Should you pick up Tarik Cohen in fantasy football?

Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen, center, celebrates a touchdown with teammates during the second half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Today, many will be asking themselves if the Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen is worth picking up for their fantasy football team.

Watching an available player pick up 113 offensive yards with a touchdown in Week 1 will do that to a fantasy owner.

Some will suggest that it was a one-time performance from a backup running back. And others will throw out the idea that he is just a gadget player. Regardless of the excuse, they will say Cohen can’t sustain this type of NFL success weekly.

But Cohen is here to stay. He should be a part of your waiver wire claims in all fantasy formats this week.

Of course, doubters will first point to the small stature of the 5-foot-6 Cohen. The truth is his size is not ideal for a NFL running back. But he has shown the ability to handle a heavy workload despite his light build.

According to PlayerProfiler.com, the Bears rookie ball carrier had a 40.8 percent college dominator score. This score is the percentage of a running back’s total team yards and touchdowns in college. Player Profiler suggests anything over 40 percent is excellent. That means Cohen can handle a big role within an offense and is anything but a gadget player.

OK, he can handle a big role if given the chance. But he is still second on the depth chart, and that likely will be the next argument against Cohen.

Yes, the Bears still have Jordan Howard as their lead running back. But the plan always was for Cohen to be heavily involved in the passing game this season. For as good as Howard is at running the ball, he is not a strong option in the passing game. In 2016, he was 36th among 53 players ranked by FootballOutsiders.com in running back receiving DVOA. That poor ranking was mainly because of his 58 percent catch rate on the year. Clearly, this was a knock on Howard’s rookie campaign.

But the Bears did not target Howard in the passing game one time in a preseason game this August. Most teams use the preseason to help players work on a part of their game. However, Chicago quarterbacks did not throw the ball to him once. Why?

Because Cohen was going to be the Bears go-to guy out of the backfield in the passing attack. Besides his big-play ability, the pass-catching skill was what the Bears wanted. In addition to setting a school record with 1,588 rushing yards at North Carolina A&T last season, he also had 37 catches. His versatility can complement Howard’s running ability this season.

And while Cohen already was going to be a part of the Chicago offense this season, the Human Joystick should play an even bigger role starting in Week 2. A thin Chicago receiving corps got much thinner on Sunday. Former first-round pick Kevin White broke his collarbone and is going to miss the rest of the season following surgery.

With no one left on the roster to be a reliable option in the passing game, expect quarterback Mike Glennon and the Bears to rely on Cohen as one of their top threats each week. Even before White’s injury on Sunday, Cohen was a significant part of the passing game, and led the team with eight receptions in the 23-17 season-opening loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

While others may doubt Cohen’s ability to be fantasy relevant in 2017, move fast and add him to your rosters before it is too late.


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