With the recent announcement of the Philadelphia Eagles trading for Jordan Howard, from the Chicago Bears, Twitter is aflutter with reactions. Let’s discuss how we can use this to our fantasy advantage.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) March 29, 2019
[Writer's Note: I want to tell everyone how I changed this article to avoid some inevitable lameness. Originally, this article was written comparing the Jordan Howard trade, and it's fantasy trade potential, to a con/heist movie including comparisons to The Sting, Trading Places, Heat, and even Fast & Furious 6 (yeah, that one was for you Millenials--who loves ya?!). It's one of those "great ideas" that comes like a freight train at 1 am in the morning. Instead, I'm gonna spare you that nonsense and just hit ya with straight fantasy talk. You're welcome.]
To know where we currently are, you gotta know where we recently came from to get here. Despite Jordan Howard running for over 3,300 yards, the past three years for the Chicago Bears, the Bears signed Mike Davis (formerly of the Seattle Seahawks) to a free agent deal, in mid-March. This signing significantly clouded the waters for Jordan Howard; at best, the Bears would find a way to trade him and at worst Howard would be in an RB-by-committee role, next season. Jordan Howard’s fantasy value took a decent hit, despite the strong rumors of a possible trade to the Eagles. Note: Any RB that is projected to be in an RBBC role, you can get for a real bargain, as their fantasy value diminishes in that role.
Fast forward to March 28th, the Eagles trade for Jordan Howard and the Twitter reactions were swift (scroll down):
Bears get not all that much for a guy who has rushed for more than 3,300 yards in three seasons https://t.co/HYVEUwdvOJ
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 29, 2019
New Eagles RB Jordan Howard has been one of the leaders in yards after contact over the past three seasons. https://t.co/d8Jb35LPJr
— PFF (@PFF) March 29, 2019
Most rushing yards in NFL since 2016:
Ezekiel Elliott: 4,048
Todd Gurley: 3,441
Jordan Howard: 3,370
— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) March 29, 2019
So by all accounts, we’re looking at a crazy bargain for the Eagles. A sixth-round pick for a guy who nearly outrushed Todd Gurley, the last three years–whoa! It’s true, over the totality of three years, Howard was a rockstar, and he rewarded anyone who drafted with some solid stats. Because of his trade to the Eagles, Jordan Howard’s value is on the rise. Buying into Howard, now, can get you a player whose positive hype will continue to push his value up. He looks to be a solid buy, at this time.
That being said, you should look to flip Howard, for a profit, before the season begins (or sooner, possibly before the draft), as holding onto him could cost you in the long run. To show why this is, let’s dig in a bit and see why the Bears might’ve traded Jordan Howard for what looks to be peanuts.
Downward Trends For Howard
In 2016, after being a 5th round pick for the Bears, Howard was a fantasy stud. He rushed for 1313 yards and 6 TDs, with 298 receiving yards on 29 receptions and 1 receiving TD. He was 2nd in the NFL in rushing yards and 3rd in rushing yards/game at 87.5.
In 2017 Jordan Howard, rushed for 1122 yards and 9 TDs, with 125 receiving yards on 23 receptions. He was 6th in the NFL in rushing yards and 9th in rushing yards/game at 70.1.
In 2018 Jordan Howard, rushed for 935 yards and 9 TDs, with 145 receiving yards on 20 receptions. He was 14th in rushing yards and 23rd in rushing yards/game with 58.4.
It appears from those stats that Jordan Howard is starting to slow down a bit, with his stats decreasing from season-to-season.
Let’s dig further:
2016 253 attempts-1313 yards rushing-5.2yds/carry
2017 276 attempts-1122 yards rushing-4.1yds/carry
2018 250 attempts-935 yards rushing-3.7yds/carry
You can see why the Bears could be concerned. They’ve used Jordan Howard as a bell cow RB, giving him over 250 carries a season, and he’s progressively lost yards per carries (YPC), over each year.
That brings me to this next tweet, which brings up a pretty good point:
The WORST argument to why a RB is “good” is YPC
— Mitchell Renz (@MitchellRenz365) March 29, 2019
You can look at YPC for RBs, and yes, it’s not always fair, ex: David Johnson had 258 carries for 3.6yds/carry, last year with the Cardinals. DJ’s a great RB, on a bad team, with what ended up being the worst offensive line in football, for 2018. Does that make David Johnson a lousy player? People still believe in David Johnson’s potential, and he’s going in the 2nd round, in most redraft leagues, along with making multiple “top ten” lists, for RBs.
On the other side, Philip Lindsey and Joe Mixon both ran behind some terrible offensive lines, for some awful teams (just like Howard and DJ) and both players had way better YPC averages (5.4 and 4.9) than Jordan Howard who ran behind a top 10 offensive line, for a team that went 12-4.
If you are looking at defenses looking to key on Jordan Howard, to maybe explain his bad YPC average, well… Howard Jordan saw 8+defenders in the box 14% of the time, on his carries. Lindsey also was at 14%, while Mixon saw 8+defenders on 16% of his carries. *
YAC (Yards After Contact) is a pretty good way to gauge RBs, and people point to that to show how good/bad an RB is. Howard Jordan had pretty good YAC stats in 2018 (ranked 15th for RBs), but he only broke nine tackles, which put him at 42nd for RBs, in broken tackles.**
One of my personal favorite stats to look at is “smash games.” Smash games are games that a player should dominate in, as they SHOULD have a huge advantage over a bad defensive team. In 2018, most running backs’ favorite team to smash in 2018 was the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals gave up a league-worst 2479 yards rushing which equals 154.9 yards/game. As a fantasy owner, you wanted your RBs to play the Cardinals. Here’s how Jordan Howard and some other RBs did, vs. the Cardinals:
Adrian Peterson: 26 car 96 yds 1 TD, 70 yds rec
Philip Lindsay: 14 car 90 yds 1 TD, 6 yds rec
Jalen Richard: 11 car 61 yds, 32 yds rec
Jordan Howard: 24 car 61 yds 1 TD, 20 yds rec
Mike Davis: 21 car 101 yds 2 TD, 23 yds rec
CJ Anderson: 20 car 167 yds 1 TD, -5 yds rec
If you dig in, I’m sure you’d find RBs with bad YPC vs. the Cardinals (Todd Gurley, for example, had 19 car for 42yds and had a 2.2 YPC average, in Week 3…but, he scored 3 TDs, so he still “smashed”). What you are looking at though is a bunch of different RBs, all at various skill levels, who mostly had pretty good games vs. the Arizona Cardinals. They smashed in the games they were supposed to smash or had bigger games than their standard starts. But if you look at Jordan Howard, he had a pretty pedestrian outing versus what turned out to be the worst rushing defense in the NFL, and that wasn’t the only game he failed to smash on, during 2018.
The goal of fantasy football is getting good value, no matter if that’s via your league draft(s) or through trades. That’s how you win leagues, by getting a team that gives you more positive value than anyone else in your league.
Right now, Howard is a nice player to have, as a hold, because a player that gets 900 yards with 9 TDs is a solid RB2 option. The best play for Howard owners (or potential owners) though, is to sell because his value is currently increasing, as fantasy owners like to see players in new situations/on new teams because it ups the possibility of improving their potential output.
Howard, one of the top RBs for cumulative rushing stats, over the past three years, is going to a team, in the Eagles, that is a year removed from winning the Super Bowl, that also had a top 5 offensive line in 2018. That hype will be pushing his value up for a while, as it will have owners drooling at the possible return to RB1 status for Jordan Howard.
Keep in mind, Jordan Howard plays at a position where the average shelf-life is three years & his stats show a downward trend that could continue, no matter what team he’s on though. In addition, last year, the Eagles rushed the ball just over 23 times a game (20th in the NFL–the Bears tied for 6th in rushing attempts).
Howard may be going to a team that won the Super Bowl, a year ago, but the Bears are a team that looks to be much closer to going to upcoming Super Bowls. Add to that, Jordan Howard’s contract is very team friendly at just over $2M, this year. Why would a team, like the Bears, who went 12-4 last year, not want a stud RB at dirt cheap prices? The Bears are paying, a relatively unproven Mike Davis, the same money ($2M) because they think they have a better chance with him than Jordan Howard. That doesn’t add up.
Let the hype bubble build for Howard, then find another owner to past the risk onto, while you trade-up for a better player. If the bubble bursts (the Eagles draft a rookie RB, for instance) or you find an owner that is waffling on taking Howard from you, point them to the tweet below. It’s the first part of a three-part tweet thread (definitely worth checking out the thread), on stats showing why Jordan Howard will be a better runner for the Eagles, behind an all-pro center, than the Bears. It’s a pretty impressive, convincing bit of stat analysis, from a sharp guy (no pun intended).
Good luck! Remember, perception is value, use it to your advantage.
On Jordan Howard to PHI:
• When CHI was under center in '18 they went 76% run, #1 most (predictable) in NFL
►PHI was #27
• CHI ran behind C only 12% of the time past 3 yrs , #32 in NFL
►PHI was #9 (31%)
►PHI has the #1 rated run-blocking C each of the last 2 yrs per PFF
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 29, 2019
Follow me and hit me up on twitter @Flavorizethis. We can talk fantasy football: redraft, best ball, and dynasty leagues, as well as DFS fantasy football and DFS Golf. You can read more of my articles here: https://www.dynastyfootballdigest.com/author/sperkins/