You’re going to have your highs and lows with Jordan Howard, as we’ve seen over the last two years. Last season: 8 games with 18+ carries and 6 games with 13 or less carries. His lack of ability as a pass-catcher took him off the field and will likely continue to take him off the field in most pass-catching situations, unless there is a need to stay in and block, which he does well. This means we live and die by his touches solely in the running game. If the Bears get into a deficit, will Howard be a liability on the field if they go pass-heavy? Probably.
All that being said, Howard has been one of the best running backs in the league since he was drafted two seasons ago. He’s tied with Ezekiel Elliott with the most 100-yard games over the last two seasons. Even with all the inconsistency in his touch numbers on a per game basis, he was 6th in rushing yards last season, and 2nd to Zeke in 2016. I blame a lot of his inconsistency on John Fox and the offensive play calling, as the Bears shied away from the run too many times while still in games. They would even take Howard out in some goal line situations, which I can’t imagine the Bears doing under their new regime.
Looking forward, Matt Nagy brings a fresh and proven offensive playbook to the Bears, which has a lot of Bears fans excited. As far as the run game, the focus will shift to inside zone runs, which better fits Howard’s skillset as a downhill, in-between the tackles runner. Not only that, but they’re working hard to improve Howard’s pass-catching skills. He took the first step in improving his pass-catching vision, literally – with eye surgery in 2017. With Howard and the coaching staff putting in the work, it’s possible Howard isn’t a zero in the passing game, and can come through with 30-40 catches this season.
But can you trust that everything will line up for Howard in 2018? He’s being drafted at the top of the 3rd in PPR leagues and in the middle of the 2nd in non-PPR. Is that too high for you, or are you comfortable taking him there? The latter means taking him before McCoy and Freeman… not sure I would be able to do that, unless I’m looking for some serious upside. I do think McCoy and Freeman will return more consistent fantasy numbers on a weekly basis because of their ability in the passing game. Nagy did say that each game is different when talking about using Howard as a workhorse, so it’s possible his touch numbers won’t be as consistent as we would like them to be in 2018.
What are you thoughts on Howard? Is his upside in Nagy’s offense too much to pass up at his ADP? Or will you pass unless he drops a bit? Let me know!