Head coach Matt Nagy stated that Howard's role will be "game specific," Adan 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 to improve his receiving skills. Regardless of the potential that he improves as a pass catcher, it's unlikely that he'll turn out to be a better receiving option than Tarik Cohen, and Cohen will likely be the main receiving back. This certainly doesn't come across as great news for those looking at Howard as an elite fantasy option, but the fact that he's expected to be locked into early down work and goal-line work should ensure that he remains among the top running backs worthy of an early round draft pick.
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 RB 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 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 an impressive 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 nine times for nine yards while adding one reception for an additional five yards in a Week 17 loss to the Vikings, finishing the season with 1122 rushing yards and nine touchdowns along with 23 receptions for an additional 125 yards in 16 games.
After having an amazing rookie season in 2016 when he ran for 5.2 yards per carry and accounted for over 1600 total yards, he saw his yardage dropped by almost 400 yards while being held to fewer than 4.1 yards per attempt in 2017. It certainly didn't help that opposing defenses gave little respect to the anemic Bears passing attack, and Howard routinely saw stacked boxes that lowered his potential for consistent big games. Over the season, he was very game-script dependent, as he rushed for 579 yards and five touchdowns in four games that the Bears either won or kept close throughout, while he was held to fewer than 10 rushing yards on three different occasions in blowout losses. If the team's passing attack begins to improve in 2018, he'll likely show a bit more consistency, but regardless, he'll clearly remain as a solid weekly fantasy starter as he enters the third-year of his four-year rookie contract.
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