Jordan Howard had more touches and more touchdowns in his second season than his first. But fears about Tarik Cohen taking work away from him along with steep declines in his rushing and receiving averages have Fantasy owners on edge heading into year three in Chicago. Cohen is certain to be involved in the Bears' new-fangled offense under coach Matt Nagy, but Howard should remain the genesis of the ground game and the goal-line hog. And while the Bears figure to be more pass-friendly under Nagy, it's the improved threats through the air that should give Howard some easier fronts to run against. That should turn his rushing average loose after it dipped to 4.1 yards per tote. It all adds up to Howard getting picked in late Round 2 or early Round 3, which should be more than acceptable given his back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and a 54.8 percent success rate in Fantasy. He might even surprise with a slight improvement in receptions given the new offensive system. It's fine if he's your No. 1 running back, but he's best as a No. 2 option.
Coach Matt Nagy stated that Howard's role in the Bears' backfield will be "game specific," Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Nagy also continued to confirm earlier offseason reports that he sees Howard as the "main guy," but he went on to say that in his offense, "it's game specific as to whether or not you need that." Nagy also indicated that the team is working with Howard, who caught 23 passes for 125 yards last season, to improve his receiving skills. Regardless of the potential that Howard improves in that regard, it's unlikely he'll turn out to be a better pass-catching option than Tarik Cohen, with Cohen thus likely be the team's main receiving back. That said, the fact that Howard is expected to be locked into early-down and goal-line work should ensure that he retains fantasy utility in 2018. The 23-year-old logged 276 carries (fifth-highest mark in the league) for 1,122 yards and nine TDs in 2017.
Coach Matt Nagy said Tuesday that Howard "absolutely" will serve as the Bears' featured running back in 2018, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to begin his career, Howard has proven himself effective as a lead back, but the jump in tempo from former offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains to Nagy is expected to be a massive one. As such, backup running back Tarik Cohen will receive "a bunch of touches," per Nagy. There's a chance Howard will uphold his previous standard of 18.7 touches per game, but Nagy's comments indicate his workload could be scaled back some to ensure he stays as fresh as possible. In the end, the Bears will be trotting out second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, so run-heavy game plans are a good bet to dominate in Chicago this fall.
After the Bears added three receiving weapons on the first day of free agency, Howard stands to benefit from a more versatile offense, Dan Weiderer of the Chicago Tribune reports. After facing stacked boxes on a regular basis due the the team's lack of weapons in 2017, Howard may finally find a bit of breathing room after the Bears now boast a much-improved group of receiving weapons. With the additions of Alan Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton to go along with holdovers Cam Meredith and Tarik Cohen, defenses will need to consistently respect the passing attack, which could lead to Howard returning to the 5.2 yards per carry he earned as a rookie before falling off to 4.1 last year due to the potential benefit of bigger running lanes. He also could see more red-zone carries if the offense is able to catch fire in head coach Matt Nagy's new offensive system. Even though fellow running back Tarik Cohen stands to eat into Howard's snap count, there could be enough volume for multiple Chicago players to have solid fantasy campaigns.
Howard is expecting to adjust well to new head coach Matt Nagy's new offensive system, Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Howard was frustrated last year because opposing defenses were often calling out the plays the Bears would run before the snap, which likely had a role in many of his disappointing fantasy performances. Not only should Nagy's offensive system make more creative use of Howard, but the other young weapons on the team have the potential for Chicago to be a much more dangerous offense in 2018. But until the passing attack gives defenses reason for concern, Howard will likely continue to be a high-variance lineup option.
Howard rushed 10 times for 37 yards while adding four receptions for an additional 26 yards in Saturday's 20-10 loss to the Lions. Howard had an outstanding matchup on paper, but the Bears fell behind in this one early, and the game script completely went away from him being utilized heavily in the rushing attack. He also had lost opportunities for a better performance when a pair of long gains were called back by penalties, keeping him from ending the evening with almost 100 yards of offense. He's been held to 38 or fewer rushing yards in three of his last four games, and he's failed to reach four yards per carry in five of his last games. Overall, despite his tremendous upside, he's had plenty of weeks in which he's hurt fantasy owners with poor performances.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/10||@Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|4||09/30||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||29||19.13|
|7||10/21||New England Patriots||17||17.47|
|8||10/28||New York Jets||24||18.50|
|13||12/02||@New York Giants||21||17.88|
|14||12/09||Los Angeles Rams||27||19.00|
|15||12/16||Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|16||12/23||@San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||264||1218||8||26||212||0||188|