Dalvin Cook
With Latavius Murray sidelined, Dalvin Cook is establishing himself as the lead back for the Minnesota Vikings. Early indications are that Cook should be moving up draft boards. I have adjusted my preliminary rankings to put him in the top 15. The Vikings have been praising his pass protection, which is wonderful news if Cook wants to establish himself as a three-down back.
Cook was impressive in his three years at Florida State. As a freshman he ran for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns on a 5.9 yards per carry average. He followed that up with 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns on 7.4 ypc as a sophomore and 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns on 6.1 ypc as a junior.
Cook’s receiving totals increased every year also going from 22 catches for 203 yards to 24 catches for 244 yards to 33 catches for 488 yards.
Minnesota finished dead last this past season with 1,205 yards and 3.2 ypc. They were also one of seven teams that failed to reach double-digit rushing touchdowns. Clearly a change was needed.
Murray was solid last year with 788 yards on 4.0 ypc and 12 touchdowns, but Oakland had one of the league’s best offensive lines last season. Jalen Richard (5.9 ypc) and DeAndre Washington (5.4 ypc) had some impressive moments as well. He isn’t as dynamic as Cook though. I can see Murray getting a crack at goal line carries, but Cook should lead the team in touches and total yards.
How much do you like Cook?

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Le’Veon Bell Ezekiel Elliott David Johnson hurdle
With the NFL Draft behind us it is time to start thinking about next year’s fantasy football landscape. Here is an early look at running backs.
The Elite (Interchangeable)
1. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
3. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
The Rest
4. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
5. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
6. Jay Ajayi, Miami Dolphins
7. DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
8. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
9. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
10. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
11. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
12. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
13. Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
14. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers
15. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
16. Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders
17. Eddie Lacy, Seattle Seahawks
18. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos
19. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
20. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns
21. Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins
22. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons
23. Bilal Powell, New York Jets
24. Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints
25. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
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Lamar Miller Houston
A lot of the talk out of the Houston Texans’ camp has been the possibility of a monster season for running back Lamar Miller. The Houston Chronicle suggests that he will have a versatile role with the club in 2016, solidifying Miller as a major three-down back. Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman is saying that Miller is poised for a “season for the ages”.
Miller ran for 872 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015 with 47 catches for 397 yards and two touchdowns. In 2014 he ran for 1,099 yards and eight touchdowns with 38 catches for 275 yards and a score.
Miami ranked dead last in rushing attempts last year with 344 while Houston ranked fifth with 472.  In 2014 Miami ranked 22nd with 399 carries while Houston led the league with 551.
Miller will certainly get his opportunity. Houston trusted Alfred Blue to 183 carries, Chris Polk to 99 more and Jonathan Grimes to 56 of his own. Don’t look for Blue or Grimes to steal much of Miller’s work. His ability to pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield will help with the touches and add to his fantasy appeal.
In Houston’s first preseason game he ran for 30 yards on four carries. Don’t expect a heavy workload as we gear up towards the season, but once it’s go time, he will be on full display.
Miller’s career high in carries is 216. He has averaged 195.7 carries the past three seasons and sports a career yards per carry average of 4.6. If he can get 250 or more carries for the Texans to go along with 30-40 receptions, he should be in line for a massive season.
Personally, I have Miller just outside the top five, but I do have him slotted as a legit RB1 with major upside.

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Two young running backs that will be moving up the draft boards as we prepare for the 2010 season will be Felix Jones and LeSean McCoy. Jones put on a show at the end of the year for the Cowboys leading to the speculation that he’ll be the primary ball carrier in Big D next year. Meanwhile, the Eagles cut ties with Brian Westbrook, which eliminates any doubt as to who will be toting the rock in Philly next year. The question is, given the choice, which RB would you rather have.

It’s hard to deny that Felix Jones is the more explosive back of the two. He has speed for days and has the ability to break one each and every time he touches the ball. He averaged with 5.9 yard per carry during the regular season and jumped that up to 7.2 ypc during the playoffs. I’d like to see him more involved in the passing game as he had just 19 receptions during the regular season and 4 in the playoff games when he was playing a larger role with the offense.

LeSean McCoy didn’t exactly light things up this year despite Brian Westbrook’s absence for the bulk for the year. He had just four games with 55+ rushing yards. He did supplement his total yardage with 40 receptions for 308 receiving yards. McCoy finished with 945 total yards (637 rushing, 308 receiving), 4 TDs, and a 4.1 ypc.

Both have a ton of potential, but find themselves in situations that are far from ideal. Felix Jones, barring a trade of Tashard Choice or Marion Barber III, finds himself in a three-back rotation. Even if he is the lead back, he’s going to yield carries and red zone touches. LeSean McCoy, at least at the moment, doesn’t have any direct competition. However, he finds himself in an offense that heavily favors the pass. Both situations have become the new model of the NFL. Passing and running back by committee are here to stay.

While I would be happy with either back, I give McCoy a slight edge.

Agree? Disagree? Let your voice be heard.

Click here to see my early 2010 NFL Running Back rankings.

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