After finishing second to fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliott in the 2016 NFL rushing race, Howard finished sixth last year in an impressive sophomore campaign. He had some monster games, including a 23-140-2 rushing performance against the Steelers in Week Three and a 23-147-2 rushing day against the Bengals in Week 14. Howard has no competition for early-down and goalline work, and he’s averaged 17.0 carries a game over his first two seasons. He’s averaged 4.6 yards per carry since entering the league.
While Howard has been a stud as a runner, he’s a poor pass catcher -- even worse than his 52 career receptions might suggest. Howard’s smash-mouth style seemed to fit the old-school style of John Fox, but it might not play as well with the Bears’ new head coach, Matt Nagy, an Andy Reid disciple. Reid’s primary running backs have traditionally been dual run-catch threats. It’s possible that Nagy’s offense could boost Howard’s receiving numbers, but it’s also possible that Howard could lose some snaps to small, nimble Tarik Cohen, a dangerous pass-catching back.
Howard’s ability as a runner is undeniable, but a coaching change in Chicago makes Howard’s fantasy value somewhat hard to nail down. As good as he’s been in his first two seasons, it would be surprising if he didn’t play a prominent role, but his limitations as a pass catcher could conceivably take a bite out of his snap count. Howard is far more valuable in standard-scoring leagues than he is in PPR formats.