The sad truth about football is that it's a traumatic collision sport and with that everyone is, unfortunately, injury prone. Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season was not kind as there are many NFL teams and in turn, fantasy owners who are now scrambling to know what to do next?
Allen Robinson (ACL) and Kevin White (Left Shoulder Blade) suffered season-ending injuries, Danny Woodhead (Hamstring) is out 4-6 weeks, and David Johnson will likely be out 10-12 weeks due to a left wrist dislocation. On top of these heartbreaking injuries, there is a lot to digest and react or overact too.
I'm here to provide you actionable advice throughout the season and will sift through all the narratives that have been spewed out the past few days. Is Kareem Hunt an RB1?! Is Jordan Howard becoming a backup?! Is Tom Brady washed?!
(FYI these are not in any specific order)
1. BUY Tarik Cohen
"The Human Joystick" was a human highlight reel this weekend as he juked defenders and dazzled fans. Cohen was on the field for 28 of the Bears 67 offensive snaps and was a focal point of the offense on 18 of them (5 Rushes, 12 Targets, 1 Wildcat). Cohen (5'6", 179) flashed early on in the preseason and only saw a few first half snaps in the Bears third preseason game, typically a team's dress rehearsal. The Bears coaching staff hinted at bigger plans for Cohen and they finally unveiled them Sunday.
So there are a few things to take away from Cohen's jaw dropping debut.
1. The Bears opponent, the Falcons, allowed the most receptions to running backs in the NFL last season. You may recall James White piling up 14 receptions on them in the Super Bowl. So the Bears clearly were attacking a weakness in the Atlanta defense.
2. The Bears also have a plan for Cohen and are getting him on the field as much as possible. The Bears are using him as a traditional change of pace RB, as a receiver out the backfield, in the slot and split wide, as well as handling punt return duties. While the volume of offensive touches might not be a consistent 13 every week, it's evident that he has quite the ceiling.
3. The Bears are depleted of talent on offense and with the receiving corp getting even thinner after Kevin White's season ending injury the Bears may be forced to utilize Cohen as a receiver even more. The 12 targets Cohen received in Week 1 are a little ridiculous to expect going forward but it's certainly possible we've only seen the beginning.
Cohen looks like a souped up Theo Riddick and is legit flex play going forward in PPR formats with obvious week winning upside. The only downside to Cohen is that due to his size and stature he will always be apart of a committee if Jordan Howard were to go down.
2. HOLD Jordan Howard
While Cohen looked incredible let us not get carried away. Howard still out-snapped Cohen 38 to 28 and was the between the tackles back.
I think the situation we're seeing here is similar to the Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman debate from the beginning of last year. It's alright to say that both of these players are good and each has their valuable role in the offense. Now the Bears offense isn't in the same class as Atlanta's from a year ago but in a nutshell, I still think it's safe to say that Howard will get his 15-20 touches a game including the all important red zone carries while Cohen does his thing on passing downs.
The idea that Jordan Howard was a bonafide RB1 and Top 20 overall pick coming into this year was a little odd to me due to how poor he was as a receiver as a rookie (7 drops on 50 targets), the Bears bringing in receiving backs such as Benny Cunningham and Tarik Cohen, and the Bears being a poor club in general and having many negative (pass happy) game scripts in the future.
With that being said I still think Howard is a very solid RB2, in the same company as a Crowell and Doug Martin. Let's be honest, there are only like 6-8 legit bell-cow RB's in today's NFL so hold onto him and let's see how everything shakes out. Now actually might be the perfect time to put a feeler into the Howard owner in your league to see if he's willing to sell cheap.
3. BUY Buck Allen
As I mentioned earlier Danny Woodhead will be on the shelf for 4-6 weeks after reaggravating a hamstring strain. I would bet on his absence being closer to 6-weeks than 4. In Woodhead's absence, Buck Allen is likely to handle the majority of the passing down work while sprinkling carries between the tackles. Baltimore threw the 2nd most passes to running backs last season so Allen could have flex worthy play in PPR formats.
4. BUY Alvin Kamara
Sean Payton hates Mark Ingram for no reason, Adrian Peterson is washed and New Orleans spent a 2nd rounder on Kamara.
Kamara led the Saints in rushes, rushing yards, and snaps in Week 1. Mark Ingram paced the backfield in yards from scrimmage and I still think he's the back to own in New Orleans but Kamara's piece of the pie will be bigger than expected if New Orleans defense is as bad as they played on Monday night. If that's the case that means New Orleans will be playing from behind and that means fewer snaps for Peterson and more for Kamara and Ingram. And I'll remind you that last season there were a few weeks where both Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower were huge fantasy plays.
5. BUY Cooper Kupp
Remember that small school WR that everyone loved this time last year? I'm talking about Tajae Sharpe. Yeah, that flamed out quick. Well, I'm here to tell you that Kupp is not a Preseason or Week 1 wonder and he's a guy that needs to be scooped up in all formats. Kupp's chemistry with Goff carried over into the regular season. In 39 snaps, Kupp was targeted 6 times for 4 receptions, 78 yards, and a TD. If you're not familiar with Kupp think of Jordan Matthews size and usage, with better hands but with just 4.60 speed. I think Kupp is on his way to something like a 70/850/6 rookie season.
6. BUY Marlon Mack
Mack still needs to compete with the ageless wonder Frank Gore and Bullet Bob Turbin for touches but sooner or later Mack's raw talent should create the opportunity to take over the backfield. It's a great sign that Mack saw 11 touches (10 Rushes, 1 Reception) on his 17 snaps and he really should have been credited with 2 TD's last week if Chuck Pagano wasn't inept and actually used his challenge flag. This is more of a preemptive pickup since you shouldn't throw Mack into any lineup with confidence for the time being but in deeper bench leagues I would see if I could fit Mack on my roster to see what happens.
7. SELL TY Hilton
Sell TY Hilton while his stock isn't at rock bottom. Andrew Luck is likely still a month away from returning. He's already been ruled out for Week 2, has yet to return to practice so it's unlikely they would rush him into action Week 3, and Week 4 the Colts are playing in Seattle. Let's pray to God the Colts use some judgment and keep him out that week.
TY Hilton is a great player but he's barely a fantasy factor with Luck out of the lineup and it's still uncertain when he'll be back. These stats are per Graham Barfield of Fantasy Guru, but here are TY Hilton's weekly fantasy finishes when Andrew Luck does not play: WR30, WR27, WR50+, WR10, WR50+, WR20, WR50+, WR40, and WR50+.
If you could flip TY Hilton for someone like Stefon Diggs, Golden Tate, Davante Adams of the like I would pull the trigger.
8. DROP Darren McFadden
What a terrible week for Darren McFadden owners. If you took my advice and used a pick on him I apologize. Ezekiel Elliott will now be able to play this whole season and to make things worse McFadden was a healthy scratch on Sunday night after clearly running with the 1's all preseason. There is no reason to hold McFadden as there is no clear backup in Dallas at the moment.
9. DROP Eddie Lacy
Fat Eddie's time may be nearing the end. From Top 10 pick just 2 years ago to getting passed up by UDFA RB's in just a few weeks of camp. Lacy saw the 3rd most snaps (7) of the 3 active Seattle RB's and that doesn't even factor in Seattle choosing to rest Thomas Rawls an extra week as he recovers from his high ankle sprain. Seattle has a horrid offensive line and right now Lacy is competing for the 3rd spot at best on the depth chart. It's time to cut the cord.
10. BUY Nelson Agholor
Agholor tied for the team lead with 8 targets in Week 1 and turned that into 6 receptions for 86 yards and a TD. Throughout the latter parts of the offseason, there were drum beats that Agholor would over take Jordan Matthews as the slot WR in the Eagles offense. Those rumors came to be true shortly after, as the Eagles decided to trade Matthews to Buffalo. Much of Agholor's yardage came off of a busted coverage that resulted in a long TD but the Eagles clearly schemed some touches for Agholor. Don't go overboard to obtain Agholor as there are plenty of mouths to feed in Philly but there is certainly WR3 upside here.