NFL Alexander Mattison will finally get the Spotlight in Minnesota

In a significant move, the Vikings ultimately decided to part ways with their star running back, Dalvin Cook, concluding a six-season tenure in Minnesota.

Cook’s departure was not due to a lack of performance, as the Pro Bowler consistently surpassed 1,100 rushing yards over the past four seasons. Rather, it was driven by the substantial financial implications. By releasing Cook after June 1, the team managed to free up $9 million in cap space for the current season and an additional $12.5 million for the following year, albeit with $5.1 million and $3.1 million in dead money over the next two years, respectively.

The Vikings’ roster is set to undergo significant changes in the upcoming season, as they also released wide receiver Adam Thielen and traded pass rusher, Za’Darius Smith which will affect their NFL Lines through the year.

NFL Player Alexander MatisonMattison Will Become the Vikings’ RB1

With Cook’s departure, the spotlight now falls on Mattison, presenting him with an opportunity to shine. Originally drafted in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Mattison primarily served as Cook’s backup, accumulating 1,670 rushing yards on 404 carries with 11 touchdowns throughout his four seasons. However, Mattison has yet to surpass 150 carries or breach the 500-yard mark in his career.

Now, the 25-year-old Mattison is expected to assume the role of the Vikings’ lead running back. Although he has only played eight games with 15 or more touches, he has demonstrated his fantasy potential in those outings. Specifically, he has recorded at least 15 fantasy points in six of those games, with five of them occurring in 2021. During those five games in 2021, Mattison displayed solid efficiency, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, 5.0 targets, 4.4 receptions, and 9.6 yards per catch. These performances serve as better indicators of his capabilities than his sporadic appearances, such as in 2022 when he received 10 or more touches just twice. However, it should be noted that these games also included a fair share of negative rushing plays, which have been a recurring aspect of his career.

Although Minnesota is expected to rely more heavily on a pass-oriented offense, potentially reducing Mattison’s workload, the coaching staff’s comments during the offseason suggest that they intend to grant him a similar workload to Cook.

During the offseason, the Minnesota Vikings secured Mattison’s services with a two-year, $7 million contract, signaling their plans to transition away from Cook and bestow a larger role upon the former Boise State back. While Mattison may not possess the same explosive abilities as Cook, he excels as a north-south runner who can reliably gain necessary yardage, maintaining a career average of 4.1 yards per attempt. From the perspective of Minnesota and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Mattison represents a more cost-effective option compared to the high-priced Cook.

There is also potential for Ty Chandler and rookie seventh-round pick DeWayne McBride to earn regular touches, although Kene Nwangwu primarily fulfills a special-teams role, leaving the Vikings with limited proven depth behind Mattison. While the team may still bolster their backfield before Week 1, Mattison presently stands before a significant opportunity.

What to Expect from Minnesota Next Season?

Impressively, the Minnesota Vikings dominated the NFC North last season, securing a 13-4 record and being an NFL Odds darling. However, despite this achievement, the Vikings stumbled in the Wild Card Round against the New York Giants, while their overall point differential for the season remained at a negative three.

Taking these factors into account, it wouldn’t be surprising to witness some regression for the Vikings in the upcoming 2023 season. The question is, to what extent?

It is highly unlikely for the Vikings to replicate their 13-win feat. However, achieving nine or ten victories seems within reach, especially considering the mediocrity within the NFC North. Detroit Lions are presently favored to conquer the division, and the Green Bay Packers may experience a noticeable decline without Aaron Rodgers. Minnesota may indeed have exhausted a significant amount of luck by emerging victorious in an extraordinary number of closely contested games last season. Nevertheless, it’s important to acknowledge that the Vikings accomplished this while ranking a lowly 31st in total defense. Any progress made on the defensive front will place the team in a favorable position to flirt with double-digit victories.