In fantasy football, even in PPR leagues, running backs reign supreme. The value of pass catching running backs is always incredibly high. As a result, it’s extremely important to make sure you hit on your first-round pick. For the 2020 season, Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook are regarded as two of the top RBs in fantasy.
Both have had recent injuries, along with a few changes to the weapons that surround them. Kamara and Cook are also both being selected in the first round of fantasy drafts, due to their abilities to also thrive in the passing game.
But which player should you draft? Which RB should you take in fantasy, Alvin Kamara or Dalvin Cook?
Alvin Kamara Fantasy Outlook
ADP: RB3, 3rd Overall
One of the biggest pros for drafting Kamara is just how good of a receiver out of the backfield he is. Over his first three years, Kamara has over 2,000 yards in both receiving and rushing. He’s also tacked on 10 receiving touchdowns, so he isn’t just picking up yards without hitting paydirt.
This part of his game makes it a real risk for defenses to try to stack the box to stop the run. When you add in Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees and record-breaking receiver Michael Thomas, he has weapons all around him that stop defenses from being able to focus solely on stopping him. All of this just adds to his value and consistency in fantasy.
For as good of a RB as Kamara has been, he does have questions surrounding his health. Last season, ankle and knee injuries kept Kamara out of Week 7 and 8. According to Kamara’s own tweets, he was playing on one leg and at 75 percent last season. Saints RB coach Joel Thomas said the injuries he had to play through were much worse than people could really see at the surface.
The concerning question that fantasy owners about Kamara is whether or not these injuries will continue to affect him. When he was at Alabama in 2012, he was forced to redshirt when he suffered a knee tear in August. In 2016 at Tennessee, he suffered some LCL and meniscus damage to his left knee. Even though he says he is at 100 percent, could playing through those injuries last year lead to his body breaking down on him? While four injuries over seven years of football isn’t cause for concern in itself, all of them being knee and ankle-based could be problematic.
A problem that rarely emerges for running backs, especially pass catching backs, is being surrounded by too much talent. For Kamara, however, this could be a real issue that could cost him a couple of points weekto week. Everyone knows just how good Brees and Thomas are. However, the Saints also signed wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason and will likely feature Taysom Hill even more than last year.
With a capable Latavius Murray as Kamara’s backup, he could see touchdowns taken away at the goal line as well. While defenses can’t make him their featured target, can the Saints feature him, with so many other guys?
Dalvin Cook Fantasy Outlook
ADP: RB4, Fourth Overall
Dalvin Cook finally exploded into the superstar that Vikings faithful have been waiting, last season. He rushed for over 1,100 yards while adding over 500 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns. He did this despite missing two games due to a late season shoulder sprain where the Vikings decided to have him rest for the playoffs.
Cook was a bell cow for the Vikings and looks to be in line for the same role this year. There is no way around it, Cook was one of the most effective RBs in the league and has been showing flashes since becoming a pro. The problem that has plagued Cook since his first season, however, has been his durability.
Before the NFL, Cook had suffered two shoulder labrum tears in college. While he was durable in college outside of those injuries, paired with the shoulder sprain he suffered late last year, small red flags might start to go up soon about his shoulders and more importantly his ability to hold on to the football.
In his rookie season, Cook tore his ACL. In his sophomore season, Cook missed a total of five games due to two separate pulled hamstrings. While his shoulder sprain this past season and his two pulled hamstrings the season prior aren’t too severe, it brings up the question of whether or not he can stay on the field for a full season.
When Stefon Diggs was traded to the Bills, alarm bells should have been going off on those looking to draft, or use keepers on, Dalvin Cook for the 2020 season. This Vikings team that was already heavily reliant on Cook just became even more one dimensional. There is no denying the abilities of receiver Adam Thielen, but there are plenty of question marks on Kirk Cousins and a receiving corps where rookie Justin Jefferson is the number two option.
Cousins showed against the Saints in last year’s playoffs just how good he can be. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to do that consistently. If defenses stack the box against Cook and Cousins can’t take advantage, Cook is in trouble. He will have much more focus on him. Cook’s abilities in fantasy may depend on his quarterback much more than many think. With a less potent defense as well, Cook will have a tougher time getting back on the field, controlling possession, and that’s assuming he’s able to stay healthy.
Fantasy Verdict: Alvin Kamara
This pick was not an easy one and it is very close. However, I think many teams found the blueprint to beating the Vikings is shutting down the run. If you need proof, look back at the losses Minnesota suffered at home to Green Bay and in the playoffs to San Francisco. Cook’s injuries concern me and, while Kamara will have a harder time getting targets in the passing game, that also means he will find himself in a lot of one-on-one situations where he can use his speed and elusiveness to get opens.
In addition, he plays in a division which has much weaker defenses than those in the NFC North. In this toss-up decision, I have to go with what I know, which is why I have to go with Alvin Kamara for fantasy. I can trust Drew Brees. Dalvin Cook’s durability and Kirk Cousins’ consistency: is that really something you’re willing to bank your fantasy season on?