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Why Draft Tarik Cohen When This RB is Cheaper?

Are you the kind of shopper who happily snaps up the the dented can of the brand name item that’s been marked down? Then this is the series for you.

After all, why pay more when you can get the job done for less?

That’s the thinking in using arbitrage in fantasy football, a concept first discussed years ago by the Fantasy Douche.

The idea behind using an arbitrage approach in your fantasy drafting is that you’re looking to keep the same upside, while reducing your risk. – Fantasy Douche

Some of arbitrage plays we talk about will be the next Marvin McNutt, and some will be last year’s Mark Ingram, a player we insisted brought as much upside as many of the backs in front of him. We won’t win them all, but the wins will outweigh the losses when the cost to acquire these players is so much more economical.

Today, I offer you a the dented-can version of Tarik Cohen. 

Tarik Cohen, But Cheaper

Cohen is expected to be busy in a revamped Chicago offense led by Matt Nagy, who comes from the Andy Reid School of peppering RBs with targets. Any improvement to his rookie season will make him a value at his current price — Cohen finished as the RB30 in PPR leagues and is currently the 30th RB off the board in MFL10s.

However, there is a back with a similar stature and skill set, who is playing on what should be an even better offense — one that passes to the RB as much as any team in the league.

The biggest difference between the two appears to be price of acquisition.



RotoViz rankers have Matt Breida two tiers below Cohen, but considering they’re used much the same way, their range of outcomes are closer than this would suggest.

Reputations aside, it’s San Francisco that should be an even better spot for a pass-catching RB than Chicago. The 49ers targeted their RBs 166 times last year, second most in the league, and total, the 49ers had the fourth-most expected points from RBs.

With Nagy as their offensive coordinator, Kansas City targeted an RB 114 times, tied for 15th among all teams. The Chiefs ranked 23rd in the league in expected points (ruEP + reEP) from their RBs.

The main thing separating them last year was targets; otherwise, they were similar players in terms of volume and efficiency.


However, Carlos Hyde and his 88 targets (fifth most in the league) are gone. While Jerick McKinnon is capable in the passing game, it’s unlikely he gets more than 250 total touches (he’s never topped 202 touches or 51 receptions), which should mean a healthy increase in looks for Breida.

Breida was also busier in the run game than Cohen, although those touches are of less value.

Of Prospects and Projections

We see a similar trend in their college numbers — Breida the slightly more effective back in the run game (6.9 career YPC vs 6.5), with Cohen getting far more work as a receiver.

Year School G Rush Att Rush Yds Rush Avg Rush TD Rec Rec Yds Rec Avg
Breida 2014 Georgia Southern 12 171 1485 8.7 17 8 97 12.1
Breida 2015 Georgia Southern 13 203 1609 7.9 17 3 6 2
Breida 2016 Georgia Southern 12 168 646 3.8 3 11 53 4.8
Cohen 2013 North Carolina 11 195 1148 5.9 8 11 152 13.8
Cohen 2014 North Carolina 11 197 1340 6.8 15 25 237 9.5
Cohen 2015 North Carolina 12 264 1535 5.8 15 25 217 8.7
Cohen 2016 North Carolina 12 212 1588 7.5 18 37 339 9.2

That edge helped make Cohen a fourth-round pick of the Bears, while Breida went undrafted. The difference was significnat last year, but it doesn’t matter as much now that Bredia has clearly established himself as an NFL starter.

Dave Caban ran 2018 projections for every NFL player, and he sees both backs taking a step forward in Year 2, with Cohen maintaining a significant edge in the passing game.

Player Team Pts Att Yds TD Targets Rec Yds TD
Matt Breida SF 138 126 504 2 54 35 281 2
Tarik Cohen CHI 183 112 436 2 87 65 452 3


Bredia is currently battling a shoulder injury and will be in a race to be ready for Week 1.

Assuming good health, he’s going to play a big part in an offense known for making stars out of late-round RBs.

I like Cohen, but I have a hard time paying a fifth-round price. That’s going to be somewhere near near his ceiling as long as workhorse Jordan Howard, who has had 252 and 276 carries over the past two years, is around. Cohen is going in the exact same spot where you can draft Tevin Coleman, a player with a higher floor and ceiling.

I’ll draft Coleman in the fifth and take the eight-round discount on Breida instead.

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