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No Bear was more impressive Saturday than rookie running back Tarik Cohen, who rushed for 77 yards on his 11 first-half carries. With Jordan Howard left home after suffering a corneal abrasion during a walk-through Friday, Cohen got the start in the backfield and made the most of his extra opportunity. He had three runs of longer than 15 yards, showcasing his vision and elite burst.
The 5-foot-6, 181-pound Cohen is quickly putting to rest any concerns that the level of competition and physicality in the NFL might prove too challenging for him. He has also demonstrated the toughness and fearlessness needed to flourish.
Jordan Howard produced better as a receiver than most expected in 2016, but not well enough to lock down a role as the Bears’ top receiving back. With Howard and once-presumptive second stringer Jeremy Langford gimpy, Chicago’s fourth-round rookie Tarik Cohen has been making noise at practice and in two preseason games.
Blair Andrews penned an extensive profile this May, highlighting Cohen’s production at North Carolina A&T:
|Season||Games||Rushing Attempts||Rushing Yards||YPC||Rushing TDs||Receptions||Receiving Yards||YPR||Receiving TDs|
Indeed, that production makes Cohen one of the most dominant collegiate running backs in the 2017 rookie class:
|Player||Workhorse Score||Workhorse Rank||Dominator Rating||Dominator Rank|
|Tarik Cohen||83.68||4th (out of 36)||0.48||4th (out of 36)|
Andrews compared Cohen to another diminutive RB, Darren Sproles. But even Sproles has five to eight pounds on Cohen. So I used the RotoViz Screener to find any other valuable fantasy football RBs in Cohen’s weight class. The lone result: Warrick Dunn.1
Dunn saw some workhorse seasons later in his career, but he was most productive as a receiver.Cohen probably isn’t the talent that Dunn was. Few are. Dunn was a first-round draft choice and ran a 4.28-second forty-yard dash. Cohen is a fourth-round pick and ran a 4.42-second forty.
But talent gap aside, Dunn’s workload provides the blueprint for success: 8 to 12 carries and 5 to 6 targets per game. The carries will be tough to come by, but Cohen is earning those targets already.
- This table omits Dunn’s first three seasons; he averaged at least 12.0 PPR points per game each of those seasons. (back)