by Ray Kuhn
At this point we know that running backs are being devalued around the league. Teams will use multiple backs to get through the season, and they don’t see them worthy of much in the way of a financial investment.
With that being said the Miami Dolphins jumped on signing Jordan Howard within the first few days of free agency, and we have to weigh that more heavily than the terms of his contract (2 years and $10 million). Despite the fact that he is just 25 years old, there is just no need to invest in running backs on the open market.
In early season drafts, 50 to be exact, fantasy owners haven’t bought into Howard and are equating his value with his contract. At this point 45 running backs are being drafted ahead of him and his 142 ADP. Currently, that is simply too many.
The initial indication is that Howard will be opening up the season as Miami’s starting running back, and there is no reason why that shouldn’t be the case, and he could keep the job all season. With four seasons under his belt we have a good idea as to what we can expect. The Dolphins did acquire Matt Breida, but it’s likely he will be used in a complementary role.
You could make the argument that Howard peaked in his rookie season with 1,313 rushing yards (and 6 TD), but he did follow that up with 1,122 yards and 9 TD the following year. He took another step backwards in his third season with just 935 rushing yards, but 9 TD once again, before dealing with a shoulder injury in 2019.
Howard started 2019 with the Eagles, but he only made it through nine games before injuring his shoulder. In those nine games he carried the ball 119 times for 525 yards (4.4 yards per carry) while scoring 6 TD. Had he played a full season it is possible he would have reached the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his career, but all in all he proved he can be a productive running back.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, we are probably at the high end of Howard’s expectations and we won’t see him repeating his rookie campaign. It is very possible that he reaches the 1,000 yard mark for the third time in his career, and his propensity for finding the end zone helps to augment his value.
Then we get to Howard’s limitations… When it comes to the receiving game he just isn’t very good and has yet to be a factor in any of his four NFL seasons. The best we saw was 298 receiving yards and 29 receptions in his rookie year, and I wouldn’t expect him to even reach that plateau going forward. It is just not a skill set he holds.
At this point we know what we can expect from Howard, and while he is a one-dimensional option he has a track record of finding the end zone and being a productive ball carrier. With an improved offensive line in Miami he should find room to run, and that warrants more value than as a back-end RB4.
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings: