Fantasy Court: The Case For Tarik Cohen in 2019
In the Fantasy Court Series, two of the writers for The Fantasy Footballers choose sides on a player and present their argument to help you decide whether or not you should be adding these players to your fantasy team. Today’s case is all about Chicago’s pass-catching RB, Tarik Cohen. I will be providing all of the reasons you should be happy to draft Turok, The Dinosaur Hunter to your fantasy team and you can read Eric Ludwig‘s Case Against Tarik Cohen for the counterargument.
It’s a trend that I have noticed growing over the years, even in PPR leagues: People undervalue pass-catching specialist RBs. In 2018, despite all signs pointing towards him being the pass-catching back for New Orleans, a role that Darren Sproles proved was insanely valuable in fantasy football, Alvin Kamara had a 12th Round ADP. He finished as the overall RB3 with 101 targets. Last season, people were doubting Christian McCaffrey was worth his 2nd Round ADP and James White was able to be drafted after the 10th Round. Both finished as top 10 RBs. This year, Tarik Cohen finds himself in a similar position to CMC. He is coming off of an RB13 finish, he plays in a scheme that has produced excellent pass-catching RBs, and he has an opportunity to grow in the running game. Yet, with all of these positive factors, he is being drafted as the RB27? Do not fall victim to this trap.
If you listened to the recent “Mid Round Madness” episode of the Fantasy Footballers podcast, you heard host Andy Holloway sound the horn for Tarik Cohen as a mid-round guy he’s targeting! His reasoning was simple: We saw what Cohen did in 2018 and there is no reason to expect much change in 2019. He was not the “bell-cow” last year and will not be asked to be in 2019. But back to 2018, starting with Cohen’s final stats. While he only saw 99 carries and 444 rushing yards, he was a force in the passing game with 71 receptions and 725 yards on 91 targets. He added 5 receiving TDs to his 3 rushing TDs and those 8 endzone trips helped propel him to the RB13 overall. He was one of only 2 RBs (James White) to finish in the top 30 despite not finishing with more than 100 carries. He did everything he did despite Jordan Howard getting 250 carries and finishing the season as the RB20. In short, he proved that he doesn’t need to be the Bears primary back to be successful in fantasy football.
Expectations for 2019
I almost feel like I could just end my argument now. Despite not seeing 100 carries, he finished as the RB13. Now you’re trying to convince me that he shouldn’t be drafted as the RB27? Why? Because they drafted David Montgomery? Mr. Mopportunity can have the primary back role that Jordan Howard has vacated. Tarik Cohen is an RB that also plays slot WR. He was in the backfield 63% of plays last year and in the slot for another 20%, highest among all RBs.
The first and only knock on Cohen is the draft capital spent on Montgomery and the “loss of work”. As I mentioned previously, Cohen ceded 250 carries to Jordan Howard last year, it does not matter. Give Montgomery his 250 carries, all Cohen needs is the passing targets. Don’t even bring up Mike Davis, his shot was missed the second Montgomery was drafted. Cohen scored 10+ fantasy points in 10 of 16 games last season. He had 10+ carries just once all year. The only thing that could derail Cohen easily outplaying his ADP is a lack of use in the passing game.
Nothing in Matt Nagy’s history points to that happening at all. Nagy has been a head coach or offensive coordinator for 3 NFL seasons. During that span, his team’s total RB targets are 2016 – 92 targets, 2017 – 114 targets, 2018 – 131 targets. His scheme has increased RB targets every year and in 2018, his first year as the head coach, we saw the most of his career. So trends say that we may actually see another 10-15 targets from the RBs in Chicago. You can give 35 to Montgomery, 15 to Mike Davis, and still have the 90+ that Cohen saw last season. If he doesn’t give up the full 50 targets to those guys, he could cross the 100 target mark. But what if the rookie starts slow? Cohen could easily see an increase in his utilization in the rushing game, to the tune of 130-140 carries, and that could propel him to top-10 RB territory. I think it is fair to look at 2018 as his floor.
You have a unique opportunity this year. You get to fix the past and do things you wished you had done the last two seasons. “Man, I wish I would have grabbed Alvin Kamara his rookie year” or “I could have Christian McCaffrey in the early 2nd Round and passed“. Next season it will be “The guy in my league that grabbed Tarik Cohen in the 4th Round won the #FootClanTitle.” Top-20 is Cohen’s floor, he has a top-10 ceiling, and you are being told not to draft him as the RB27. Think about that. In previous articles, I have pointed out the high bust % of 1st and 2nd Round RBs, basically around 66%. Part of that is caused by injury, the other part is that mid-round guys outperform their ADP and finish as an RB1. That is precisely what Tarik Cohen will do in 2019. He will catch 80 balls, he will rush for 600 yards, and he will score 10 TDs. Draft him as your RB2, or your RB1 if you are going Zero RB, and thank me later!