Dalvin Cook is a magician, and not just because of what he could do with the football in his hands.

 

Through three games he made Latavius Murray all but disappear.

But now the former Oakland Raider should reappear in a big way in the Vikings offense, after a torn ACL Sunday ended Cook’s season.

It’s a magic trick Vikings fans would like undone, as would Cook’s fantasy football owners.

Cook finished his rookie season with 354 yards rushing on 74 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and two rushing touchdowns. He added 11 receptions for 90 yards.

His rushing yards total was second only to Adrian Peterson for most by a Viking through his first four NFL games.

That put him on pace for roughly 1,416 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns and 44 receptions for 360 yards in 16 games.

OK Latavius, let’s see what you’ve got.

“I think he'll be able to carry the load,” Star Tribune Vikings reporter Ben Goessling wrote in his chat Tuesday. “I don't think he'll be as dynamic as Dalvin Cook, though. … Before they drafted Cook, Murray was expected to be the main guy. We'll see if it works.” 

Murray played 19 snaps to Jerick McKinnon’s 10 Sunday, suggesting he has the early edge on playing time. There are also $15 million reasons for him to have a leg up on McKinnon, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

If Murray for some reason survived waivers in your league, scoop him up. He’s not going to replicate Cook’s versatility and explosion, but the opportunity is there.

At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Murray is built to run between the tackles. While rushing for 788 yards on 195 carries last season, he snuck past the goal line 12 times in 14 games. The year before that, he eclipsed 1,000 yards.

There’s talent here; there’s also injury concern.

Goessling reported Monday that Murray’s right ankle still doesn’t feel normal after the surgery he had in March:

“It’s not going to quite feel the same for a while,” he said. “I knew that dealing with my previous ankle procedure [on his left ankle in 2013]. But for me, it’s being well enough to be out there and help the team. I don’t know when that day will come [that I feel 100 percent]. I feel good enough to be out there and be confident in myself, that I can play at a high level.”

That high level won’ have people mistaking him for Cook coming out of the backfield – Murray has never scored a receiving touchdown in three-plus NFL seasons.

The pass catching will be McKinnon’s forte.

If he can stay on the field, Murray should be the lead guy. It just won’t be a feature role like Cook had.

Murray checks in on FantasyPros as the No. 29 RB in PPR and No. 23 in standard, while McKinnon’s at No. 37 in PPR and No. 39 in standard for this week. For rest of season, Murray is No. 41 in PPR, No. 38 in standard; McKinnon is 47th in standard, 38th in PPR.

Start or sit in Week 5: Start Murray as an RB2 or Flex in 10-team leagues or bigger, but you just might have better options – especially in PPR. McKinnon should only be considered in deep PPR leagues (16-plus teams).

Want to talk more fantasy football? E-mail Mike at mike.nelson@startribune.com or heckle him on Twitter @mike_e_nelson.

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