High-Variance Players: RB Tarik Cohen - Footballguys

The Footballguys staff discusses the high side and low side of Tarik Cohen

When August rolls around, the fantasy football community usually reaches a consensus on most players. Tarik Cohen isn't one of those players. While he's averaging somewhere around RB31, he has been ranked between 17 and 51 at his position. What are your thoughts on him? Is he underrated or overrated? Or neither?

Daniel Simpkins: I believe him to be overvalued at current ADP. There are better options like Marshawn Lynch, Kerryon Johnson, and Isaiah Crowell that are available later and are certain to outperform him. Remember, Cohen is a satellite back who is not going to be used between the tackles. This makes his usage more variable each week. He’s a fine best-ball play, but in a redraft league, I want to take guys capable of both pass catching and running on the interior that will not be as dependent on game scripts that favor passing work.

Jason Wood: He’s overrated. When Matt Nagy signed there was some initial hope Cohen would be the Tyreek Hill of the offense, but it’s clear that won’t be the case. Nagy has gone out of his way to praise Jordan Howard and specifically Howard’s ability to be a third-down back. The Bears have a lot of mouths to feed, and I don’t see Cohen getting consistent targets.

Phil Alexander: I tend to avoid players like Cohen who have unpredictable week-to-week workloads and are reliant on big plays to deliver fantasy production. It's a fine strategy until you whiff on Tyreek Hill every year. Can Cohen be the next Hill? Probably not, but Matt Waldman makes a compelling case for Cohen as a top-15 running back in PPR leagues. With backs like Rex Burkhead, Kerryon Johnson, and Marshawn Lynch available in the same ADP range, I'm not willing to pay Cohen's top-30 asking price. But given the improvements to the Bears offensive personnel and coaching staff, and the modest gains Cohen would have to make to exceed his ADP, I'm also open to being wrong.

Chad Parsons: I have yet to end up with Tarik Cohen in a single draft this year and have not considered him at any step along the way. The biggest reason is I doubt he would be a true feature back even if Jordan Howard were injured. Outside of Christian McCaffrey types with extremely high receiving game projections, I am skeptical of sub-sized backs without lead back potential. Even though the floor is lower for plenty of running backs in Cohen's draft range, I will take higher variance for a shot at a weekly no-brainer fantasy starter elsewhere.

Will Grant: The key to Cohen is league format. The Bears definitely want to get him the ball more, but he's not a 350 carry back. He's more of a change-of-pace/third-down type of guy. So his value increases more in a PPR league than it does in a traditional one.

In a best-ball format though, Cohen makes total sense. He is a threat to take the ball all the way to the end zone every time he touches it, which leads to him scoring longer touchdowns. Best Ball format really plays well to this, and I was more than happy to land him in a couple of my leagues already.

In a PPR league, I would be more than happy to have Cohen as the 31st running back overall. I think he's undervalued at that ADP and I'd be happy to have him as a flex player for my roster.

B.J. VanderWoude: Tarik Cohen fits a unique role for the Bears as they really don’t have a possession type receiver outside of rookie Anthony Miller. Matt Nagy’s offense should be similar to what we’ve seen in Kansas City, and given Mitch Trubisky’s skill set, there should be a high frequency of targets in the short passing game. This makes Cohen a viable threat for 70+ receptions, but I fear his ADP is more indicative of his ceiling than his floor (or a slightly elevated version). This makes him slightly overrated in PPR formats. He should be more consistent in the Bears offense this season, but it is hard to ignore the fact that he had games of 12, 8, 11, -3, 17, 21 and 27 total yards in 2017.

In traditional scoring systems, his value is much lower, as he lacks the upside of other No. 2 running backs around him (Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram II, and Dion Lewis). This is because, in the event of an injury to Jordan Howard, Cohen's volume would still not be in the 15-18 touches per week range. In weeks 1-3 last season, Cohen averaged 15 touches and 94.3 total yards per game. That changed quickly though, as Cohen averaged only 7.2 touches for 34.2 yards in the final 13 weeks. Cohen is 5’6, 179 lbs and is not built to sustain a heavy workload over the course of a full NFL season, so it is hard to imagine a path for him to exceed a total yardage and touchdown combination that would justify his draft position.

Andy Hicks: Smaller running backs are often best used in small doses. A similar back in Darren Sproles, both size wise, and draft slot, took until his sixth season before he produced a decent fantasy season and that was when he changed teams. More often than not these guys produce an electric piece of play but struggle with more than 10 touches. Tarik Cohen started his first three games with 13, 15 and 16 touches. After that, he only exceeded 10 three more times for the remaining 13 games.

Clayton Gray: Cohen is a nice option in best-ball leagues, but I have rarely selected him this season. The usual scenario for me drafting Cohen is "Maybe next round." and then he's not there in the next round. In leagues where you have to pick your starters every week, Cohen would be a maddening player to have on your roster.