As a talent, O.J. Howard is sensational. He plays nearly every down because he's a very good receiver and blocker. But after the Buccaneers signed Cameron Brate to a contract extension this offseason, Howard's Fantasy profile wasn't as shiny. That's because Brate figures to keep Howard's opportunities limited, especially in the red zone. Last year Howard scored six times, but only three came inside the 20. Brate, on the other hand, scored five of his six touchdowns in the red zone and had nearly twice as many targets as Howard. So, unless Howard picks up more long scores or unseats Brate as the go-to tight end, he'll be difficult to trust. Hang on to him in dynasty leagues but in seasonal formats, you're better off considering George Kittle and David Njoku as late-round tight ends.
Howard played 13 snaps in the Buccaneers' 26-24 preseason win over the Dolphins on Thursday but was not targeted. Despite the empty stat line, big things are expected from Howard in Year 2, with the coaching staff emphasizing that they want to use his considerable pass-catching talents with greater frequency than they did during his rookie campaign. Howard and position mate Cameron Brate are projected to often share the field and see a fairly even workload split overall in 2018. While that was essentially the case Thursday -- Brate played only four more snaps overall -- the latter was targeted on five occasions, while Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't look Howard's way once over the first two possessions.
Howard made several impressive plays during Wednesday's practice, Carmen Vitali of the Buccaneers' official site reports. The second-year player was lauded by head coach Dirk Koetter after practice, with Howard's long touchdown reception from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick representing the tight end's top highlight of the day. In addition to Howard's pass-catching contributions, Vitali notes that the 23-year-old has looked improved as a blocker. The 2017 first-round pick is slated to once again share time with Cameron Brate at tight end this season, although the Bucs are expected to get Howard more involved as a downfield threat than he was during his rookie season.
Howard is slated to catch passes from backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick for the first three games of the 2018 regular season in the wake of Jameis Winston's expected suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. The development may not be as gloomy for Howard's fantasy prospects as might appear at first blush. After all, the second-year tight end brought in six of eight targets for 104 yards and a touchdown with Fitzpatrick at the helm in Weeks 11 and 12 last season, with the veteran quarterback favoring him over position mate Cameron Brate in those contests. Moreover, Howard's considerable physical talent -- as well as a greater knowledge of both head coach Dirk Koetter's offense and opposing defenses in Year 2 -- should be of great benefit to him irrespective of who's under center this coming season.
Howard (ankle) said Thursday that he is a full-go moving forward, Scott Smith of the Buccaneers' official site reports. Howard ended his rookie season on injured reserve after suffering a right ankle injury in a Week 15 loss to the Falcons. However, after four months of rehab, the former Alabama standout should be a full participant in the rest of the Buccaneers' offseason activities. He finished his rookie year with 26 catches for 432 yards and six touchdowns, and after starter Cameron Brate re-signed with the team this offseason, Howard will likely continue to split reps at tight end this season.
Howard (ankle) should continue to grow in a role that's different from that of teammate Cameron Brate, who recently signed a six-year, $41 million contract that includes $18 million guaranteed, ESPN.com's Jenna Laine reports. When Tampa Bay drafted Howard 19th overall last year, it was easy to envision a scenario in which he'd slowly be worked into the offense before eventually supplanting Brate atop the depth chart. The team instead has carved out separate roles for the two players, with Howard mostly serving as a traditional in-line tight end while Brate operates as an H-back and oversized slot receiver. The Bucs will find ways to keep both on the field at the same time, but it could be a bit of a challenge in an offense that also needs to find snaps for wideouts Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries behind starters Mike Evans and Adam Humphries. Barring a trade to free up the logjam of pass catchers, it's hard to see Howard getting the kind of target volume that's needed for stellar fantasy production. He was extremely efficient with his 39 targets as a rookie, catching 26 for 432 yards (16.6 YPR, 11.1 YPT) and six scores in 14 games. He missed the final two weeks due to an ankle injury, but with no report regarding surgery in the time since, he'll likely be available in April for the start of the offseason program.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||@New Orleans Saints||5||5.22|
|11||11/18||@New York Giants||32||10.69|
|12||11/25||San Francisco 49ers||18||6.75|
|14||12/09||New Orleans Saints||5||5.22|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||39||26||432||6||19||16.62||75|