career — and he added four catches for 51 yards Monday night, mostly after Cook left the game.

Mattison isn’t a Dalvin Cook-level talent, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a potential league winner for Fantasy if Cook misses time. If it’s just one game, he gets a good matchup against the Lions and could help you move on in the first round of the playoffs; if Cook’s injury lingers beyond that, Mattison would be a must-start option for however long he is the starter. Hopefully we’ll find out more about Cook’s injury before waivers run, but as things stand, Mattison looks like the absolute top option to target, someone to empty your FAAB wallet for. It could be enough to bring a title home. 

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