Perhaps one of the most underrated or most disrespected running backs in fantasy football is Jordan Howard. After bursting on the scene two years ago, many look at his sophomore year as a disappointment. Howard is only 23 years old and is now part of a new look Chicago Bears offense. New Head coach Matt Nagy is ready to get Howard even more involved in the offense and second year quarterback Mitch Trubisky is ready to take the next step in his evolution. The latest Fantasy Spotlight focuses on why Jordan Howard deserves more respect.
2018 Fantasy Spotlight: Jordan Howard
Due to the overwhelming success of both Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott, Howard’s rookie campaign was overlooked. Nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, Howard averaged 5.2 YPC (yards per carry) rushed for 1,313 yards and scored six touchdowns in only 13 games started. Many people forget that Jeremy Langford, amongst others opened the season as the lead back in Chicago. However, it was Howard that took on the lead role and ran with it. His yardage total was second best in the league. Despite only starting the 13 games his 15.4 fantasy points per game was good for ninth best overall. According to playerprofiler.com he finished eighth in snap share (73.3%) and seventh in opportunity share (72.7%), both categories that are essential to any running backs success. If not for Elliott and Prescott, Jordan Howard certainly would’ve been the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Second Act
As is the case with many things in life when something new comes along we tend to forget about what he already had. That was certainly the case in 2017 with Howard. Rookie Tarik Cohen became an integral part of the Bears offense using his slight size and electric speed. With runs of 36 and 46 yards to go along with 20 receptions during his first three games, Cohen had fantasy owners starting to forget about Howard’s 2016 production. Howard did nothing to help them remember either. During the first two games of the season, Howard ran for a combined 59 yards on 22 carries. Many began to wonder if Howard was a flash in the pan, but that idea was quickly squashed. During the Bears 23-17 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Howard re-introduced himself to the fantasy world. He ran for 140 yards on 23 carries and scored twice. He even added 5 receptions for a 31.6 (full pt PPR) fantasy week. Despite being in a John Fox-led offense that struggled most of the year, Howard still managed to finish as the RB14.
The Year Ahead
What should we expect from Howard in Year three? If you listen to head coach Matt Nagy, we should expect to see Howard’s best season yet. If we believe that the Bears will be better in the Nagy-run offense then Howard should be an RB1 in 2018. The Bears were already efficient in the red-zone last year, scoring 61% of the time, good enough for sixth best. The problem was they didn’t get there enough, finishing 31st of 32 teams in red-zone trips. As long as the offense improves Howard will get more carries inside-the-20 than the five he got last season. The passing game will be improved with the additions of Allen Robinson, rookie Anthony Miller and Trey Burton, while Trubisky will take the next step in his progression.
Take advantage of his unreasonably low ADP. Howard is currently the RB14 on fantasypros.com and is being drafted towards the end of round three after “scatbacks” like Jerick McKinnon and Christian McCaffrey. Nagy wants Howard to be a three-down back and if that’s the case the value on Howard is tremendous. Howard will approach double-digit touchdowns and see an uptick in involvement in the passing game. 2018 will be Howard’s re-introduction into fantasy football stardom.
Projections: 1,371 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 38 receptions.
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