Jerick McKinnon, rated rookie

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Jerick McKinnon, way back in mini-camp, when he was merely a dynasty flier (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)
Jerick McKinnon, way back in mini-camp, when he was merely a dynasty flier (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Back in May, when the Minnesota Vikings used a third-round pick to select Jerick McKinnon, the team surely viewed the Georgia Southern rookie as a developmental prospect. McKinnon had opened his collegiate career at defensive back, then later became a triple-option QB and tailback. The Vikings viewed him as a change-of-pace runner and potential third-down back, though he only caught three balls in his senior season and he had little meaningful experience in pass protection.

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But suddenly, given the uncertainty surrounding Adrian Peterson's NFL future, McKinnon is a player of interest for the fantasy community — and not simply as a dynasty league lottery ticket. The kid played 23 snaps in Week 2 for the Vikings, per Pro Football Focus, while Matt Asiata saw 47. McKinnon's explosiveness and athleticism are many levels beyond Asiata's, so it's really not difficult to imagine him seizing a greater share of the backfield work.

McKinnon's college stats were of course ridiculous, as were his highlights. You'd expect as much from an early-round pro facing less-than-elite competition. He averaged 7.1 YPC as a junior, rushing for 1,817 yards and passing for 597. Last year, he gained 6.9 yards per carry, rushing for 12 TDs and passing for four, and he scored the game-deciding touchdown in Georgia Southern's win at Florida.

The numbers that really wowed the scouting community, however, were those produced by McKinnon at the pre-draft combine. There, he ranked among the top performers at his future position in ... well, in everything. McKinnon crushed the bench press (32 reps), the vertical jump (40.5 inches) the 40-yard dash (4.41), the broad jump (11 feet) and the agility drills.

Basically, we're talking about a player with alien/superhero-level athleticism, and there's little question his role will continue to expand for however long Peterson is removed from the team. Combine greatness doesn't always translate to on-field success, obviously — speed doesn't matter if a player is hesitant — but it's better to be an athletic freak than athletically meh.

Asiata is long-gone in most competitive leagues (51 percent owned), but McKinnon remains available in 85 percent of the Yahoo universe. He can't be trusted as a fantasy starter in Week 3, but he's certainly worth a speculative add if you have a bench spot to spare.

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