The Vikings ‘Under the Radar’ Player from a National Lens

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) hands the ball off to running back Alexander Mattison (2) against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Longtime Minnesota Vikings RB1 Dalvin Cook was released on June 9th, a cap-saving measure by general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah amid his ‘competitive rebuild.’ The team’s RB2 from 2019 to 2022, Alexander Mattison, will take over as the top dog at running back this September.

That fact is pretty much out in the open.

The Vikings ‘Under the Radar’ Player from a National Lens

But don’t tell that to CBS Sports, an entity that ranked the NFL’s ‘under the radar’ players this week. Mattison represented the Vikings on Jeff Kerr’s list for 2023.

the Radar
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) reacts after losing a wildcard game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Kerr started with all the NFC’s under-the-radar talents on Thursday and explained Mattison’s nomination for the Vikings, “With the Vikings reportedly cutting ties with Dalvin Cook, Mattison will get the opportunity to prove he’s the No. 1 running back. Mattison had 100 carries for 462 yards and a touchdown last season (averaging 4.6 yards per carry).”

Mattison turned 25 last month and is younger than Ty Chandler and Kene Nwangwu, who are also halfbacks on the current roster.

The 2023 Vikings Free
Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) walks off the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

“Mattison was Cook’s backup the last four years, rushing for 1,670 yards and 11 touchdowns (averaging 4.1 yards per carry). The Vikings will get to see how Mattison can do as the featured back minus Cook, who has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons,” Kerr added.

For some, re-signing Mattison in March was a surprise. The 25-year-old was free to sign anywhere in the NFL, and with Cook still on Minnesota’s roster as free agency began, many believed Mattison would fetch a medium-sized contract elsewhere. But one of Adofo-Mensah’s first orders of business during free agency turned out to be Mattison’s retention.

Youngest Offseason
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (2) walks off the field after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Whether Mattison is currently ‘under the radar’ is debatable, though. The same website called Mattison a fantasy football ‘riser’ the day before Kerr published his under-the-radar players for 2023. Perhaps those not privy to Vikings football could be unfamiliar with Mattison’s resume, but for the last four months, it’s been advertised rather loudly that he’d take over RB1 duties this autumn.

Mattison said in May about remaining a Viking, “I’m happy. I love it here. I always tell people I wouldn’t rather play anywhere else. It’s just an unbelievable organization, an unbelievable locker room, a team full of amazing guys, amazing coaches and amazing staff, so I’m blessed to be back.”

Sep 13, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison (25) rushes with the ball in the second half against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports.

In 2022, Minnesota ranked 28th in rushing DVOA, 27th in rushing yards, and 26th in yards per rush attempt. Mattison will be tasked with helping to fix these naughty stats. The aforementioned Chandler and Nwangwu, plus the rookie DeWayne McBride, will vie for RB2 duties later this summer.

Vikings training camp kicks off in 17 days.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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