Jordan Howard struggled with drops last year, but will a vow to fix that problem make him into a stud fantasy running back?
Jordan Howard has made a good mark over two NFL seasons, with third-most rushing yards in the league over that span (2,435, 4.6 yards per carry). But he has seriously lacked as a threat in the passing game, with a total of 52 receptions, due in part to an offense that failed to look anything like a modern system.
That will not be an issue this year, with former Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Matt Nagy coming in as Chicago’s head coach and former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich taking over as offensive coordinator. Howard knows he’ll have an opportunity to be more of a dual threat, and he has vowed to fix his past problems as a pass catcher.
“It started being a problem in high school, just not having my hands in the right position,“I didn’t work on it that much in college because we didn’t really throw to the backs that much. But I’m going to fix it.”
Over his first two seasons as a pro, Howard’s 63.4 percent catch rate is the worst among running backs with at least 50 targets over that span. Pro Football Focus credited him with 14 drops, on 82 total targets, over the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Tarik Cohen had his snap count limited by an unimaginative coaching staff as a rookie last year. But he had 53 receptions on 71 targets (74.6 percent catch rate) and put up 723 total yards, so his role is sure to expand under a new coaching staff. Deploying Howard and Cohen together in the same backfield is presumably on the radar.
It’s nice to see a player recognize his primary weakness, and be willing to work to fix it. But in terms of significant impact on Howard’s fantasy outlook for this year, catching a better percentage of his pass targets isn’t in line to move the needle all that much.