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Why Buy Tarik Cohen When This RB is Cheaper?

“You pay for this, but they give you that.”

That classic Neil Young lyric came to mind as I was researching this year’s “Why Buy?” series. We’re often so confident of what we’re going to get when we spend that sixth-round pick on the next big thing, but in reality, we rarely know what we’re buying.

The solution? Pay less.

That’s the concept behind our “Why Buy?” series, which is inspired by the Fantasy Douche’s Getting Something for Nothing article penned back in 2013.

Whatever you want to call it — arbitrage, discount shopping, or simply fading overpriced players — there’s no shortage of opportunities to buy knock-off versions of more expensive players this season.

We already explored discounts plays on Dante Pettis and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mark Ingram, and Corey Davis

Now let’s explore a cheaper way to acquire a Tarik Cohen-like profile.

Reduced Role for the Human Joystick

The Bears back is coming off an RB13 finish where he ranked:

  • Sixth in RB targets
  • Sixth in target market share
  • Second in receiving yards
  • Seventh in expected receiving points
  • Second in receiving points over expectations (reFPOE)

Considering the lofty finish, Cohen’s price is reasonable at 56th overall, the 27th RB off the board in Fanball drafts.

He’s not a landmine at that price, but there is a mounting body of evidence suggesting a reduced role for Cohen in his third season. With two-down plodder Jordan Howard in the fold last year, Cohen had the backfield passing game role to himself.

That won’t be the case this season. Howard’s gone and rookie David Montgomery, a player who caught 58 passes over his final two collegiate seasons, has been drawing rave reviews all summer long; he’ll be more involved in that phase than Howard was. Chicago also added Mike Davis, who had 39 targets in Seattle last year. Newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson may be listed as a wide receiver but is expected to siphon off some of those low-aDOT targets as well. Don’t be surprised to see a step forward from second-year WR Anthony Miller, either.

“We moved [Cohen] around a lot last year, and I do feel like there was a time — probably later in the season — where we probably gave him a little bit too much,” Nagy told the Chicago Sun Times.

Despite Cohen’s efficiency in that department, he’s highly unlikely to get another 94 targets again this year. He probably won’t be as efficient, either. John Lapinski notes that Cohen is a prime candidate for regression after leading all RBs (with at least 40 targets) in yards per target.

Here’s another, cheaper pass-catching dynamo to target instead.

Hines 57-Plus Targets

Nyheim Hines checks in at No. 13 on Shawn Siegele’s 2019 Zero RB Candidates Countdown.  He was also recommended last year, and while Hines wasn’t a league winner, he paid off with an RB28 finish. This year, he’s the 40th RB off the board and trending downward.

The sophomore also featured in our rundown of the best committee, “S2” backs to target in 2019:

Of 589 rookie RBs since 2000, only five of them caught more passes than Hines’ 63 last season — Saquon BarkleyReggie BushAlvin KamaraChristian McCaffrey, and Matt Forte (tied).

In that time, there have been 10 RBs to record at least 55 receptions as rookies (excluding Barkley & Hines last year). As sophomores, that group averaged 250.1 fantasy points. 

Using the new Range of Outcomes App, we can get an indication of what to expect from these two in 2019 based on their historical comps group.

Takeaways

  • Hines’ low and median outcomes are 0.4 and 0.1 PPG shy of Cohen’s, respectively, while his high-end projection is 0.5 PPG better.
  • Likely due to the efficiency factors noted above, Cohen’s comps dropped off by -2 PPG the following year (“Change” column).
  • But we see room for improvement with Hines as his comps group improved by 1 PPG.

While there have been some to suggest that the Colts are priming Marlon Mack for a big three-down role, that doesn’t make a lot of sense considering they employ such an effective receiving back in Hines.

RotoViz alum Ben Gretch helps put that notion on ice. 

Conclusion

I don’t think Cohen is a poor pick at price this season, but we can get the same baseline scoring with a little more upside from the overlooked Hines some 50 picks later.

Image Credit: Daniel Bartel/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Tarik Cohen.

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