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Frey’s Fantasy Focus: How Will Mattison Do as Cook’s Replacement?

With Dalvin Cook most likely out for this week’s matchup with Atlanta, Alexander Mattison is set to take over the reigns in the backfield. However, there seems to be many questions surrounding how he will do as RB1 for the Vikings. Let’s take a look at some numbers and project his and some other teammates’ fantasy points against the Falcons. 


Kirk Cousins

ESPN Projection: 16.7

Yahoo Projection: 19.2

Josh’s Projection: 17.4


I think Cousins is going to land somewhere in the middle of the two sites’ projections, but I am very concerned about him going under ESPN’s projection. I thought if there was a week for him to get huge yardage numbers, last week would be that week. However, he still only threw for 249 yards. 


The Vikings seem to have set their blueprint in place, and that blueprint is to run the ball and rack up time of possession to protect their defense. The only argument I can make for Cousins getting more pass attempts this week is that Mike Zimmer hasn’t fully bought in on Mattison being able to keep the engine running. That didn’t seem to be the case though, as Mattison had 20 carries. 


The one saving grace for Cousins here is the fact that Atlanta has given up a league-worst 15 passing touchdowns this season and 1679 passing yards. There is a much lower chance for turnovers than last week against Seattle. As I mentioned in last week’s projection, the Seahawks are one of the better teams at generating turnovers; meanwhile, the Falcons have just two interceptions through five games. 


Touchdowns will probably save his point total this week, but if I were you, I’d keep Cousins on the bench this week unless your quarterback is on bye.


Alexander Mattison 

ESPN Projection: 15.8

Yahoo Projection: 14.0

Josh’s Projection: 13.3


Like I said earlier, Mattison should be trusted to drive the bus this week for the Vikings. Last week,against one of the league’s better run defenses, he averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 20 rush attempts. 110-120 yards is probably a good benchmark to expect for his rushing numbers. 


I do have one knock on his game last week that may continue into this weekend. Of his 44 carries this season, only one has been for a touchdown. He had zero last week even as he dragged the offense down the field for much of the second half, and the most notable was his carry on fourth and inchesthe end of the game that got stuffed due to his bad decision making. 


He may have a ton of ability from the position, but I’m not sure he has the awareness and agility that Cook owns to get himself into the endzone on a regular basis. This will knock his point totals down a bit, which is why I don’t think he will quite reach the projections that the two sites have. 


If you were lucky enough to get Mattison on your roster, definitely consider him an RB2 with RB1 potential. 


Adam Thielen

ESPN Projection: 12.3

Yahoo Projection: 12.1

Josh’s Projection: 15.6


Thielen had his second multi-touchdown game of the season last week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got at least two scores again this week. The Falcons have not had a game this season without allowing at least 90 yards to an opposing receiver, so this matchup bodes very well for Thielen this week. 


As mentioned earlier, the Falcons have given up 15 passing touchdowns this year, and that puts them on a pace to give up 48 this season. The NFL record is 45 touchdowns allowed by the Saints in 2015. 


Consider Thielen a strong WR1 this week. 


Justin Jefferson

ESPN Projection: 7.8

Yahoo Projection: 8.1

Josh’s Projection: 6.7


Jefferson had his lowest yardage total of his young career last week, catching three passes for 23 yards. I don’t see him reaching high point totals this week simply because he has not proven to be a red zone threat yet. 


He might be good for one or two deep balls since Atlanta has been terrible against the pass, but again, I really see the Vikings relying on Mattison until they get into the red zone. 


He probably should be a borderline flex player this week. 


Irv Smith Jr.

ESPN Projection: 2.8

Yahoo Projection: 1.9

Josh’s Projection: 5.4


I wanted to include Smith this week for a few reasons. Last week, he emerged as Kirk Cousins’ second favorite target, having five passes thrown his way. He caught four of them for 64 yards, and it was a new element of the passing game that we hadn’t seen much of this season. 


The Falcons have been one of the worst defenses against tight ends this year, giving up a whopping eight touchdowns against them. I would think it is at least possible that Smith comes out of this week with a touchdown catch and a similar number of targets.

Josh Frey

Graduate of The College of Idaho '20 with a Bachelor's in Creative Writing and competed on both the cross country and track and field teams. Lifelong NFL, NBA, and MLB fan, and now just trying to share that passion with the world.

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