Fantasy Football: Should you start Matt Asiata?


Aug 8, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Matt Asiata (44) celebrates his touchdown during the first quarter against the Oakland Raiders at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have declared running back Adrian Peterson deactivated for Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots. If you haven’t heard the news, Peterson is being indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury for allegedly abusing his 4-year-old son.

Jul 25, 2014; Mankato, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) laughs with running back Matt Asiata (44) as they leave the field at training camp at Minnesota State University. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

We don’t know how much time Adrian Peterson is going to miss, but we do know running back Matt Asiata is going to start in Peterson’s place on Sunday.

With Asiata starting this week, it begs the question: can Asiata add value to your fantasy lineup this week?

Let’s look at Asiata’s profile and what kind of athlete he is.

Asiata went to the University of Utah, where he rushed for 1,748 yards and 24 touchdowns during his career. Asiata went undrafted during the 2011 NFL draft and was signed by the Minnesota Vikings. Here is a look at some of Asiata’s pre-draft metrics:

Pre-draft measurables: 5-11, 229 pounds, 4.77 (40-yard dash), 7.09 (3-cone) 30 inch vertical, 22 reps (bench press)

The metrics he displayed from the NFL combine shows that he’s a big, powerful, plodding running back that doesn’t have much burst or speed. From watching him through the preseason, he is a running back that gains as many yards as the offensive line will block for him.

If the o-line gives him five yards, then he will get five yards.

He is not elusive enough to make defenders miss, nor is he fast enough to outrun the entire secondary of the defense for a long gain. Asiata runs hard, and with his size, he is hard to bring down. Typically, he doesn’t get tackled after first contact, and he’s good around the goal line because he can move the pile.

In 2012, Asiata made his debut for the Vikings, where he played in two games, and rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns.

He averaged 3.8 yards per carry in those two games.

The first game against the Philadelphia Eagles he rushed 30 times for 50 yards and three touchdowns. This shows that Asiata will be used a lot around the goal line but will have trouble generating yardage if blocking is not set up perfectly for him.

The next game, he rushed 14 times for 115 yards against the Detroit Lions. I am taking this game with a grain of salt because it was the last game of the season, and both teams were out of contention for the playoffs. There was a good chance the Detroit defense wasn’t as dialed in as they usually are for this game.

Should you start Matt Asiata this week?

I wouldn’t start him this week unless your team is having concerning issues at running back, because Asiata is only going to be fantasy relevant if he gets touches around the goal line, so you will be starting him in hopes he gets a touchdown.

He’s not going to catch passes, so he’s not going to help your team in PPR leagues. He should be owned in every league because he is a starting running back, and those are few and far between. He will be pushed by third-string running back Jerick McKinnon, who is a very athletic talent, but he is very raw and will need time to developed his skills doing the little things, like pass protection.

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I won’t be surprised if McKinnon gains the starting role or sees significant touches in the near future because he has elite athleticism, and if Norv Turner (Vikings Offensive Coordinator) can figure out how to use him to maximize McKinnon’s athleticism, then he will the running back to own in fantasy.

I recommend picking up McKinnon for your fantasy team as a stash on your bench, just to see if he manages any fantasy production this year. I wouldn’t pick up any of these guys on your team if your fantasy team is loaded with talent because neither of these teams are worth dropping a stud or good fantasy player for.

Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson will see his fantasy production increase, because he’s going to be used in the running game a lot more with end arounds and being used out of the back field from time to time.

He should be started every week.

That’s my take on Asiata …  stash him and only start him if you are in need of a running back this week.

If you have any questions on who to start this week, you can contact me on twitter @bmatz08.