Patrick Daugherty

The Morning After

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Dalvin Cook's Season-Ender

Monday, October 2, 2017


It was a brutal week for injuries, easily the worst of the season. None sting worse than Dalvin Cook’s torn ACL. The No. 41 overall pick of the draft, Cook entered Week 4 as the league’s No. 2 rusher behind fellow rookie Kareem Hunt. Cook had been doing it all, sustaining drives (4.78 yards per carry), busting big plays (five gains of at least 20 yards) and finding the end zone (two touchdowns). He had made Latavius Murray expendable, limiting the $3.4 million free agent signing to seven touches through three games. Cook was not only helping to keep the offense afloat in the absence of Sam Bradford, he was doing the near impossible: Making Vikings fans forget about Adrian Peterson.


All this after Cook’s pre-draft process didn’t go as planned. A solidly built 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, Cook flashed 4.49 speed at the Combine, but otherwise flunked the measurables test. Struggling in the three-cone drill (7.27), 20-yard shuttle (4.53), vertical jump (30.5") and broad jump (9'8"), Cook graded out as a ninth-percentile SPARQ athlete, putting him behind just about everybody. The numbers were in direct opposition to the explosive-play threat on Cook’s college film — film that led some to compare him to Jamaal Charles — leaving teams with a tough choice: Trust the math or tape? The Vikings went with the tape, and were rewarded with a new three-down back.


Now they’re back to square one, and will be rolling with a committee of Murray and Jerick McKinnon. (That’s provided McKinnon is healthy after tweaking his ankle against the Lions.) Murray will reclaim his Raiders role, grinding between the tackles. McKinnon will catch passes and change the pace on early downs.


Cook? He’ll try to take the Charles comparison one step further and come back stronger than ever after shredding his knee. Charles was 25 when he completed his first ACL comeback. Cook will be 23 next Week 1. Despite the popular perception, ACL recoveries still are not automatic, but Cook at least has the time to be ready for 2018. He’s a missed opportunity in re-draft leagues, but the strongest of holds in Dynasty.


Five Week 4 Storylines


Derek Carr’s back injury. Struggling through a tough matchup against the Broncos, Carr got his back bent in concerning fashion in the third quarter. He laid on the field like a mummy before slowly making his way up and to the locker room. Coach Jack Del Rio claimed it was little more than a case of back spasms, but Carr said he was still in a great deal of pain afterward. He made no grand pronouncements about his Week 5 status. He’s undergoing an MRI. It’s quite possible Carr misses time. If so, a team that’s already in deep trouble will officially be in shambles. The Raiders can’t run the ball and are struggling on defense. Michael Crabtree is injured. The Raiders’ need for their quarterback could not be more acute.      


Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu departing against Buffalo. Jones entered Week 4 battling a back injury. He exits with a hip ailment, one that held him out for the entire second half of Sunday’s stunning home loss to the now 3-1 Bills. Jones had three grabs for 30 yards before going down. There is good news. It’s not an overly serious issue, and the Falcons are on bye for Week 5. Sunday was a killer for fantasy owners who took the first-round plunge, but could also be the end of it. Sanu’s situation is less certain, as he’s battling a hamstring injury. Anyone who has played fantasy football for more than five minutes knows hamstring problems have a tendency to linger. Taylor Gabriel, Nick Williams and Justin Hardy are the next men up for the Falcons.  


Marcus Mariota departing with a hamstring issue. This was pretty much the only way the Titans’ blowout loss to the Texans could have gone worse. Mariota was in distress on the sideline, though lipreading a player moments after injury is not an accurate barometer of how much time they might miss. But again, you don’t need Rotoworld to tell you that hamstring ailments are often multi-week affairs. If Mariota misses time, it will be for the third time in as many years as Titans quarterback. The timing couldn’t be worse for fantasy owners, who have suffered through Mariota’s slow start as he made his way through a difficult portion of the schedule. On tap for Weeks 5-7? Miami, Indianapolis and Cleveland, then the Titans’ bye. In a worst-case scenario, Mariota misses the soft part of the schedule and returns in Week 9.    


Cam Newton coming back from the dead against the Patriots. Last week we led off with Newton’s struggles after he flopped in a golden spot against the Saints. History did not repeat itself against the Pats, who have supplanted the Saints as the league’s worst defense. The biggest difference was the return of Newton’s confidence. He no longer appeared reluctant to throw beyond the sticks, and after some initial hesitance, began to run like the Newton we’ve seen since 2011. There were still hitches in Newton’s game. His lack of feel was evident on some of his deeper passes. He doesn’t have his usual drive. He does have his usual swag, which is half the battle with any player. How can you perform well if you’re not expecting to? Newton’s revival will be put to an immediate test against the Lions’ upstart defense in Week 5.   


Melvin Gordon generates just 29 yards on 11 touches. Playing through a knee injury, Gordon set a season low for touches by six. Gordon was still on the field for 42-of-57 snaps, but his usage in a game that was close throughout suggests he isn’t anywhere close to full health. The same is true of his 2017 effectiveness, as he’s now averaging a pitiful 3.11 yards through 54 carries. The Giants are not a stay-away Week 5 matchup, though the Bolts will be trekking across the continent. The formerly workload-based RB1 is probably best treated as an RB2 until further notice.


Don't forget, for the latest on everything NFL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, or follow @Rotoworld_FB or @RotoPat on Twitter.



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Patrick Daugherty is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Patrick Daugherty



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