At a time like this, it’s clear what the Minnesota Vikings need.
Just like those obnoxious seagulls in “Finding Nemo,” they need a running back to shout out “mine!” and make the backfield theirs.
Well, that’s not what the Vikings need. But it’s what fantasy football players would like.
During Monday’s 20-17 win in Chicago, Jerick McKinnon bested Latavius Murray 16-12 in carries and outgained him in rushing yards 95-31.
McKinnon tied for the team lead in receptions (six) and turned that into 51 yards; that’s 146 combined rushing and receiving yards for McKinnon for those of you counting.
The fourth-year back made his claim for more touches this Sunday vs. Green Bay and moving forward, after it was expected that Murray and his $15 million contract would take on more of a lead role.
But after the former Oakland Raider produced a meager 2.6 yards per carry vs. the Bears, it opened the door for McKinnon – who showed the kind of explosiveness that had some projecting bigger things for him.
“The only time McKinnon was better was all the way back on Sept. 28, 2014,” Star Tribune Vikings reporter Ben Goessling wrote Tuesday, “when he posted 152 yards as a rookie while defenses were still trying to figure out the former college quarterback’s running style.”
With his performance, the Vikings can’t ignore McKinnon. But they can’t ignore Murray either.
McKinnon (5-9, 205 pounds) isn’t built to run between the tackles or carry the rock on the goal line. Murray (6-3, 230 pounds) isn’t known for his hands or fleet-footedness.
The two complement each other well.
That leaves the Vikings open to needing both players on a weekly basis – with their usage varying by game circumstances.
And that creates a fantasy football nightmare.
Thanks Obama! (I mean, Dalvin Cook’s ACL, which he had surgery for on Monday.)
Games where the Vikings are in many short-yardage or goal-line situations and ahead and looking to run time off the clock should favor Murray.
Games where the Vikings are trailing and forced into more pass-happy situations should favor McKinnon.
Bad run defenses period shouldn’t show much favoritism to either.
The situation also makes the Vikings prone to just riding the hot hand.
Sunday vs. Green Bay is a rivalry game against a high-octane offense. The rivalry side favors a tighter matchup and Murray. The high-octane side favors McKinnon.
Fantasy Pros paints a much clearer picture.
McKinnon slides in at No. 21 in standard scoring, 22nd in PPR; Murray is at 35 in standard, 38 in PPR.
That pegs McKinnon as roughly a must-start No. 2 running back in 10-team leagues with at least two running back spots and Murray as pretty much a non-starter.
Feel better about McKinnon in PPR and Murray in leagues that favor touchdowns – in our Star Tribune league, for example, running backs get six points for a rushing touchdown but just one point per 20 yards, not the usual 10.
Start or sit: Sit both, if you can. I want to watch this situation unfold for another week.
Want to talk more fantasy football? E-mail Mike at email@example.com or heckle him on Twitter @mike_e_nelson.