Jerick McKinnon parlayed his 2017 success into a four-year, $30 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers. With Carlos Hyde gone to the Cleveland Browns in free agency, McKinnon figures to be the lead back for the new look 49ers.
2018 Fantasy Spotlight: Jerick McKinnon
Going into the 2017 season very little was expected of McKinnon in terms of fantasy football. Minnesota drafted Dalvin Cook out of Florida in the first round of the NFL Draft and also signed Latavius Murray away from the Oakland Raiders. These moves left McKinnon third on the running back depth chart. In years past as the back-up to Adrian Peterson we saw glimpses of ability from the 5’ 9” back out of Georgia Southern. As is the case for many players, injuries can open the door for some and close it for others. The door certainly opened for McKinnon in 2017.
When One Door Opens
The newly signed Murray battled injuries early on in training camp, opening the door for McKinnon to get more reps behind Cook. Cook then suffered a season-ending injury early during his rookie campaign. This injury led to McKinnon becoming the number one back in Minnesota. During his first game as the newly minted starter, McKinnon ran for 95 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. He showed his great hands, catching all six targets for 51 yards. He followed that performance with two touchdowns and 99 total yards against the Green Bay Packers.
Murray eventually got healthy and split time with McKinnon, offering Vikings fans a solid 1-2 punch of “thunder and lightning”. McKinnon finished the season with 570 rushing yards, 421 receiving yards and five total touchdowns. He provided fantasy owners with a jolt of production off the waiver-wire and was a consistent week to week start.
Moving to the West Coast
The move to San Francisco could really help launch McKinnon’s fantasy relevance. He will be given the chance to succeed in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme that was extremely successful in Atlanta for both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. Fantasypros.com gives McKinnon an early ECR (expert consensus ranking) of 69th, placing him in the sixth round of most fantasy drafts. As the saying goes “hope springs eternal” during the NFL offseason and you can bet there will be plenty of fantasy owners holding out “hope” that Jerick McKinnon will be a mid-round fantasy steal.
Jerrick McKinnon will finish as a low RB1 in PPR leagues and an RB2 in standard leagues in 2018. Target him in the 4th-5th round of fantasy drafts.
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