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This is going to be the best football season in a long time. Why? Because it looks like much of the old guard is fading away or just definitely not as good as we all thought they would be. The Patriots are not insurmountable. Seattle is just about over. Atlanta, defending Super Bowl runners-up, should be/could be 1-2 right now. Dallas got showed up Denver…then Denver got beat down by Buffalo. I hope you're ready to live in a world where Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, and the LA Rams are in the playoffs. About the only top team from last season that is performing at or above expectation is the Kansas City Chiefs. I don't think anybody's writing them in pen for the Super Bowl either.
My Dallas-KC Super Bowl prediction doesn’t look so dumb now does it?
It's too early to confidently declare what teams are a top Super Bowl threat or not because early last season the Packers and Steelers were struggling for half the season before going on huge win streaks to close the season. No one thought the good Dallas start last season meant anything after 3-4-5 weeks. Minnesota was considered the best team in football after five weeks last season…and then didn’t make the playoffs. Let's not go too overboard with where we are at in the football season. The only thing I have confidence in is that I have no confidence in any team winning the Super Bowl now…and I love it.
The Steelers, I thought maybe they could seize the mantle of best football team…nope. Not yet. Probably not going to happen. Ben Roethlisberger is becoming this team's undoing.
There's two Big Ben's dropping back to pass. There is the one that still has 'it', one of the best QBs to ever play the game. Then there is the arrogant, sloppy Big Ben who thinks he can just fling the ball somewhere without his feet planted and momentum into the throw and still thinks something good will magically happen. You used to could live with a little gunslinger Ben because he was so good and rarely bad. Now, I see him making more and more ill-advised throws…he's lucky his interception rate isn't growing faster. Ben's not taking care of the ball and the Steelers won a bunch of games in a row last year when they pushed Ben down and just ran like every play. That's a bad omen for Ben in fantasy – the volume is just not in the cards anymore. It's why he hasn’t had a 300+ yard passing game in his last nine regular-season games…or in 11 of his last 12…or in 13 of his last 15 including playoff games. Old Ben is dying and Mike Tomlin is trying to hide it…which is smart.
It's not that Ben is awful, but he's becoming more sketchy every week. 17 offensive points at Cleveland Week 1. 26 points at home vs. MIN, but luckily Xavier Rhodes was banged up. Week 3…17 points vs. the Bears. Ben's last nine games, including playoffs: 12 TD/10 INT. It's not over, it's just fading away.
Ben is still good enough to win a Super Bowl with a great running game and emerging defense. He's just not going to carry your fantasy team anymore…and he hasn't since early last season.
The first play of this game was Martavis Bryant (2-30-0/8) sprinting deep, wide-open by 5+ yards and Ben overthrew him. That's becoming more of an issue every week.
Don’t just blame the Steelers for losing this game – the Bears won it. As I semi-predicted they would. Consider this for a moment – the Bears had the Falcons beat but Jordan Howard dropped the game-winning TD late in Week 1. They just now beat the Steelers. The Bears should have already notched wins against two of the final 4 teams in the NFL last season. This happening without any WR play at all, Mike Glennon at QB, and an unidentifiable defense. I wouldn’t be so quick to lay 7.5 points to them at Green Bay this Thursday night. This Bears defense is better than given credit. Their offense is a different kind of good/decent.
If the Bears beat Green Bay this week…they should then have notched wins against three of the final four teams in the NFL last season. Look out, Patriots!!
-- Have mentioned how much I like Tarik Cohen (12-78-0, 4-24-0/4)? No, well…then pull up a stool and let me tell ya'.
Here's the thing – Tarik Cohen is the most impressive, most dangerous skill position player in the NFL outside of Tyreek Hill. Every other touch is an adventure. He has such amazing 0-to-60 speed and a bulldog mentality/shape that he is figuratively that bowling ball knocking into pins…and the bowling ball is winning many times. He is breaking out of tackles with ease. He is reversing field and beating some of the fastest humans in the world as he goes back the other direction with ease. Most guys would be tackled for a five-yard loss on plays Cohen reverses direction into near TD events.
Cohen had one play in this game where he tried to speed to the edge and here came the greatest defensive athlete the NFL has ever seen – Ryan Shazier. When I saw Shazier speeding his way, I thought Cohen was done for but Tarik blasted past him and left Shazier diving at air. That's high-end. That's a one-percenter. That's special. Every other touch I see Cohen, I have the thought bubble of 'special' in my mind.
Cohen put this game out of its misery with a 78-yard TD run in OT, but he was called out of bounds and replay showed…nah-ahh. He was in. Cohen should have had 130+ total yards and a TD…and been a hero. Jordan Howard (23-138-2, 5-26-0/5) then finished the deed soon after.
Howard having such a big game has chased every fantasy expert away on Tarik Cohen. They don’t like their shiny toy from last week. It's dull and useless to them one week later. Why…because in their minds Tarik can’t beat out Howard, so they're done. They actually thought Cohen was going to beat out Howard – and that's where they thought the value was. What a pack of idiots.
For the thousandth time – Cohen is independent of Howard. Cohen lines up as a receiver more than at RB. He just happens to be so good at running the ball, the Bears do what the Chiefs don’t with Tyreek Hill – the Bears give Tarik 10 +/- carries to go along with however many targets.
Bears Target Leaders in 2017 to date…
25 = Cohen
18 = Zach Miller
14 = Kendall Wright
Cohen is the Bears best and primary receiving weapon…and he can also run the ball 5-12 times a game (averaging 8.0 carries per game YTD). He is the new era of football. John Fox figured it out before anyone else…taking what Andy Reid did in 2016 and doubling down on it.
In PPR, you simply must have Tarik Cohen. NonPPR it would be good too.
The beautiful thing is the experts/idiots are doing you a favor this week. They are talking him down because they never believed in the first place. They didn’t know what they had. They had a bar of gold and now they wonder why anyone would care about this yellow rock they found. Go take that yellow rock from them and return it to its rightful owner – me…I mean you. Me and you. Together. In Tarik We Trust.
I would also like to advance this thought about Tarik…
Because they are independent of each other, you can start Howard-Cohen simultaneously. So, how brilliant would it be to possess both? Then if one goes down, the other picks up some slack. How often do you have a handcuff you can play with the starter? You already have Tarik Cohen? Then Jordan Howard has exponentially more value to you than to others…and vice-versa if you have Howard but not Cohen right now.
Food for thought.
I guess I have to talk about something non-Cohen related now…
-- Le'Veon Bell (15-61-1, 6-37-0/7) is getting back to full Le'Veon mode. He's arguably the best RB/thing to go make a major trade for in redraft right now. Easier said than done. As the Steelers experience their Ben issue…they will do what they did 2nd-half 2016 – ride Bell. I think they're just waiting for Bell to get back up to speed.
Bell might be about to go on one of those fantasy runs you could only dream about, or experienced if you owned either Bell or David Johnson last year.
-- FYI, Mike Glennon (15-22 for 101 yards, 1 TD/1 INT) is completing 67.3% of his passes without any real WRs and Markus Wheaton dropping whatever they send his way.
The game flow in this one led to Glennon barely throwing a pass because the Bears were running it down the Steelers throat. It's why Cohen didn’t have bigger receiving numbers like he had been.
Had the Bears lost this game, I think Mitchell Trubisky might have been right around the corner. This win puts that theory on ice for a bit.
-- Speaking of Ryan Shazier (11 tackles, 2 TFLs) – here he comes to claim top defensive honors, I think…I hope. If he can finally go all 16 games. He is averaging 8.7 tackles per game so far in 2017.
-- I have a funny feeling JuJu Smith-Schuster (2-39-0/6) is about to happen…as the whacky #2 WR sidekick to Antonio Brown as Martavis Bryant fades into the background. Deep sleeper WR3.5 soon in PPR…JuJu. The snap counts. The plays they set up for him…I think he'll have a moment soon that announces something…and then you can use/trade him off that. Just a hunch.
-- Let's not turn a blind eye to the Bears defense either.
Held the Falcons pretty well in Week 1. 23 points and just 372 yards total.
Week 2 they gave up 22 offensive points to Tampa after everything went wrong in the first half they held the Bucs to an FG in the second half.
Week 3, they held the Steelers to 282 totally yards in an OT game.
12th in the league in yards allowed per game facing ATL-TB-PIT…that's not bad.
Snap Counts of Interest…
41 = Howard
28 = Cohen (16 touches on his 28 snaps)
46 = Deonte Thompson
40 = Markus Wheaton
35 = Kendall Wright
64 = Antonio
51 = JuJu
45 = Martavis
46 = Jesse James
16 = Vance McDonald