by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It wasn’t a bad day for Jordan Howard, who averaged 4.0 yards per carry (13 carries for 52 yards) and scored a TD. However the story of the backfield was clearly fourth round rookie Tarik Cohen, who stepped in for the injured Josh Bellamy and made a significant impact both running and catching the football:
- Rushing – 5 carries for 66 yards (13.2 YPC)
- Receiving – 8 receptions (on 12 targets) for 47 yards and 1 TD
It’s not like the team was facing a significant deficit, so the fact that Howard had 16 touches compared to the 13 for Cohen is extremely interesting and tells us that the rookie could significantly impact the outlook for the “top” running back in Chicago. Of course we can’t expect Howard to simply disappear from the game plan himself, coming off a rookie season where he averaged 5.2 yards per carry (1,313 yards). Cohen’s rushing numbers were also inflated by one huge run (he had a 46 yard scamper).
Instead this is likely to fall into a committee approach, with Howard handling the bulk of the early down/short yardage work and Cohen being the passing down player. Remember, before you go all in on Cohen he is listed at 5’6” and 181 lbs, making it hard to imagine him being handed a full workload with concerns that he’s unable to hold up. Prior to the draft NFL.com gave the perfect description of him and his projected usage:
Cohen uses a bounding, bouncing approach to the line of scrimmage reminiscent of Le’Veon Bell, but he’s far less likely to finish downhill and instead looks to break it wide and out-race defenders. He’s an electric playmaker who needs touches, but he’s too small and unpredictable to handle much of an NFL carry count. Cohen gets easy separation as a receiver out of the backfield or from the slot and he will likely be used as an updated version of Darren Sproles 2.0.
The potential injury to Kevin White does likely open up a bigger role for Cohen and the running game in general, but proceed with caution before simply going all in and thinking he will be a must own option. A great fit for those in PPR formats, he likely will see his role determined more by game flow and should be viewed as a potential FLEX option as a opposed to a RB2 for now.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
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