Alexander Mattison: Priority Waiver Wire Pickup for Week 9 (Fantasy Football)
We continue our deeper look at priority waiver wire pickups this week by diving into the background of Vikings RB Alexander Mattison. While Dalvin Cook has rightfully gotten showered with praise for his performance this season, Mattison has continued to be a solid contributor in the background. We will take a look at his profile as a prospect coming into the league, the current state of the Vikings offense, and what we can expect from him going forward.
Mattison is a rookie who was taken in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He played his college ball at Boise State where he flashed the ability to be a dual-threat. In his sophomore season, he took 212 carries for 1,086 yards (5.1 YPA) and 12 TDs while compiling a receiving line of 28-284-1. That earned him more work as a junior where he tallied 1,415 rushing yards on 302 carries (4.7 YPA) for 17 TDs with a receiving line of 27-173. Those marks were good enough for him to rank top-10 in all of NCAA in rushing attempts, yards, and TDs.
Mattison wasn’t noted for having great long speed as a prospect and that showed up in his 4.67-second 40-yard dash at the combine. He wasn’t really touted as an explosive back either, but this has been something you could argue against based on his early performances as a pro as he has shown solid burst and made up for any lack of speed by ranking top 10 amongst RBs in breakaway runs (carries of 15+ yards) and yards created per carry according to Player Profiler. This is a spot, however, where fellow RB Dalvin Cook separates himself from Mattison as Cook is regularly one of the fastest ball carriers in the league week in and week out per Next Gen Stats.
State of the Offense
The Vikings have run a top 10 offense overall this season that has been led by their strong running game. They rank top-three in most major rushing categories and have only been held under 160 total rushing yards in a game twice this season. While Dalvin Cook gets the majority of the credit for this rushing attack, Mattison has done his part as well carrying the ball 68 times for 331 yards (4.9 YPA) with one TD and hauling in all three of his targets for 11 yards.
A lot was made of Kirk Cousins’ lack of passing early on this season with too much work going through the running game. The passing attack balanced out a lot over the last four weeks but it has had little impact on the production of the rushing offense as it remains one of the best in the league.
What’s impressive about this rushing production is the success they have had despite seeing stacked boxes often. Heading into Week 8, Mattison saw stacked boxes on 36.4% of his carries (fifth-most in the league) while Cook had seen them on 30.8% of his carries (10th-most in the league). Cook managed to rank third in the league with 2.2 yards created per attempt while Mattison tied with Marlon Mack with 1.82 yards created per attempt, which ranked eighth.
Mattison is seeing decent work each week as he has at least seven carries in six of eight games and double-digit carries three times as the Vikes change of pace back. It hasn’t really translated to much standalone value in fantasy, however, as he hasn’t seen extensive work near the end zone or in the passing game which is where the truly valuable CoP backs in fantasy usually make their hay. Mattison is also only seeing the field for about 20% of the team’s snaps as well.
He has shown us enough to be arguably labeled the most valuable handcuff in the league right now, however. That is especially important with him running behind Dalvin Cook who has had his fair share of injury concerns in his young career. Mattison showed the ability to handle a large workload in college and be efficient with it. He had a nose for the end zone, can bully would-be tacklers, and possesses a true three-down skill set with sticky hands out of the backfield.
Looking ahead, the Vikes RBs have a very favorable rest of season schedule, ranking fifth easiest according to our strength of schedule report. Here are their matchups and how they currently rank against RBs according to our matchup calendar:
- Week 9 at KC (9th)
- Week 10 at Dallas (15th)
- Week 11 vs. DEN (17th)
- Week 12 BYE
- Week 13 at SEA (24th)
- Week 14 vs. DET (3rd)
- Week 15 at LAC (10th)
- Week 16 vs. GB (5th)
That schedule during the fantasy playoffs between Weeks 14-16 is especially appealing with two matchups against division rivals who currently rank inside the top five for most fantasy points allowed to RBs.
Mattison is currently only owned in about 24% of leagues on Yahoo. As we start getting through the bye weeks, he becomes more and more of a high priority add and own with roster space not needed as much to support bye week replacements. You can start swapping low-ceiling flex plays for potential league-winning RB handcuffs like Mattison, and if you are a Dalvin Cook owner, this is pretty much a must-own situation to give yourself some injury insurance. If Mattison is still available on your wire, it’s likely the rest of your league-mates have been sleeping on him which means you should be able to claim him pretty cheap. Every season we see guys like him turn out to be stretch-run heroes. Lock him in now.