With Adrian Peterson entering his age-29 season, the Minnesota Vikings started building a succession plan by taking Jerick McKinnon in the third round of May’s draft. McKinnon also saw time as an option quarterback at Georgia Southern, but a solid preseason showed he can develop into an all-around running back and he could immediately push Matt Asiata for playing time behind Peterson.
The arrival of Norv Turner as offensive coordinator has fantasy owners very optimistic about Peterson, and he remains one of elite running backs for at least one more year with some untapped upside as a pass catcher. Peterson’s injuries have opened the door for others to be productive in the past, most notably Toby Gerhart in 2011 and Asiata late last season. It would take a similar situation for McKinnon to have any value in single-season leagues, and that’s assuming he clearly usurps Asiata on the depth chart. If Peterson were to miss multiple games this year, fantasy owners may struggle to find a consistent option in Minnesota’s running back mix.
McKinnon is worth a look as a handcuff to Peterson in deep re-draft leagues, but his value is greatest as a stash in dynasty leagues right now. If 2014 winds up being Peterson’s last season with the Vikings, due primarily to the money he is owed over the rest of his contract, McKinnon would be in line to start in 2015 unless someone else is added to the mix via free agency or the draft.
McKinnon is the virtual definition of a deep fantasy sleeper for this year, with no clear path to significant playing time and an injury being required for him to have a substantial role. He is best left on the waiver wire at this point, but if Peterson misses time again McKinnon would instantly become a high-priority addition for fantasy owners.