Don't Sleep on Jordan Howard in Fantasy Football This Year
There is a certain amount of uncertainty that comes from joining a team with a rushing attack led by Ryan Fitzpatrick the season prior. Jordan Howard joins the Miami Dolphins on a two-year deal and figures to assume a significant workload from Week 1.
Miami was easily the worst rushing attack last season, but they addressed the glaring weakness by signing Howard and trading for Matt Breida.
Going into the 2020 season, Howard is being drafted just after the 93rd pick as the RB37, according to BestBall10’s 12-team July average draft position (ADP).
Let’s see if you can count of Howard to provide late-round upside in 2020.
Last season with the Philadelphia Eagles, Howard was actually pretty solid when he played.
He received a modest workload between Weeks 1-3, but it soon appeared that he was taking control of the RB1 duties in Doug Peterson’s infamous running-back-by-committee approach. This sentiment was gone after he suffered what was essentially a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 9 (he was active for Week 17 but received no touches).
From what we saw when Howard was healthy last season, there are reasons to believe in hidden upside at his current draft position. In 2019, Howard ranked top-20 in yards per attempt among running backs with at least 115 carries (4.41). He ultimately finished the season with 525 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns.
Advanced metrics back the fact that Howard was outperforming what his current ADP suggests. Among running backs with at least 115 carries, Howard ranked 7th in Rushing Success Rate (44.54%), 10th in Rushing Net Expected Points (NEP) per carry (0.07), and 13th in Rushing NEP (7.78).
What hindered Howard’s value was the volume he was given when he was on the field. According to Player Profiler, Howard was 30th in opportunity share (47.5%) and 42nd in snap share (44%). In the nine games he played, he recorded fewer than 12 carries four times and only saw 14 total targets in the passing game.
Howard’s efficiency led to him receiving more volume, but his season was cut short as he was gaining momentum.
Let’s see if the change of scenery will provide Howard the opportunity to prove he can handle workhorse volume.
Miami in 2020
It’s no secret Miami was the worst rushing team in the league during the 2019 season. Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing with a measly 243 rushing yards, and Kalen Ballage made history as the first player to finish a season with 60 or more rushing attempts while averaging less than 2 yards per carry. On top of that, the Dolphins' offensive line ranked dead last in the league in run blocking, according to Football Outsiders.
All these issues, including poor game scripts, forced the Dolphins into recording the second-highest pass-to-run ratio (1.93) and the lowest total rushing plays (349) in the league. The result was the fourth-worst Adjusted Rushing Net Expect Points per play in the league (-0.08) -- meaning they were one of the worst rushing offenses even when adjusting for schedule.
The Dolphins addressed these issues aggressively in the 2020 offseason. Not only did they sign Washington guard Ereck Flowers and New England center Ted Karras, but they drafted a plethora of offensive line reinforcement headlined by tackle Austin Jackson.
The biggest threat to Howard’s upside is splitting snaps with Breida. In Chan Gailey’s scheme, it is expected that they will split the workload, with Howard commanding a bit more work on the ground and Breida in the pass. In Gailey’s history, the most carries a single back has received in a season was Fred Jackson with 222 in 2010, so expectations remain tempered.
numberFire projects that Howard will finish with 156.75 rushing attempts in the timeshare with Breida. The algorithm has him posting 655.37 rushing yards and 5.22 rushing touchdowns.
It is doubtful that game scripts shift in Miami’s favor in 2020 and that Gailey will stray from his usual committee approach, especially given Howard’s injury history.
But based on last year's efficiency, Howard is a safe pick who will guarantee you a consistent workload with touchdown upside. He is a reliable RB4 option to fill in on bye weeks who comes with a nice floor.