Ladies and gentlemen, members of the fantasy football jury. If it pleases the court I will now present the evidence as to why Dalvin Cook will outperform his fellow rookie running backs, Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffery, and Leonard Fournette in the upcoming season.
All four of these men are extremely talented but I will show by a preponderance of the evidence why Cook’s ADP should be above the others mentioned here and why he will provide your fantasy team with more points.
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Exhibit A: Offensive lines
Pro Football Focus grades the Cincinnati Bengals as the 31st best offensive line in the league. Yes, that’s out of 32. Andrew Whitworth (LA Rams) and Kevin Zeitler (Cleveland Browns) have moved on. You can’t lose forty percent of your starters, and not expect some drop-off. Joe Mixon is a tremendous talent but can’t run if there’s nowhere to go.
The Carolina Panthers have a solid line and took steps to improve the weak spots at tackle by signing Matt Kalil and drafting Taylor Moton. The offensive line will not hold back McCaffrey.
The Jacksonville Jaguars traded for help at left tackle in Branden Albert. That was fine until Albert retired from football the first week of training camp. Now the Jaguars will likely use rookie Cam Robinson at left tackle. A definite blow.
Admittedly this wasn’t a very good group last year. Three starters were out due to injury. Two of those starters (Matt Kalil and Andre Smith) signed elsewhere and the third, Jake Long, retired. I still think this will be a much-improved group. The Vikings signed Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff, two proven veterans and drafted a center, Pat Elflein in the third round.
Exhibit B: Goal Line touches
Putting the ball in the end zone is what wins ball games and scores fantasy points. Matt Asiata and his six rushing touchdowns have moved on to Detroit. Cook will be the main guy inside the red zone. Sam Bradford threw two touchdown passes to running backs and yes, Kyle Rudolph, (seven touchdowns last year) will get some targets and he should, but Cook will have more than enough work here.
Mixon will have to compete not only with a top flite TE in Tyler Eifert but a bruising Jeremy Hill for goal line opportunities. The Bengals had seventeen rushing touchdowns last year. Hill had nine of those and quarterback Andy Dalton had four. Dalton threw one touchdown pass to a running back.
McCaffery also has another running back in Johnathan Stewart that rushed for nine touchdowns and his quarterback, Cam Newton ran it over the goal line five times. Carolina only totaled sixteen rushing touchdowns for the year. Newton, like Dalton, threw one touchdown pass to a running back last year.
Fournette doesn’t have that direct competition from another runner unless Chris Ivory turns back the clock a couple of years. The Jaguars as a team only had eight rushing touchdowns. Three each by Ivory and Blake Bortles.
No running back had more than one touchdown receiving. The same number that Bortles himself had. Fournette should improve the Jags here.
Exhibit C: Opposing defenses
Strength of schedule is an important and often underrated element of fantasy football. Let’s start here with Fournette. He does have six games against defenses that finished in the bottom eight. Including games against San Francisco and Cleveland who gave up the most fantasy points to running backs in the league. However, he also plays against five teams that were ranked in top six in fantasy points allowed. Tennessee twice, Seattle, Arizona, and Baltimore. That path is not as easy as it first appears.
Mixon has a similar challenge. With six games against the bottom defenses and four tough matchups with the top defenses. In five other games the defenses, while not elite against running backs are rated in the top half of the league.
McCaffery has a much easier schedule. He only faces two defenses in the top eight and four in the bottom eight. McCaffrey should pile up the yardage between the twenty-yard lines.
Cook has the easiest schedule of the players mentioned here. Only one game against a stud defense, (Baltimore) and four games against the weakest.
Ladies and gentlemen of the fantasy football jury here is my evidence. May you make the correct decision…and win your league because of it.