During training camp and preseason, Bears fourth-round RB Tarik Cohen pick impressed the team so much, they felt comfortable enough to move on from former starter Jeremy Langford, who was cut following the conclusion of preseason action. Still, Cohen entered Week One third on the depth chart behind starter Jordan Howard and pass-catching specialist Benny Cunningham. Unfortunately, Cunningham suffered a serious ankle injury early in the game and had to be carted off. We don’t know any more details about his status, but bluntly, it might not matter.
Entering the game following the injury to Cunningham, Cohen looked like one of the best players on the field, both as a runner and receiver, plus some special teams action. Cohen had some highlight reel plays including a 46-yard run and a 19-yard touchdown reception. He finished the game with a total of 113 yards from scrimmage and another 45 kickoff return yards. Mix in his touchdown reception among his six catches and Cohen finished with over 20 fantasy points in most scoring formats. His 12 targets in the passing game were more than any player in action on Week One, outside of four receivers. Not bad for a mid-round draft pick who wasn’t on the majority of redraft rosters. He’ll easily be the hottest name on this week’s waiver wire.
Also, his Week One breakout tells us a lot about Howard as well. I don’t expect Howard to just fade away, as we saw with his predecessor Langford, but the presumed lack of involvement in the passing game and the loss of a handful of carries each game will obviously affect his value. Howard saved his fantasy day with a touchdown, but still totaled just 66 yards on 18 touches in what became a near even split as the Bears attempted a comeback against defending NFC champion Atlanta. The announcers told the story when late in the game in a crucial fourth down play, they were shocked to see Howard, not Cohen, in the game. Things change quickly in the NFL.
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A year ago, we saw Chargers WR Keenan Allen go down with a torn ACL that ended his season almost before it began. This year, it is Jaguars WR Allen Robinson suffering the same fate. Robinson stepped out of bounds awkwardly on his only reception of the game, a 17 yarder and was quickly ruled out for the remainder of the game. That was a bad sign for Jags fans and fantasy players and our fears were realized as the team made the official announcement following the game. With Robinson, set to enter free agency following the season, now out of the lineup, expect the Jaguars to become even more of a run-heavy offense. QB Blake Bortles turned into a game manager on Sunday and the Jags’ coaching staff has to hope that can continue. With promising rookie WR Dede Westbrook already on the injured reserve list, the team will look to WRs Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns, both of whom have been banged up this preseason, to serve as the top options in the passing game. Rookie RB Leonard Fournette could be much more involved in the passing game than anyone expected.
The Los Angeles Rams hired a new head coach this offseason, bringing former Redskins OC Sean McVay in to run the team, becoming the youngest HC in the league. We don’t want to assume too much based on one game against a terrible Colts roster, but that move is already paying off. The Rams dominated the Colts from the start, led by their defense, which became the first team ever to record two pick six interceptions and a safety in a season opener. In fact, if you didn’t roster the Rams defense, you had a tough time winning any DFS matchups. The LA offense looked much different than the Jeff Fisher era, too. QB Jared Goff posted his first career 300-yard game along with a touchdown and no interceptions. He targeted rookie WR Cooper Kupp often, resulting in a 4/76/1 stat line. He also made use of former Bills WR Sammy Watkins, who caught all five of his targets for 58 yards. Finally, RB Todd Gurley looked like a different player, though his box score still left something to be desired. He totaled 96 yards and a score, but did much of his damage as a receiver.
Unfortunately, there was more injury news and it could be terrible news for many fantasy players. After making a leaping grab just outside the end zone as the Cardinals attempted to comeback from behind, RB David Johnson took a nasty shot to the mid-section. He had to be helped off the field, but returned a few plays later. His first touch upon returning to the field resulted in a lost fumble and he was then once again checked on the sidelines. The Cardinals announced he was questionable to return with a wrist injury and we didn’t see the superstar for the remainder of the game. There is still some uncertainty about the injury, which has been called a sprained wrist, but ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported a team source expects Johnson miss at least a few weeks. Meanwhile, ProFootballTalk.com reported that it has yet to be determined if Johnson will miss any time. This will clearly be a huge story to follow as Johnson undergoes further testing early this week. His loss would leave Kerwynn Williams, who scored a rushing touchdown on Sunday, and Andre Ellington and the remaining backs and would essentially cripple the entire Cardinals offense.
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With QB Tom Savage struggling, the Texans turned to rookie QB Deshaun Watson. He couldn’t lead a comeback against the strong Jaguars defense, but did throw for 102 yards and a touchdown, adding in 16 rushing yards. He’ll likely be the Texans’ starter moving forward. … Redskins WR Jamison Crowder was deemed healthy enough to play Sunday, but was in and out of the lineup, finishing with just 14 yards on three receptions. Once healthy, he should be a reliable target for QB Kirk Cousins. … Rookie WR Kenny Golladay had an impressive debut, catching four of his seven targets for 69 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He started hot in preseason, but was then slowed by an injury that may have kept him on waiver wires. If so, he’ll be another top target this week. … Veteran RB Marshawn Lynch made his return to the field, totaling 92 yards, but failing to reach the end zone. The Raiders are clearly trying to manage his touches, especially late in the game. … On an ugly Jets roster, RB Bilal Powell had been viewed as the only attractive fantasy asset, but he came up flat Sunday, totaling 39 yards on a dozen touches. This offense is going to be as bad as we thought and it might be best to simply avoid. … Once again, Bears WR Kevin White has suffered a serious injury. ESPN beat writer Dan Graziano reports the team fears White broke his collarbone, which would require season-ending surgery. Today marked White’s fifth game in three seasons since entering the league. With Cameron Meredith already out for the year, this would move WR Kendall Wright even higher up the ranks and it might even make someone like Deonte Thompson or Josh Bellamy an option in deep leagues. … The Bengals were shut out at home and much of the blame goes to QB Andy Dalton, who totaled 170 passing yards, but threw four interceptions and never gave his team much of a chance. … Another Ohio QB fared a little better. Rookie DeShone Kizer made his debut, throwing for 222 yards and accounting for a pair of touchdowns as the Browns put up a fight against the Steelers, before losing by a field goal. … I mentioned the impressive showing of the Rams defense and their opponent, QB Scott Tolzien was partially responsible for that, throwing a pair of pick sixes before being benched for QB Jacoby Brissett. With a report early Sunday that suggested QB Andrew Luck could miss up to a month, the Colts may be forced to roll with Brissett in the coming weeks. … The Packers offense started slowly, but picked up in the second half and held on to defeat Seattle. QB Aaron Rodgers threw for over 300 yards and one score, finding WR Jordy Nelson. … The Panthers were a team set on changing their offense based on the moves they made this offseason, namely their first-round draft pick, RB Christian McCaffrey. Run CMC had a solid, but unspectacular debut, totaling 85 yards as a highly active part of both the passing and ground game for the Panthers. … It was a rough day to be a Houston Texans TE as all three of their active players at that position are now in the concussion protocol. Starter C.J. Fiedorowicz and top backup Ryan Griffin left the game with head injuries, forcing Stephen Anderson into extended action, but he was later shown to have concussion symptoms as well. With the Texans playing on Thursday, they may be forced to sign a free agent or two. … The Eagles and QB Carson Wentz had a huge day against the Redskins defense. Wentz finished with 307 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He connected with TE Zach Ertz on all eight targets for 93 yards. … The Lions running game was a bust on Sunday. As he often does, RB Theo Riddick saved his fantasy day thanks to his receiving ability, and even scored a touchdown, but the same can’t be said for starter Ameer Abdullah, who averaged two yards per carry on his 15 for 30 day…The Raiders made a concerted effort to use WR Amari Cooper in the red zone, giving him four early RZ targets, but he only hauled one in, finishing with a 5/62/1 stat line that could’ve been much better, considering he saw 13 targets. … Bills RB LeSean McCoy was a huge chunk of the Buffalo offense, as expected. McCoy totaled 159 yards, but was kept out of the end zone. … Falcons QB Matt Ryan connected with TE Austin Hooper on a pair of big plays, giving the second-year TE a monster 2/128/1 season debut, good enough for an overall TE2 finish, pending MNF. … The Bengals running game was a hot topic among fantasy players entering the regular season, but was an overall flop. Giovani Bernard led the way with 79 total yards, but both Jeremy Hill and rookie Joe Mixon managed just 24 total yards each. This is another spot to avoid, for now. … Veteran WR Kenny Britt was a favorite of many analysts as it looked like he could dominate the target share in Cleveland. That wasn’t the case during the preseason though and it didn’t happen in Week One either. Britt saw just three targets, catching one of 13 yards. He can’t be used in lineups until further notice. … Packers RB Ty Montgomery saw a career high number of carries and ended the game with a solid 93 yards against a stingy Seattle defense. Both his usage and his production against one of the league’s best fronts bodes well for his outlook this year, though his trip to the sidelines was a stark reminder of the injury history Montgomery has dealt with. … Panthers WR Kelvin Benjamin looked like a sure thing as the clear top wideout for QB Cam Newton, but KB caught just one of his five targets for 25 yards. Despite getting the easy win in San Fran, the Panthers offense looked rough. … The Giants offense was missing star WR Odell Beckham, still recovering from a preseason ankle injury, and we all realized how bad this team is without OBJ. QB Eli manning spread things around in the second half, but this offense was terrible for most of the game, failing to reach the end zone. Veteran WR Brandon Marshall was especially bad, failing to haul in any of his three targets. … Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins ended with a nice 7/55/1 line, but he needed a league-high 16 targets to reach those numbers. … WR Alshon Jeffery made his Eagles’ debut and didn’t make much of a dent, hauling in three balls for 38 yards in Philly’s big division win…The Lions were able to come back for a fourth quarter victory, led by QB Matthew Stafford (292 passing yards, four touchdowns) and WR Golden Tate (10/107). … Titans WR Corey Davis made his NFL debut after missing much of the preseason and was highly impressive, catching six passes for 69 yards on a team-high 10 targets. … The Jets added multiple players as NFL rosters were being finalized and two of them led the team in receiving. Former Seattle WR Jermaine Kearse led the team with 59 yards on seven catches and former Giants TE Will Tye posted 3 for 34…Superstar WRs Julio Jones (4/66) and A.J. Green (5/74) failed to standout as their seasons began, but both remain clear top options…RB Danny Woodhead was a top target early for the Ravens, catching three targets for 33 yards, but suffered an apparent hamstring injury and did not return. He also dealt with this injury during the preseason and could miss some time. … Steelers WR Martavis Bryant made his return to the field after a year-long suspension, but he wasn’t a huge part of the offense, catching two passes for 14 yards. Instead, teammate Antonio Brown once again dominated, catching all 11 targets for 182 yards. … The Seattle backfield is another one that will be difficult to project. Sunday, Thomas Rawls was out with an injury, while rookie Chris Carson totaled 39 yards on six carries, thanks to a 30-yard scamper. Veteran RB Eddie Lacy had more carries (5) than yards (3) and C.J. Prosise totaled 11 yards one four carries. I’m staying away. … Former Redskins WR Pierre Garcon has the key signing for the 49ers after the hiring of new HC Kyle Shanahan and he saw a team-high 10 targets in Week One, catching six balls for 81 yards. Garcon should be a reliable weekly option in PPR leagues. … RB Ezekiel Elliott was in fact in the lineup and added another 100-yard rushing game, 104 yards to be exact, to his resume as the Cowboys disposed of the G-Men. It also looks like Elliott’s suspension will now be pushed back to 2018 and he could play the entire 2017 season. … Another impressive RB was Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette, who hit the century mark on the dot and added his first career touchdown. … The Eagles dumped WR Jordan Matthews this preseason, in part, due to the impressive play of WR Nelson Agholor, and he showed that in Week One, catching six of eight targets for 86 yards and a touchdown. He’s lining up in the slot, but he’s essentially the second wideout as veteran Torrey Smith will be a boom/bust option. … Although he didn’t throw a touchdown pass, Titans QB Marcus Mariota had a solid debut, throwing for over 250 yards and rushing for 26 more along with a rushing TD. … The Bills’ offense was one to watch considering they had traded away WR Sammy Watkins and then dealt with the surprise retirement of veteran WR Anquan Boldin. Many thought the go-to option would be rookie WR Zay Jones, but he caught just one of his four targets. TE Charles Clay looked the part with a 4/53/1 line on the day. … Veteran WR Jeremy Maclin made his Ravens debut and connected with QB Joe Flacco on a long touchdown, one of his two grabs for 56 yards. … Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell disappointed fantasy owners, totaling just 47 yards and no touchdowns on the day. … Packers WR Randall Cobb had a big day while the Seattle defense focused on shutting down Davante Adams. Cobb caught nine passes for 85 yards and was QB Aaron Rodgers’ most targeted receiver. … QB Cam Newton is coming off an offseason surgery and was still quite rusty, badly missing open receivers. He finished with 171 passing yards and two scores and his fantasy numbers looked much better than his actual performance. … WR Terrelle Pryor debuted for the Redskins and caught six for 66, but saw 11 targets and dropped a touchdown in the end zone.
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