The running back position is always the most coveted and volatile in fantasy football, and this year is no exception. Two of the top RBs in the league, Dalvin Cook and Ezekiel Elliott, have signed new contracts that will have a significant impact on their fantasy value and the RB landscape as a whole.
Cook, who was holding out for a long-term deal with the Minnesota Vikings, agreed to a five-year, $63 million extension on Saturday. The deal includes $28 million in guaranteed money and makes Cook the fifth-highest paid RB in the NFL. Cook was a fantasy stud last year, finishing as the RB6 in PPR formats despite missing two games due to injury. He racked up 1,654 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns on 303 touches. He also showed his versatility as a receiver, catching 53 passes for 519 yards.
Dalvin Cook’s former teammate, Alexander Mattison thinks that Cook still has a lot left in the tank pic.twitter.com/2c6Y8BGeEk
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) August 14, 2023
Cook’s new contract ensures that he will be the focal point of the Vikings offense for years to come, and he should be a lock for a top-five finish among RBs in fantasy this season. He has elite talent, a high-volume role, and a favorable schedule. The only concern with Cook is his durability, as he has missed 19 games in his three-year career due to various injuries. Fantasy owners who draft Cook should also try to secure his handcuff, Alexander Mattison, who would be a valuable asset if Cook goes down.
Elliott, on the other hand, did not get a new contract from the Dallas Cowboys, but he did get a new teammate who could affect his fantasy production. The Cowboys signed veteran RB Le’Veon Bell to a one-year, $4.5 million deal on Monday, adding another weapon to their already loaded offense. Bell was released by the New York Jets last week after a disappointing tenure with the team. He averaged only 3.3 yards per carry and scored four total touchdowns in 17 games with the Jets.
Bell’s arrival in Dallas raises some questions about Elliott’s workload and efficiency. Elliott has been one of the most consistent and durable RBs in fantasy since entering the league in 2016. He has never finished lower than RB10 in PPR formats and has missed only two games due to injury. He has also led the league in rushing yards twice and has scored 58 total touchdowns in his career. However, Elliott’s numbers have declined slightly in recent years, as he averaged a career-low 4.0 yards per carry and scored only 14 touchdowns last season.
Elliott is still the clear-cut starter and workhorse for the Cowboys, but Bell could eat into his touches and targets, especially on passing downs. Bell is a proven pass-catcher who has averaged 73 receptions per season in his career. He could also spell Elliott on early downs and provide some fresh legs for the Cowboys offense. Elliott’s fantasy value is not significantly affected by Bell’s signing, but it does lower his ceiling a bit. He is still a top-10 RB in fantasy, but he may not be worth a top-five pick anymore.