Skip to main content

Can O.J. Howard Become an Elite TE? (2019 Fantasy Football)

Jul 23, 2019

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

Your computer is fully charged, your documents and rankings are carefully laid out, and your lucky Spider-Man underpants are still warm from the dryer. You, my friend, are ready for your fantasy football draft. But like a TV junkie aimlessly perusing Netflix’s endless menu of options, it helps to enter the fray with a few specific targets in mind. Given the sheer volume of players to choose from, a focused game plan will help you avoid nerve-wracking crunch time decisions and allow you to maximize value from round-to-round. This is especially true for fantasy’s most volatile position, tight end.

Check out all of our fantasy football player profiles >>

I’ve made my thoughts on the top three guys-Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and George Kittlequite clear. Under the right circumstances, they provide the best positional advantage from week-to-week of any player group. But tight end fantasy production comes in all shapes and sizes. As Jared Smola of Draft Sharks pointed out recently, 40.2 percent of top 12 TE weeks last season came from guys drafted outside the first 16 rounds. There’s a ton of variance here.

So if you’re waiting out the top three, might I humbly suggest O.J. Howard? The former first-round pick was last year’s TE6 from Weeks 1-11 before injuries ended his season. Interestingly, he managed to threaten the top five despite an inexplicable lack of volume.

Howard ranked 17th among tight ends in snaps per game (43.6) last season. Former head coach Dirk Koetter weirdly refused to fully integrate him into the offense during his bumpy tenure. In what world does it makes sense for one of your most physically gifted pass-catchers to muster a measly 11 percent target share? Short answer, none. Even with the training wheels holding him back, Howard managed a top-10 TE finish in seven of his 10 games, a rate just behind Kelce and Ertz.

I know what you’re thinking. New head coach Bruce Arians has never had a tight end unit surpass a 20 percent target share in 12 seasons. That’s true-but Arians has also never had a tight end of Howard’s capabilities. The guy has scored 11 touchdowns in 24 career games and eclipsed 50 receiving yards in 13 of those outings. The consistency is there when he’s healthy, and despite a crowded offensive hierarchy, there are 179 targets up for grabs. He’s due for more work and it’ll come in what should be an elite environment.

Tampa Bay’s offense ranked 12th in points per game and third in yards per game last season. Arians’ arrival should only bolster those numbers. All five of his seasons with the Arizona Cardinals resulted in a top-10 scoring offense. As our own Mike Tagliere pointed out recently, the best bets for high-end fantasy production come from such teams.

Howard is reasonably priced and physically gifted. When healthy, he’s put together a track record of consistent TE1 production, and he finds himself in what should be one of the NFL’s most effective attacks. What’s not to like?

Mock draft in minutes with our free fantasy football Draft Simulator >>

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | SoundCloud | TuneIn | RSS

Brandon Katz is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Brandon, check out his archive and follow him @great_katzby.

What's your take? Leave a comment

1Christian McCaffrey (CAR)RB
2Saquon Barkley (NYG)RB
3Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)RB
4Michael Thomas (NO)WR
5Dalvin Cook (MIN)RB
6Derrick Henry (TEN)RB
7Alvin Kamara (NO)RB
8Tyreek Hill (KC)WR
9DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)WR
10Aaron Jones (GB)RB
 View All Rankings 
11Joe Mixon (CIN)RB
12Nick Chubb (CLE)RB
13Davante Adams (GB)WR
14Julio Jones (ATL)WR
15Chris Godwin (TB)WR
16Mike Evans (TB)WR
17George Kittle (SF)TE
18Travis Kelce (KC)TE
19Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
20Lamar Jackson (BAL)QB
21Josh Jacobs (OAK)RB
22Kenny Golladay (DET)WR
23Amari Cooper (DAL)WR
24D.J. Moore (CAR)WR
25Todd Gurley (LAR)RB
26Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)WR
27Chris Carson (SEA)RB
28Allen Robinson (CHI)WR
29Miles Sanders (PHI)RB
30Austin Ekeler (LAC)RB
1Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)LF,CF
2Mike Trout (LAA)CF
3Christian Yelich (MIL)LF,RF
4Cody Bellinger (LAD)1B,CF
5Mookie Betts (LAD)CF,RF
6Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
7Trevor Story (COL)SS
8Gerrit Cole (NYY)SP
9Trea Turner (WSH)SS
10Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
 View All Rankings 
11Jacob deGrom (NYM)SP
12Juan Soto (WSH)LF
13Justin Verlander (HOU)SP
14Alex Bregman (HOU)3B,SS
15Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B
16Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
17Jose Ramirez (CLE)3B
18J.D. Martinez (BOS)LF,RF
19Walker Buehler (LAD)SP
20Anthony Rendon (LAA)3B
21Rafael Devers (BOS)3B
22Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD)SS
23Bryce Harper (PHI)RF
24Aaron Judge (NYY)RF
25Xander Bogaerts (BOS)SS
26Stephen Strasburg (WSH)SP
27Starling Marte (ARI)CF
28Jack Flaherty (STL)SP
29Yordan Alvarez (HOU)LF,DH
30Javier Baez (CHC)SS
1Anthony Davis (LAL)PF,C
2James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
3Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
4Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
5Kevin Durant (BKN)SF,PF
6LeBron James (LAL)SF,PF
7Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
8Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
9Damian Lillard (POR)PG
10Russell Westbrook (HOU)PG
 View All Rankings 
11Victor Oladipo (IND)PG,SG
12Paul George (LAC)SF,PF
13Joel Embiid (PHI)PF,C
14Kawhi Leonard (LAC)SG,SF
15Chris Paul (OKC)PG
16Jimmy Butler (MIA)SG,SF
17Kemba Walker (BOS)PG
18Ben Simmons (PHI)PG,SF
19Kyrie Irving (BKN)PG,SG
20Jrue Holiday (NOR)PG,SG
21Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
22Andre Drummond (CLE)PF,C
23John Wall (WAS)PG
24Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
25Donovan Mitchell (UTH)PG,SG
26Khris Middleton (MIL)SG,SF
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C
29Draymond Green (GSW)PF,C
30LaMarcus Aldridge (SAS)PF,C
Follow the Pros!

Follow us on Twitter @FantasyPros for exclusive advice and contests