Jerick McKinnon’s elusiveness (5.2-yard average on 213 touches), combined with strong pass protection of Matt Asiata meant the Vikings made little change at running back even though the third-down role could shift. McKinnon (5-9, 205) sits at No. 2 on the depth chart after a strong finish to 2015 with a per-touch average of 8.1 yards in the final four games. He’s a productive change-of-pace back and quick receiver. His playing time could increase as the Vikings look to get more from the passing game.
Asiata (6-0, 219) re-signed on a one-year deal with a minimum base salary ($760,000). He’s a bruiser and served as the primary third-down back behind porous protection, though an improved offensive line could mean a lessened role.
Peterson is not particularly good as a receiver, so McKinnon could carve out a significant role and become a PPR RB3/RB4 even if Peterson stays healthy. In the 10 games over the last two seasons that McKinnon has played without Adrian Peterson, he has averaged 13.9 touches for 67 yards, or 9.4 points per game (PPR). That was with Matt Asiata getting most of the goal line work in 2014, but McKinnon out-touched Asiata by a 13-to-8 margin in the red zone in 2015. So if something were to happen to the 31-year-old Peterson, McKinnon and his 4.9 YPC would likely serve as the lead back and see enough red zone work to make him a worthwhile start on a weekly basis.