After the first few days of free agency, a bunch of players have a new place to call home. However, only some of those players will significantly impact your fantasy football leagues. Stefon Diggs got traded to Buffalo, Austin Hooper signed a massive deal in Cleveland, and running backs Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have found themselves in favorable locations. And who can forget the ongoing carousel of quarterbacks that have new NFL franchises? One player, however, that could have an impact on his new team is running back Jordan Howard. The 25-year-old signed a two-year deal worth $10 million to play for the Miami Dolphins.
After the dreadful season the Dolphins had running the football, he will be an immediate upgrade to the stable of running backs currently on the roster. But what does this signing mean for the team long-term, and most importantly, what type of implications could this have on your fantasy football team? Let’s take a look at the new Dolphins running back.
Miami’s rebuilt offensive line
The first thing we must look at before even diving into the impact Howard could have in Miami is taking a look at the Dolphins’ reshaped offensive line. Miami was the worst team in football last season, averaging a dismal 72.2 yards per game. A lot of that struggle started with an ever-changing group of an inexperienced offensive line.
So, what was one of the first things the Dolphins did to kick off free agency?
First, they chose not to pick up Daniel Kilgore’s option, making him an immediate free agent and freeing up cap space. Next, they decided to make several impact signings to fix one of the worst offensive lines in football.
As many have suggested, the Dolphins were extremely interested in New England Patriots’ guard, Joe Thuney. Unfortunately, right before the 12:00 PM deadline, Thuney was given the franchise tag from the Patriots, forcing Miami to reshuffle their cards.
The Dolphins’ first unofficial signing in free agency was former Washington Redskins’ guard Ereck Flowers. The 25-year-old Miami native had his best season in the league last year after moving inside. Yes, his first three seasons were dreadful at tackle, but he showed real promise at guard last season and should continue to ascend in a familiar location.
Next, Chris Grier and company knew they had to find a suitable replacement for Kilgore. Perhaps, they knew all along who they were going to target and needed to agree on fair compensation. But after a few days passed, the Dolphins decided to a one-year deal worth $4 million to sign Ted Karras, the former Patriots center. Best of all, Karras turned down a two-year deal with the Patriots to play in Miami and prove his worth this coming season.
In the end, both signings are upgrades over what the Dolphins started on the interior offensive line in 2019. They should go a long way in not only protecting the future quarterback but opening up sizeable holes for Howard.
Run Howard Run
If we’re sincere, it feels like Howard has been in the NFL for the last twenty years. But the truth is, the 25-year-old running back is heading into only his sixth NFL season. And over his first five years, Howard has been as productive as some of the best backs in football.
NFL rushing yardage leaders since 2016:
1. Ezekiel Elliott – 5,405
2. Todd Gurley – 4,298
3. Jordan Howard – 3,895#Dolphins
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) March 17, 2020
As a rookie in Chicago, Howard rushed for 1,313 yards on 252 carries. He scored six touchdowns and added another 298 yards and a score in the passing game. He finished the season as a top-10 running back and one of the best players in all of fantasy football.
The following season, Howard followed his impressive rookie campaign up with another 1,000-yard year. This time, carrying the ball 276 times for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns. He continued to be a decisive runner between the tackles and an asset in the passing game. Howard, unlike some of Miami’s most recent RBs, takes what the defense gives him. He also has the size 6’0, 225-pounds to carry the workload if called on.
There’s only been one year in Howard’s five seasons in the league where he averaged under four yards per carry, and that was in 2018 in Chicago. Even last year in Philadelphia, Howard carried the ball 119 times for 525 yards (4.4 YPC) and six touchdowns.
Here’s a look at Howard’s three-touchdown performance vs. the Green Bay Packers in 2019.
— josh houtz (@houtz) March 18, 2020
Say what you will about the player, but he’s been one of the most productive backs in football over the last few seasons. For a team like the Dolphins who struggled immensely in 2019, he becomes an immediate upgrade for both the team and fantasy football users everywhere!
Jordan Howard is a viable veteran option that has proven it throughout his career. He can carry the workload when called on. Fortunately for him and the Dolphins, it appears the team will target a running back early in the 2020 draft. Whether they prefer Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins, or one of the other top backs in this class, Howard will have every chance to be the guy in Chan Gailey’s offense.
A trio of Jordan Howard, a rookie, and Patrick Laird should significantly improve Miami’s 32nd-ranked rushing attack. Although Howard could be a diamond-in-the-rough fantasy player in 2019, his long-term value in dynasty formats could suffer. At the end of the day, he’s ultimately keeping the seat warm for whatever running back the Dolphins choose to draft.
It will be interesting to see if Howard can maintain the same type of success he’s had over his career and prove to be an early-down back in Miami. Miles Sanders struggled to steal reps, as too could Miami’s rookie in 2019, and although the long-term future for Howard seems a bit blurry, he should have no problem making an impact early and often in South Florida.
Run Howard Run.