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  • Writer's pictureNate (@WeKnowFantasy)

Is O.J. Howard worth his ADP?

One of the players who has received some of the most hype over the off-season across the fantasy football community has to be Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end O.J. Howard. Many people expect him to be in the mix as one of the best tight ends in the league. Some even have him over one of the big three of George Kittle, Travis Kelce and Zack Ertz.

The question is always asked, should you draft tight ends early or late? The answer to that seems to always direct the person to Kelce, Kittle or Ertz. But what about after that? What about the next tier of guys. Are players like Howard worth their ADP? Let’s run a few numbers and see where we expect Howard to finish in the 2019 season.

Last season, Howard appeared in ten games for the Bucs’ where he hauled in 34 receptions for 565 yards and five touchdowns. These numbers are all up (except for touchdowns) from his rookie campaign in 2017 where he played in fourteen games. So there’s improvement from year one to year two.

Running a 16 game projection based on the averages, we put Howard’s 2018 season at 54 receptions, 904 yards and eight touchdowns. Very good numbers for a tight end of course.

Now as he’s preparing to enter his third year in the league, one could expect him to make another stride forward. However, things aren’t as they were down in Tampa a year ago.

The Bucs’ are entering the 2019 season with a new head coach, Bruce Arians. Last season under Dirk Koetter, the Buccaneers ranked fourth in the league in passing attempts, sixth in completions, first in passing yards and third is passing touchdowns. Arians’ last season with the Cardinals in 2017, they ranked fifth in attempts, 19th in completions, 15th in passing yards and 20th in passing touchdowns. The Cardinals were also third in attempts, seventh in completions, 9th in yards and 11th in touchdowns under Arians in 2016.

What does this suggest? It suggests that the Bucs’ will continue to be a high flying, throw first offense that we’ve seen in recent years even with Arians at the helm, especially with the poor running game the team possess.

So what does that mean for O.J. Howard? It means that his stock is still up and he is set to put up some quality numbers this year.

Since 2001 when he served as the Offensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns through 2018 with the Arizona Cardinals, Arians has had one pro bowl caliber tight end, Heath Miller in Pittsburgh. With Arians as the offensive coordinator for five years, Miller had over 500 yards in each of the seasons. This suggests that Arians is capable of getting his tight ends involved, and he now has one of the more talented ones in the league with Howard.

As we break down Howard’s numbers from a year ago, we’ll look at what he did with both Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.

Under Ryan Fitzpatrick, who began the season as the Bucs’ starter due to Jameis Winston serving a suspension and later starting due to Winston’s poor play, Howard averaged 4.4 targets per game, 3.2 receptions, 58 yards and 0.6 touchdowns.

With Winston under center, Howard averaged 5.2 targets per game, 3.6 receptions, 55 yards and 0.4 touchdowns. Howard played a bit better with Winston than he did with Fitzpatrick, which is understandable.

If we take each of his averages under both quarterbacks from 2018 and average them out for a 16-game projection we get 70 targets, 51 receptions, 928 yards and 10 touchdowns with Fitzpatrick and 83.2 targets, 57.6 receptions, 880 yards and six touchdowns with Winston.

Comparing Winston to Fitzpatrick’s numbers to help us gauge a more accurate stat line for the 2018 season, we find out that Howard averaged 15% more targets, 11% more receptions, 5% less yards and 50% less touchdowns from Fitzpatrick to Winston.

Using these percentages along with his projected 16 game stat line we produced earlier in this article, we come to a projected line for 2019 at 74 targets, 53 receptions, 894 yards and 7 touchdowns.

These numbers are good enough for 131.4 in standard scoring points, 157.9 half point PPR points and 184.4 full point PPR points. This would have put him at TE5 in standard scoring and TE6 in both half point and full point PPR formats in 2018. We can assume that Eric Ebron and Jared Cook won’t replicate their 2018 seasons, so Howard slides into a confident TE4 for the 2019 season, no news there.

Howard is currently going off the board in ESPN leagues at 58th (TE4) and on Yahoo at 51st (TE4). To put this into perspective, names such as Jarvis Landry, Tyler Lockett, Tarik Cohen and Kenyan Drake are being taken in the range. These players each put up around the 200 PPR point mark a season ago and are currently being drafted was the 20th and up in their respective positions. Howard is worth his current ADP.

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