Atlanta came out of the gates moving the ball down the field and instantly you had to think – 'angry Super Bowl-losing Falcons out to prove things'. The Falcons settled for a field goal and were keeping the Bears in check early and then the Bears stole the rest of the game. The Bears took Atlanta's lead punch, survived, realized they were as good/better and held the bully down and repeatedly punched them in the face. The Bears blew this game – they should have won it. They had a chance with five shots within the red zone with seconds remaining, but couldn’t pull it off. Mike Glennon is better with more field to work with, he doesn't get the ball out fast like he had to in this goal line, do-or-die situation…and it cost the Bears. Mitchell Trubisky could have won them that game.
It wasn’t just the blowing it on the final four plays – the Bears were the better team most of the game. Atlanta scored a 4th quarter TD on a total bullshit play. Matt Ryan almost sacked near his own goal line, but scrambles luckily, finds Austin Hooper standing 50+ yards downfield with no one around him….a sack turned wild 88-yard score.
If I judged this as a beauty contest – the Bears won. If Trubisky had started – the Bears would have won. How many games will the Bears give up until they make the obvious QB change?
Because of this outcome, and preconceived notions, the home Falcons will be favored over Green Bay next week, and the Bears are already installed as a big underdog. I can already tell the Packers and Bears will be in my 'Blazing Five' picks against the spread for Week 2.
Fantasy player notes…
-- This game has one major note. Perhaps, the fantasy note of the week…Tarik Cohen (5-66-0, 8-47-1/12) is what we thought he might be…only way ahead of what I thought John Fox would have realized. Kudos to Coach Fox.
When I wrote that major piece about Tyreek Hill this preseason, I also briefly touched on Tarik Cohen as being a part of that theory…guys coming in who were 'signs' of the coming age of undersized, talented RBs being moved to hybrid RB/WR positions. Not just to note the NFL trend I thought I saw, but what a huge deal that would be for fantasy. I was all in on Tyreek, as you obviously know…and prosper from. I was curious but cautious on Cohen for Week 1…not sure if John Fox would be the kind of guy that would see 'it'…that would utilize 'it'.
We saw flashes of Cohen in the preseason – but never in the passing game. I warned the whole time…Cohen's real gift is how good he in the passing game. Tremendous hands. Well, it turned out…Fox was hiding this all along and unleashed it week one. Good job. The Tyreek copycats are slowly coming to the surface.
If I were re-doing my dynasty rookie draft top 250…I would move Cohen from just outside to the top 10 to firmly inside the top 10 now, after watching Week 1. Please understand one thing from this week with Cohen – this was the Bears lead punch with a rookie. Even rookie Tyreek Hill didn’t get this level of work/confidence like Cohen just did in his Week 1 last year…or for several weeks thereafter. Cohen got the push right away.
For those who didn't grab Cohen going into this season, there will be a small frenzy for him on waivers this week, obviously. Every fantasy analyst is going to say they knew he was a sleeper blah-blah-blah. But they will stop short. They won’t want to fully commit…for good reason. Cohen isn't replacing Jordan Howard (13-52-1, 3-14-0/5) as lead back. So, what will they want to pay for a PPR-only back? There will be some hesitation on investing in Cohen. 'Rookie' label will push the value higher some because people are rookie deranged and are blindly looking for any new, flashy thing. You/we already knew about Cohen. He won't be ignored by the masses, but they aren't as likely to make a major move either. They are in 'like'…we are in love.
WE should see Cohen as a starting WR, essentially, for the Bears…a backup RB likely to lead the team in targets and see plenty of handoffs. Figure 5-10 carries and 5-10 targets per game. I think that's what might be on the table with Cohen on a team with no real #1 or #2 WR…just a bunch of #3's.
I'm prepared to pay a major price for Cohen this week. If I miss due to no/low waiver priority…because I won a lot this week, and I don’t know how I did it looking at my guys scoring, but thank goodness for a down week around the league…I will pursue a trade because I don’t think people realize what they got here.
If anyone brings up to you in trade talks: "But Cohen got 8 catches this week!!!" Point out Shane Vereen got 9 catches…some of this is game flow (but it wasn't in Cohen's case). We need to get them focused away from realizing what they have.
For those of you who grabbed Cohen late in redrafts this past week or made the move in dynasty prior, I hope our work played a role in that. This may be our Tyrell Williams for 2017.
Two more things to note on Cohen's rise to power…
1: Benny Cunningham may be lost for the season due to injury, so Cohen will pick up more snaps because Cunningham was getting work too in the rotation.
2: The Bears ran a Wildcat near the goal line with Cohen as the QB. He handed it to Howard, who scored, but had Cohen kept it…would have been his 2nd TD. He was totally in the clear. Cohen nearly had three TDs in this game, but one officially.
Additional note…Kerwynn Williams or Tarik Cohen in free agency this week (if it comes down to it)? One of them will work all year, the other for a limited time engagement. I'll let you do the math.
-- Lost in the Tarik Cohen pop is the fact that Tevin Coleman (8-16-0, 4-42-0/6) is the Tarik Cohen of the Atlanta Falcons. I’d use this so-so stat line all day long to pry him away cheap in PPR leagues.
New O-C, no problem. I’d argue Coleman seemed more important than Devonta Freeman in this game/this offense – according to me watching and re-watching it. Freeman played 36 snaps to Colemans 24, but actual ball-in-hands was 12 times Coleman and 14 times Freeman.
Coleman was lining up as a receiver more than a few times…he is the multi-dimensional RB of the Falcons. Not used as passionately as Cohen, but he is that guy for the ATL…and probably cheaper to acquire today than Cohen, oddly.
-- Look, if you chase Austin Hooper (2-128-1/2) in free agency because of this week, then I have to pretend I don’t know you. Don’t waste your time.
The guy was literally forgotten in coverage on a broken play that seemed like Matt Ryan was about to be sacked, but he scrambled away and threw a pass that like a punt to Hooper…I thought Hooper might signal for a fair catch before he caught it. There was no one in camera shot as it headed his way.
Hooper caught the pass, then shedded the pursuing safety with a stiff arm and completed an 88-yard TD play. Hooper won't have 88 yards in a game this season again. He won't have 88-yards in any two back-to-back games he plays. It's an outlier event.
-- If you take out Julio Jones's (4-66-0/5) 12 catch/300-yard game vs. Carolina last year, and just added together the other 15 games he played in 2016 + this Week 1 (for 16 games total) the tally would be: 77 catches, 1,175 yards and 5 TDs.
4.8 catches for 73.4 yards and 0.31 TDs per game…9.3 FF PPG, 14.1 PPR.
Two TDs in his last nine regular-season games.
This is a WR1/top 5 guy in all of fantasy?
Remember, his 2016 'sag' in production comes off (1) getting paid, (2) working with the boy genius Kyle Shanahan. Matt Ryan is turning back into a pumpkin after a spiked 2016…so, what's half-asleep Julio going to produce with fading to 'the mean' Matt Ryan in 2017? For his status vs. reality – I'm a Julio seller and have been.
-- Just to note for the TE desperate…Zach Miller (4-39-0) played 60% of the offensive snaps. He was second on the team in targets in this game. Among all the TEs and WRs for the Bears…he's the best receiver they have. That's worth something, I guess?
-- Kevin White (2-6-0/4) has taken leave from the NFL once again. This guy… It's over. Who would touch this guy in 2018? What a waste of athleticism.
No White…no Meredith…so, now what? The best wide receiver the Bears have might be Deonte Thompson (1-15-0/2), but he's not all that great either. Markus Wheaton maybe steps up upon his return, but he's very shaky. I have long-shot Wheaton hopes, but that's about it.
-- Let me praise a defender here – Marcus Cooper (4 tackles, 1 PD) did a great job covering Julio Jones. Granted, it was Julio's nap time, Sunday's between 1pm-4pm ET, but Cooper still did well. He'll be one to watch for IDP because when Amukamara returns, because if Cooper starts across from him…QBs are going at Cooper. He should see nice IDP numbers.
Snap Counts of note…
47 = Kevin White
44 = Deonte Thompson
39 = Kendall Wright
33 = Josh Bellamy
38 = Jordan Howard
28 = Tarik Cohen
31 = Taylor Gabriel
15 = Justin Hardy
49 = Duke Riley (73% of D snaps)
30 = Vic Beasley
14 = Takk McKinley