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Very Deep Sleeper: Mike Boone (2019 Fantasy Football)

Aug 16, 2019

It’s a long shot, but Mike Boone has league-winning upside

R.C. Fischer discusses deep sleeper candidate, Vikings running back Mike Boone in Season 4 of his Very Deep Sleeper series for FantasyPros.

This piece is part of our article program that features quality content from experts exclusively at FantasyPros. For more insight from R.C. head to Fantasy Football Metrics.

The case for Mike Boone in fantasy 2019 starts with a Dalvin Cook angle…

Why are you so confident Dalvin Cook is going to be heathy/fine this year, but fear Leonard Fournette as ‘too fragile’? Cook has played in 15 games the past two seasons, Fournette 21 games…and Fournette’s career per game output humiliates Cook’s production. I know, all those wonderful “He (Cook) looks great in camp” notes you’ve seen. There is a LOT if love for the oft-injured Dalvin Cook for fantasy 2019. His past has been totally fantasy-excused for reasons I do not understand.

Whatever you think of Cook’s talent and touch counts for 2019, you cannot deny he’s at-risk of a letdown via injury. I agree, if he’s healthy for 16 games in 2019…he’s an RB1 in PPR. But what if he isn’t healthy for 16 games? What if he goes down quickly again, then what?

I know. I know. THEY DRAFTED Alexander Mattison! I get that, but you know the Vikings have a running back very much like Dalvin Cook in size and style…only he’s twice the athlete of Cook? Yeah…it’s Mike Boone…the subject of this story.

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Some of you went, “Who?” Which is good because that’s what ‘Very Deep Sleepers’ is all about – the “Who’s that?” guys who can come out of nowhere and hit fantasy success and possible stardom. Boone is tracking as the #115 overall expert consensus ranked running back for 2019 redraft on FantasyPros, so it’s mostly “Who?” when it comes to Boone.

In order for you to buy into Boone, I need to make the case for him not just blasting the case on Cook being injured again/a risk, and also why he might leap over Mattison in the case of another Cook injury. Let’s look at how we got here with Mike Boone…

— Boone was a two-star wide receiver recruit out of high school. Had some lower tier D1 offers but then Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville offered Boone a scholarship to come play running back for the Bearcats.

— Boone was expected to redshirt his 2014 true freshman year but was forced into action a few games into the season and ended up leading the team in rushing (650 yards rushing and 9 TDs in 9 games). His real debut game was against South Florida that season where he took 19 carries and rushed for 212 yards and a TD.

— Boone was part of a three-headed monster running attack in 2015, rushing for 749 yards and (a team leading) 9 TDs. He also ran for 7.2 yards per carry…which was best in the American Conference and 8th-best in all the FCS.

— Boone hurt his foot in 2016 and had a terrible season…just 388 yards rushing and 2 TDs over 9 games, and his yards per carry were almost cut in half to 3.7.

— In 2017, there was a coaching change at Cincinnati, and it was a bad team and Boone had another mediocre season (463 rushing yards, 4 TDs, 4.2 ypc) amidst the turmoil that was happening with the football program.

— He was forgotten/never really considered by scouts for the 2018 NFL Draft, but then an eye-popping Pro Day got him back on the map a little.

Boone ran a 4.44 40-time with a 6.95 three-cone at his Pro Day. Those are nice times from a 5’10″/206 RB prospect but we see a lot of those kinds of times from ‘good’ NFL RB prospects. What was the real eyepopping part – he benched 25 reps, had a 42″ vertical leap, and posted a terrific 11’7″ broad jump. Those are top shelf numbers.

The only player I show in my scouting database at College Football Metrics that ran faster than 4.50 40-time, less than 7.00 three-cone, benched 20+ reps, jumped 37″+, jumped 11’+ broad jump, and weighed 200+ pounds — was Jerick McKinnon. A handful of prospects got close to making the cut…Matt Breida and Reggie Bush among them.

For reference, Dalvin Cook ran a 4.49 40-time, a 7.29 three-cone, benched 22 reps, posted a weak 30.5″ vertical and had a low 9’8″ broad jump. Boone bested him in every single athletic measurable category.

— Boone went undrafted, was signed by the Vikings for training camp and was so good in the preseason/training camp that he forced his way to the main roster for opening day 2018. He was taking touches by Week 3. He got a few more touches when Cook went down in 2018, but then suffered a hamstring injury and missed most of the second half of the season…and his chance to impress with Cook out.

— In Week 1 of the preseason this year (2019), this happened:

I remember scouting Boone for the 2018 NFL Draft, and I was impressed with what I saw. I didn’t know who he was until I saw these great Pro Day numbers come across my desk and my scouting service subscribers wanted to know more. He’s a bulldog of a runner…runs bigger, tougher than his size indicates…much like Dalvin Cook. But he also has legit NFL speed and cutback ability, as you saw from the Week 1 preseason TD video. The former high school star wide receiver also has great hands.

Honestly, in my world…you wish Dalvin Cook had Mike Boone’s physical skillset. Mike Boone wishes he had Cook’s press agent/hype.

So what?

Who cares about any of this because we know the reality is that Cook is ‘the guy’, and then Mattison has ‘draft status’, and Boone…heck, who knows if he even makes the team? All true statements, but the first domino that has to fall for this Boone uprising is a Cook injury, which has been a good bet in the NFL in his career so far.

If Cook goes down, the Vikings can either turn to the bigger, stiffer rookie running back Alexander Mattison…or Dalvin Cook’s better clone who is in the second year in the offense waiting for his chance. And I’m not saying Boone has value because he can stumble into some touches/opportunity if a guy above him gets hurt…I mean, Boone has skills to be the Dalvin Cook everyone is looking for if he gets the shot.

The cost to look at Boone for fantasy today is minimal…really not even worth thinking about in most 2019 redrafts. However, if Cook goes down in-season and fantasy GMs are trying to figure out how to play the Vikings backfield…then you’re probably just now reading this weeks/months after it was originally published, and you’re righteously amazed at the foresight.

I don’t have Boone that highly ranked in my own draft guide. I realize ‘things’ need to happen to spring him. But in my Dynasty rankings, he’s rated quite a bit better…Boone is who I want if Cook goes down. Boone is where the talent is, over Mattison, in my book. Keep Boone in mind if you have to prepare for a Cook injury with ‘handcuffing’ or just as a waiver wire wonder in-season on a Cook ankle twist, etc.

2019 Very Deep Sleeper series (Season 4), so far:

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