Fantasy Football: Alexander Mattison or Darwin Thompson

Alexander Mattison
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - AUGUST 09: Alexander Mattison #25 of the Minnesota Vikings scores a touchdown during the first quarter of a preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes Benz Superdome on August 09, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Alexander Mattison and Darwin Thompson are two exciting rookie running back prospects, but which one has a better outlook for fantasy football in 2019?

Should You Go With Alexander Mattison or Darwin Thompson in Fantasy Football?

If you are looking for value in the later rounds, what better way to find it than drafting a rookie running back with lots of upside. Mattison and Thompson have both performed well during training camp and in the preseason. Each has made a case for being selected in fantasy football drafts.

Mattison and Darwin are currently being drafted back to back in the 11th round. Their ADPs are 126th and 127th overall according to Fantasy Football Calculator. Each will start the season as the number two running back for their team. However, which of these rookie running backs has a better outlook for fantasy football?

To help decide between drafting Mattison or Thompson, I break down each player. We’ll look at their college stats, metrics, and new teams to gain a better understanding of each player and their outlooks for 2019.

Alexander Mattison

Mattison has made a good impression on the coaching staff of the Minnesota Vikings. He had a stellar training camp and played well in the first two preseason games. [Advanced Metrics via Player Profiler]

Mattison has a SPARQ score in the 61st percentile. He is not an elite athlete, but he scores close to or better than the average player by the metrics. His best categories are burst (75th) and strength (67th). His 4.67 seconds 40-yard dash, however, speaks to more of a grinder than a home run threat.

At 5’ 11” tall and 221 pounds, Mattison has the size and build of a prototypical NFL running back. He was used that way his last two seasons at Boise State. In his final season at Boise State, Mattison rushed 302 times, for 1,415 yards (4.7 avg.), and 17 touchdowns. He also added 27 receptions and 173 receiving yards (6.4 avg.)

Mattison has shown the abilities of a three-down running back, and he’s done it multiple seasons. Mattison had a solid stat line his sophomore season as well. Including 1,000+ rushing yards, 28 receptions, 5.7 yards per touch, and 13 total touchdowns.

Mattison will open the season as the backup and complement to Dalvin Cook. It appears Mattison will fill the old Latavius Murray role in the Vikings offense. However, if something happens to Cook, Mattison would get fast-tracked into the number one spot on the depth chart.

Mattison has standalone value as an RB3/4 and is one of the better handcuff options in fantasy football this season.

Darwin Thompson

At 5’ 8” tall and 198 pounds, Thompson is not your prototypical three-down NFL running back. However, few rookie running backs walk into a better team situation in 2019 than Thompson. [Stats via College Football Reference]

When looking at Thompson’s metrics, it is apparent that he is small but mighty. His speed score is on the low-end, in the 21st percentile of players tested entering the league. However, his burst score (91st), agility score (69th), and strength score (75th) are all well above average. Thompson has a SPARQ score in the 74th percentile.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has been impressed with Thompson’s pass protection. That’s good because Thompson will likely need to do a lot of work on passing downs. Luckily, the Chiefs like to pass a lot, and why wouldn’t they with Patrick Mahomes at the helm.

Past “smaller” running backs who thrived in Andy Reid’s offense-

Brian Westbrook– 5’ 10” 203 Lbs.

LeSean McCoy– 5’ 11” 210 Lbs.

Jamaal Charles– 5’ 11” 199 Lbs.

Thompson reminds me of a young Darren Sproles or Austin Ekeler, although he’s not as fast as Sproles. Thompson only saw significant playing time one season in college at Utah State. His junior season, Thompson rushed 153 times, for 1,044 yards (6.8 avg.), and 14 touchdowns. Through the air, Thompson added 23 reception, 351 yards (15.3 avg.), and two touchdowns.

Though he only saw significant touches one year in college, Thompson showed the ability to make a lot out of a little with his 7.9 yards per touch average. Because of his size, Thompson will likely never become a true workhorse back. However, a few touches per game might be all he needs to have an impact.

Expect Thompson to begin the season as a change-of-pace back for K.C. working behind Damien Williams. Thompson has the opportunity to earn more work as the season progresses. He is an RB4 to start the season with a higher upside in PPR leagues.

Draft Alexander Mattison Over Darwin Thompson

Thompson’s ADP 11.07 (127th)

Mattison’s ADP 11.06 (126th)

Although Thompson’s ADP is one spot higher than Mattison’s, it is Mattison that I like more. Depending on the league format, Mattison has more upside. Sure, if you are in a PPR league that awards extra points for big plays, you may want to go, Thompson, but in most other cases it’s Mattison.

These two are so close in ADP for a reason. It’s not easy to say draft one over the other. However, if we are talking standard or half-PPR leagues, the natural choice is Mattison. He also has the better long-term outlook for keeper leagues.

Mattison has the chance to be a future three-down running back. Whether that happens, this season or not will depend on if Cook can stay healthy and hold off the rookie. Even if Cook does remain healthy, a shared workload between the two sounds inevitable.

In PPR leagues the two players are a lot closer in value. The amount of passes K.C. throws to their running backs makes Thompson slightly more appealing in that format. However, full PPR leagues and leagues with big play bonuses are the only leagues to select Thompson ahead of Mattison in drafts. In all other formats, it’s Mattison first.

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