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We take the handoff for the ADP Duel here, as we look to the running back position and a battle between two players who will be in consideration as low-end RB2s in drafts. Both Bilal Powell and Dalvin Cook will be playing for offenses that leave a lot to be desired. But, both players are intriguing because of what they could offer on the field. Unless you are going into your draft with the “Zero-RB” strategy, running back will be a highly sought-after position early and often in 2017.
After the 2016 season saw the re-emergence of the importance of top-tier running backs on your roster, expect players like Powell and Cook to find their value in drafts a tad bit earlier than usual. With the position likely to be flying off the board, the benefit of having players who can run and catch on your roster can really help your team shine on a weekly basis. But what separates the veteran in Powell from the rookie Cook? We dive into the details, and go for the goal line in this ADP Duel.
Bilal Powell: ADP 62
Bilal Powell started off 2016 in a reserve role for the Jets, and while he was largely an afterthought during drafts, he quickly began to show some flash early in the season. While starter Matt Forte handled virtually all the rushing duties, Powell was used as the pass catching back and even had a great three-week stretch in Week’s 3-5 in which he hauled in six receptions per game.
This trend continued through most of the season, until the injury bug hit Forte, handing the running job to Powell. He took the job and ran with it, scoring over 20 points per week in three of the final four games, with an impressive 11-catch game in Week 15. Powell was a big contributor to many title winning teams in 2016. All this success came even while the Jets were an abject disaster at the quarterback position.
Entering the 2017 season, much has changed, but much has stayed the same. The Jets will be heading into the season with Josh McCown as the starting QB, with not much help behind him. Also, at the start of camp, Matt Forte is technically labeled as the starter but many believe that this will start off as a committee approach. Not many people can tell you that Powell ranks sixth at the position with 105 catches over the last two years, so his draft stock rises in PPR formats.
Over the course of his career, he has yet to be fully trusted in the lead role, but that all could change in 2017. As the season progresses, look for Powell to start to seize control of the lead back role and be a viable option in both standard and PPR formats. A season of 800 yards rushing and 500 receiving with seven total touchdowns could be within reach for Powell. I would be comfortable starting Powell as a low-end RB2/Flex option, but only at the right price during the draft. His current ADP (62 overall according to Fantasypros.com) has him going early in Round 6, seemingly the right spot given the current situation with the Jets rotation at the position.
Dalvin Cook: ADP 63
Dalvin Cook enters the NFL after a productive career at Florida State, and will now look to add a little life to a Vikings running game that was virtually lifeless in 2016. In limited action, Adrian Peterson was only able to muster a measly 1.9 YPC last season, speaking to the weakness that is the offensive line of the team.
Cook can offer some help in that department with his elusiveness and speed to the outside. His 2.6 yards after contact with the Seminoles last season also shows that he can take on contact and continue to move forward. With the bright spots to his game, also comes the bad. During his college career, he had troubles with putting the ball on the ground, whether it was fumbles or dropped passes. He must show early in camp that these issues have been resolved before he will be given the opportunity to be the every-down back for the Vikings in 2017.
While many believe that Cook will be the sure-fire number one option for this team on the depth chart, the team also signed Latavius Murray in free agency. Murray has the ability to force a timeshare in this offense and be the goal-line back, but the skillset of Cook could eventually win out.
The issue again will be the play of the offensive line, although the Vikings attempted to bolster the unit in the offseason. If this unit gels early it will help the passing attack, which will open up holes for the running game. If Cook can routinely find open holes, watch out. He has big-play ability, and could be a player worth rostering based on the scoring potential, whether on the ground or through the air.
I can see Cook pushing for 1,000 yards rushing in his rookie year, coupled with another 300 through the air. The touchdown department is where it could be tricky here. He could go as high as eight, or as low as four with Murray likely to vulture a few away. His current ADP of 63 has him right in line with Powell early in Round 6, but don’t be shocked to see him rise or be taken earlier by owners in your drafts.
Many owners will be presented with this situation as the two players are being selected right next to each other in early drafts. For me, I’ll be going with Dalvin Cook every time. He will be more of a complete package potentially in both standard and PPR formats. Although he will have some competition for the job from Latavius Murray, he will not be labeled the backup early on, as is the case with Powell behind Forte. In the end, I don’t think you can go wrong with either option as you round out your team, but the scoring potential the Cook presents has me sold here. Go with the pick of Dalvin Cook, and start planning on that next selection.
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