Tarik Cohen Provides Buying Opportunity (2018 Fantasy Football)
Welcome back, Fantasy Bargain Hunters!
If this is your first time, a quick refresher: Everyone loves a bargain, both in life and fantasy. We want to select players who provide value that at least matches, and ideally exceeds, the price we paid. Thus, I scour the Fantasy Market — created through FantasyPros’ ADP and ECR tools — in search of guys who rank far higher on my own Big Board as compared to where they are being drafted and/or ranked.
Last time, I revealed the 2018 version of Tyreek Hill (WR – KC) — aka a 5th Round WR who explodes and finishes as a bonafide WR1. In general, the WR position feels loaded with mid-to-late round bargains, so if you’re craving more, be sure to check out our (FREE) Preseason Kickoff Guide, jam-packed with 11 more Bargains (as well as 15 Late Round “Penny Stocks” set to explode).
Now, we turn our attention to Running Backs. In general, I love loading up at both WR and RB; you’re required to start at least two of each, and often as many three or four. Applying “Supply and Demand,” you’ll need to take as many quality stabs as possible. While the late round WR pool is a bit deeper, there’s at least a handful of Rounds 6-9 RBs who could explode for high-end RB2 production.
Let’s just start with the fact that Cohen’s nickname is “The Human Joystick” — and very fairly so.
Whether through his deadly jukes, ferocious spin moves, or underratedly powerful stiff arm, Cohen’s among the league’s best at making defenders miss… and look completely foolish. Only an elite few can match his ability to stop on a dime, and then turbo-boost to full speed just seconds later.
Unsurprisingly, Cohen led PFF’s Breakaway Percentage, with over 50% of his yards coming on runs of 15+ yards.
Tarik Cohen was a breakaway threat in 2017! pic.twitter.com/w3wBNaQWfw
— PFF (@PFF) May 21, 2018
Beyond his Alvin Kamara (RB – NO) level of slipperiness as a runner, Cohen is also an incredible pass-catcher. As we’ll dig into shortly, this is absolutely crucial in a Matt Nagy offense. Nagy himself noted Cohen’s pass-catching prowess, stating:
“You may look like you can run routes, but can you really run routes? He’s able to run routes… Sometimes that can be a disadvantage to a defense because they’ve got to cover him all over the field. You can’t just put him in the backfield and say to the middle linebacker, ‘Cover him.’ So we’ll try to do some things there. He’s an athletic kid who does a lot of things well. We’ll have some fun with him.”
Sometimes, things are better watched than read. Just take a look at some of his highlight clips from his rookie season:
In short, Cohen brings incredible explosiveness, agility, and versatility to the field, and even has some underrated power behind that 5’6″, 181 lb frame. He can be utilized all over the place, which is perfect considering:
The Coaching Scheme/Usage
Despite being the Bears’ most dynamic player by a mile last season, Cohen was infuriatingly underutilized under the completely vanilla John Fox. Thankfully, you can expect the complete opposite under Nagy, who specializes in aggressiveness, creativity, and moving players all over the place to squeeze the most out of them.
Which is why Cohen, the team’s most versatile and explosive threat, will absolutely thrive.
Entering OTAs, Nagy said he’s “giddy” about all the ways he can maximize Cohen unique abilities. Once practices began, it became abundantly clear not mere “coachspeak.” As the Chicago Sun Times detailed, Cohen’s 2018 usage in practice has been so extensive and creative that he “arguably is busier learning coach Matt Nagy’s offense than anybody except quarterback Mitch Trubisky.”
This has carried into Training Camp, as the Chicago Tribune notes, “It’s not accurate to list Cohen as a running back anymore. He requires a slash, as in running back/wide receiver.” The paper further explained how Nagy has Cohen, “lining up everywhere to maximize his speed, agility and explosiveness with the ball in his hands. Cohen has welcomed the challenge of learning multiple positions and has done well retaining the details required of each. He’s the Bears’ most dynamic player.”
Cohen’s extensive receiving usage shouldn’t be surprising, considering Nagy’s “Andy Reid-roots.” From Brian Westbrook to Jamaal Charles (RB – FA), Reid’s constantly peppered his lead backs with target after target, and moved them all over his formation. Cohen will ensure this fantasy-friendly tradition continues, perhaps at the highest rate yet.
The below clip is just one of dozens that show-off Cohen’s improved usage. Here, we see him split completely out wide, before roasting the defender on a wheel down the sideline. Other clips have him hauling in vertical bombs, in addition to the screens and quick routes he’s already dominated on:
Look at the alignment and route by Tarik Cohen here — never would've happened under John Fox. Was completely underutilized last year (despite being Pro Football Focus' Top Breakaway threat), and we're already seeing signs he'll be properly used and explode under new HC Matt Nagy.
Posted by Roto Street Journal on Monday, July 30, 2018
Cohen himself is ecstatic with the increased usage and coaching creativity, noting, “I feel like I fit very well into the offense. I’m doing a little bit of everything – outside receiver, in the slot and at running back as well as special teams. I feel like this is the offense for me.“
All-in-all, it’s clear Cohen will be on the field and utilized far more often in 2018 under Nagy, even in packages alongside starter Jordan Howard (RB – CHI). The “Individual Talent” has already been abundantly clear, and the expected “Usage” spike will send his fantasy value soaring. This offense as a whole should take a massive leap forward under the direction of Nagy and with excellent “Surrounding Talent” additions out wide in Allen Robinson (WR – CHI), Taylor Gabriel (WR – CHI), Anthony Miller (WR – CHI), and Trey Burton (TE – CHI). Despite a measly 8th-9th round price tag, Cohen offers a limitless, even Kamara-lite ceiling, considering his explosiveness and elusiveness should be fully maximized in 2018.