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How Good Is Dalvin Cook Handcuff, Alexander Mattison?

How Good Is Dalvin Cook Handcuff, Alexander Mattison?

by Mike Valverde

The Minnesota Vikings’ 5-foot-11, 221-pound rookie RB, Alexander Mattison, is proving to be a reliable hand-cuff to Dalvin Cook in his limited opportunities. He should be a high target for fantasy teams. As shown last week, Mattison carried the rock 14 times for 63 yards, out-gaining Dalvin Cook in 2 fewer attempts. Mattison busted one rush for 35 yards, but also turned the ball over late in the fourth quarter. Any fantasy owner hunting for Mattison is in luck as he is available in approximately 80-to-84 percent of leagues. A fantasy owner can also target him using the league FAAB budget. It is recommended to use around $7 out of a $200 allowance. Here are Mattison’s totals and ranks among the NFL from Expand the Boxscore.

Alexander Mattison is a three-star athlete out of San Bernardino. As an outstanding athlete, he ran for over 2,000 yards, while winning league titles in 110-meter hurdles and wrestling. Washington, Washington State, San Jose State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Colorado, Arizona State, and Boise State all attempted to recruit Mattison, but he chose the Broncos of Boise.

While at Boise State, Mattison excelled as a running back. As a freshman in 2016, Mattison played in all 13 contests (67 attempts, 328 yards, 4.9 YPC, 4 TDs).

In 2017, Mattison earned an honorable mention, as he put up over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on 212 carries in 14 games, starting only 9 of those contests. He earned first-team All-Mountain West honors in 2018, finishing top-10 in the nation in rushing attempts (302), rushing yards (1,415), and touchdowns (17). He put himself on the map in the Mountain West Championship game, rushing for 200 yards on 40 carries and scoring once against Fresno State. Mattison succeeded through the air, as well. In his three seasons, he brought down 60 receptions for 511 yards and 1 touchdown. Let’s take a look at his college stats via Expand The Boxscore.

Mattison decided to jet from college to the NFL a year early, and scouts projected him as a Day 3 selection. When Minnesota was up in the third round, they turned their sights to Mattison with the 102nd pick. The Vikings needed a replacement for the recently departed Latavius Murray (NO) and wanted comfort in case Cook went down with another injury.

The Vikings’ ownership was especially keen on Mattison’s north-south rushing skill-set, his capability to become a slot receiver, and his versatility in fly sweeps. Mattison wastes no time heading upfield once he has the ball in his hands. Prior to the Vikings drafting him, scouts knocked Mattison for two things. First, his 40-time came in at 4.67. That is slow for a running back of his size. Next, he struggles to protect the pocket when pass blocking. Mattison needs to do a better job of recognizing the pass rush and placing his hands in a better position to block defenders.

Overall, Mattison is a productive runner, patient with balance and aggressiveness when it comes to attacking the hole. He is a hybrid between Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, neither a slasher nor a bulldozer. Mattison is the type of RB that can be used in all situations, the perfect bell cow if needed.

Mattison does have stiffness in his hips, so do not look for Mattison to score too many long touchdown runs. He does not have the propulsion to take the ball outside or around the corners. However, he does have the strength to be used near the goal-line.

Thus far in 2019, Mattison is playing well. His 252 rushing yards on 48 attempts (5.3 yards per carry) is impressive. He even scored once. Mattison has not been able to showcase his receiving skills yet, only catching 1 pass for 8 yards. Check out Mattison’s game log from Expand The Boxscore.

“He goes out there, and he performs,” Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski said Thursday. “There’s not much of a drop off from one to two, which is a really good thing for us, and we’re looking to get him some work. He provides a similar, but different running style than Dalvin [Cook], so I think that’s always good when you’re attacking a defense to give them a slightly different look. But he’s a young player that I think is only going to get better. I applaud his effort and how he prepares.”

Stefanski goes on to explain how during Sunday Mattison can be used in the offense.

“We talk as a staff during the week and obviously on game day, but we have a plan, and we have a contingency plan, and then, ultimately, we have a number that we’re looking for both of those guys,” Stefanski said. “But as you know during the series, Dalvin rips one-off and he needs a blow. So, very quickly Alexander jumps in there and we don’t really change what we’re doing or change our mind-set. That’s really all Coach Polamalu, who I think does an outstanding job managing that.”

Mattison’s downside in fantasy football is that he is playing behind one of the best running backs in the league. His upside is that an injury to Cook could put him in a position to become one of the league’s best rushers. Cook isn’t a stranger to being injured. In his rookie season, he played in just 4 games (11 in 2018). Mattison is a stash for deep benches and a definite hand-cuff for those who own Cook.