Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen's Updated Fantasy Outlook After Week 1

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2017

Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard (24) dives into end zone for a touchdown against Atlanta Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant (21) and linebacker Deion Jones (45) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The Chicago Bears remained competitive throughout their season-opening 23-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons thanks largely to the production of running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.

That was music to the ears of fantasy owners, especially as Howard scored a touchdown right before the end of the half and Cohen scored in the fourth quarter.  

With that in mind, here is a look at fantasy reaction for both playmakers.

          

Jordan Howard

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Jordan Howard #24 of the Chicago Bears warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

While Cohen surprised as a difference-maker, there was little doubt who Chicago's primary between-the-tackles runner was as Howard racked up 13 carries for 52 yards to Cohen's five attempts for 66 yards.

He also scored his touchdown in the Wildcat set off a handoff from Cohen, so the Bears coaching staff was not afraid to have both on the field together.

The touchdown was particularly encouraging because he had just six on the ground last season despite a head-turning 1,313 rushing yards. Fantasy players need him to bolster his scoring numbers to go with the yardage, and he was off to an ideal start Sunday.

Howard's average of four yards per carry was not spectacular, but he showed physical toughness up the middle when Chicago demonstrated a willingness to give it to him in short-yardage situations in an effort to keep ahead of the chains.

The one concern about Howard for fantasy players is the fact he wasn't as involved in the passing game as Cohen. Howard finished with three catches for 14 yards on five targets compared to Cohen's team-high eight catches for 47 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 12 targets. If the rookie remains that formidable out of the backfield, it will cut into Howard's time on the field as a third-down back.

             

Tarik Cohen

Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

Cohen was not on the radar for many fantasy players as a fourth-round pick from North Carolina A&T, but he was after Sunday's game.

While Cohen probably isn't physical enough to be an every-down back at the NFL level at 5'6", he was effective as a change-of-pace runner with 66 yards on his five carries.

It is unrealistic for fantasy players to expect him to consistently average 13.2 yards per carry, but he demonstrated what should be his true long-term value as a shifty pass-catcher and even hauled in a touchdown through the air.

He caught the eye of Chris Emma of 670 The Score in the process:

What's more, the Bears announced running back Benny Cunningham suffered an ankle injury Sunday. If Cunningham is dealing with health problems, there will be even more opportunity for Cohen to rack up fantasy points alongside Howard.

That makes him worth a bench spot and perhaps even a role as a flex player down the line.