The Minnesota Vikings over the last 15 years have always seemed to be great at the running back position. The likes of Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook have been the headliners for that, but no matter who has been back there, the Vikings have seemed to run the ball well. Only three times in the last 15 years have the Vikings finished outside the top 11 in team rushing yards. For a team with the amount of offensive line struggles that Minnesota has had, it is a huge testament to the talent in the Vikings backfield. This year though, it almost seems like there is too much talent.
Who are the Options to Backup Dalvin Cook?
The Minnesota Vikings have yet another great stable of running backs this year. Dalvin Cook is the leader and one of the top five best backs in the league, but who is second in command? The likes of Alexander Mattison, Ty Chandler, and Kene Nwangwu all look to take that backup role. Dalvin Cook is a guy who certainly has had his share of injuries in his past, so this position is an important one for the team.
The Case for Running Back Alexander Mattison
Alexander Mattison has been the main backup to Dalvin Cook the last three years in Minnesota. In that time, he has been one of the best backup running backs in the league. Last year in the three games in which he got over 20 carries, Mattison averaged 105 yards per game. Those are phenomenal numbers for a backup running back in the NFL. The problem is that he is almost too good. Alexander Mattison does not want to sit and backup Dalvin Cook for his entire career and he is justified in thinking that. Mattison is in a contract year, so the Vikings would like to get something for him, and Mattison would like to prove his worth before he hits the open market.
The Case for Running Back Kene Nwangwu
Kene Nwangwu burst onto the scene last year when he returned a kickoff for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens. Then, just three weeks later, he did it again against the San Francisco 49ers. His work in the backfield last year was very limited though. Nwangwu only had 13 carries for 61 yards in all of 2021. In the preseason, he didn’t get a ton of work either, at least none of notable success. While he is a great change of pace, likely will not be the leader in the clubhouse to take the majority of snaps if Dalvin Cook were to go down.
The Case for Running Back Ty Chandler
Ty Chandler was a fifth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft for the Minnesota Vikings. He has shown great potential all throughout the Vikings preseason. This preseason he tallied 15 carries for 113 yards across three games. While preseason should be taken with a little grain of salt, those are great stats for a rookie just entering the NFL. Especially one that was a fifth-round pick. While he may not be right at the level of Alexander Mattison right now, he is close enough that trading away the aforementioned Mattison makes a lot of sense.
Who Gets it?
There are two outcomes. Option one: Alexander Mattison gets traded and we see Ty Chander take the role with supplemental help from Kene Nwangwu. Option two: Alexander Mattison stays and is the lead number two back, while Chandler takes third in command with Nwangwu coming in as a spark in rare cases but mostly staying on special teams. The first option seems like the most likely option at this point. There are rumored to be up to 12 teams interested in Mattison, and it has been shown that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has not been afraid to make trades and change things up.