Things have been hectic last week and I didn’t have time to write about bloody Sunday. Even though there weren’t as many injuries this weekend, the list of hurt starters is still longer than the line to the woman’s restroom. Fantasy teams are just scraping by and there is only one place to look when your lineup is in the dumps. So with out further adieu lets dig into the waivers for this week.
Waiver Pick of the Week: Jordan Howard
With so many injuries, it is no surprise that the pick of the week is a backup. Nearly every fantasy team that I have looked at has at least one hurt running back. Last week Jerick McKinnon was a top waiver target but only one owner was lucky enough to snag him. If you missed on him then this could be your chance to solve your running back woes.
Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears (25% Yahoo 1.4% NFL.com)
Howard may be a rookie in a bad offense, but out of all the players recently propelled into starting roles he has the best rest of season outlook. Howard started the season as the 4th man on the Bear’s depth chart but has quickly moved up the ranks. Team mate Ka’Deem Carey is sidelined with a hamstring injury and Sunday night Jeremy Langford was carted off the field with a severe high ankle sprain. Langford looks to miss between 4 to 6 weeks of football and Howard has the chance to lock down the starting job before he returns.
Opportunity not talent is what makes fantasy points. Luckily, Howard has a little bit of both. He stands 6’0” 220lbs and is a decisive runner. He does a good job of pass protection and best of all he isn’t a slouch catching the ball. While he isn’t the fastest runner in the open field, his quickness and explosiveness both pass the eye test. Its not often that your starting running back goes down and your team begins to perform better, but this weekend that is exactly what happened for the Bears. After Langford left in the second quarter Howard went on to rush 9 times for 45 yards and caught 4 passes to add on another 47 through the air. Normally head coach John Fox doesn’t like giving rookies work, but Howard’s performance and the situation has made it impossible to keep him off the field.
Looking at the numbers
Normally this is where I talk up a players performance and I will be doing that, but in this situation it is actually less about good Howard has looked and more about how poorly Langford has. Last year Langford was inefficient with his touches and his fantasy value was kept aloft by workload. His 3.6 YPC was the 4th worst out of the 44 running backs who carried the ball at least 100 times. He only had 7 Missed tackles. The least of any back who had over 88 touches. His horrible 1.8 Yards after contact was one of the worst in the league. Even in the passing game his 26.67 drop percentages left nothing to be desired. Starting off 2016, Langford has not looked any better. Before his injury he was averaging only 3.7 YPC. Its no wonder why there has been speculation of him losing the starting role.
Howard has a very limited sample of NFL play but so far he has averaged 5.6 YPC and has looked good while doing it. He was far more decisive than Langford and took what his line gave him. Besides tearing up Dallas, he ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries and caught two passes for 33 yards in Chicago’s 4th preseason game. Hamper your excitement about that one, because it was against Cleveland backups, but with such a small sample size we don’t have a lot to look at. We can’t expect Howard to beat real NFL teams that badly but even at half of that performance he would be out performing Langford.
In college Howard averaged 6.2 yards per carry with 24 total touchdowns in his last 21 games. The Bear’s running back coach Stan Drayton remembers Jordan Howard’s season at Indiana. He stated ‘‘You saw people not wanting to tackle him,’’ and went on to say ‘‘We wanted to bring some power to the offense, a guy who can play past contact, get in a four-minute situation and wear a defense down,’’ ‘‘We feel, in time, that this kid will be able to do that for us.’’ Well Drayton, It looks like that time is sooner than later.
In the 4 to 6 weeks that Langford is injured, Howard will be a great fill in for many peoples decimated running back roster, but even after he returns it is likely that Howard will have become the clear starter. There was already mention of Howard’s increased usage before Langford got hurt and now if Howard continues to like he has the coaches will be hard pressed to take him off the field. His skill set matches more with the Bear’s offense, not only has he shown that he is a better runner but when they fall behind he is the teams best catching back. Howard isn’t exactly Matt Forte but the Bears have shown that they can make a player with his skill set very fantasy relevant.
Get him while you can!
Next week Howard and the Bears face a Lions Defense that is allowing a league-high 5.1 yards per carry. The Bears aren’t an offensive juggernaut, but with the field of running backs so slim if you don’t jump on him now then you can be sure someone else will.