Late Round Darlings: Jordan Howard
With startup season approaching I'm starting a series to help you target some late round picks that can fill depth or be early season contributors, whatever your draft strategy is, zero rb, trade back for rookies, smash quarterbacks early in super-flex startups (I've experimented with all of these), you're going to need to have later round players and in-sreason waiver darlings to round out your roster. Like the saying goes "Everyone can hit rounds 1-3, championships are won in rounds 12-15". That might be a boxing quote but it definitely applies.
The Lunchbox RB:
First up is a running back who started his career with back to back 1,100+ yard rushing seasons, has a nose for the endzone and has played 57 consecutive NFL games prior to missing time in 2019. The Running back that brings that lunchbox to work every day? Current Miami Dolphins starter Jordan Howard. Like any player, there are Pros and Cons.
Let's start with the cons.
Miami is going to draft a running back early
Howard doesn't catch passes
Miami's offense isn't in the redzone enough
This is Howard's third team in 5 years
To brush the fourth and final point under the rug: When Matt Nagy was named head coach of the Bears, Howard was deemed expendable as he seemed to tip the offense's hand when he was out there. He also wasn't efficient despite amassing 2,435 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs in the two seasons prior to Nagy's arrival in The Windy City. Even after a respectable 935 yards and 9 TDs in Nagy's maiden voyage, the Bears still shipped Howard off to Philly for a 6th round pick (flexed to a 5th). A cheap price to pay for a young durable thumper who could share work with a rookie. And that's exactly what happened.
In nine games as an Eagle, Howard racked up 525 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, and 6 touchdowns. He was the first Philly running back to total 500 yards, at least 4.4. yards per carry, and 6 touchdowns in the first nine games of a season since Shady in 2011.
Philadelphia was never the end game for Howard. That rolls us into the first point, if Miami does draft a running back early, why wouldn't they ease him into a full workload behind Jordan Howard? Howard is 25 years old, 6 feet tall, and 230 pounds, he's a natural bruiser. The best part about the Howard situation for Miami is if they do select a running back early and he busts, Miami has the option to keep Howard in 2021 or release him with zero dead cap.
Let's keep moving to the second point, Howard doesn't catch passes. While it's true, old stone hands - as I've heard him referenced - isn't the best pass catching back. I'll gladly tell you what he won't do: duck when passes are thrown his way, looking at you Kalen. Howard isn't Darren Sproles, but he's adequate enough to catch a screen pass out of the backfield.
Now the final Con, which isn't a knock on Howard but a stigma that accompanies the Miami Dolphins. Miami certainly did not visit the redzone enough. While they ranked 28th in redzone power rankings, there are reasons for optimism. Miami could draft Tua and let him redshirt while Fitzpatrick throws passes to a promising wideout group in Preston Williams and Devante Parker. I have hope that the Dolphins will improve as they look like a team on the come up.
Now that we've navigated the bad, and it doesn't look that bad, let's look at some of the Pros
This is his 5th professional season at 25 years old
He's proven durable
Patient and sets up his blocks.
Jumping off of my first point, he's still young at 25. If Miami were to let him walk after this upcoming season, Howard wouldn't scare teams off of another contract and a shared workload. The second point was his durability. 57 professional games without missing any is impressive in the NFL. That shows me two things. He's proven, and he's smart. You don't last taking unnecessary hits. Let's be honest, while in Chicago nobody was fearful of Mitch Trubisky killing them. As a result, Howard saw a lot of stacked boxes, which rolls right into my third point. Seeing stacked boxes, Howard was able to set up blocks and take more than what was given. He showed that with a decent QB he hadn't lost anything. Back to Philadelphia, he was on pace for double digit TDs and 1,000 or so yards. In three recent startups I've participated in, Howard has gone off the board between running back 36 and 39. Clear RB3 territory. That's easily a price I will pay for a running back that will almost surely provide a return on that investment. When drafting this early, Howard is a running back that I'll target every time, even if just to trade him.
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