Is it really that time of year already? Nationwide Fantasy Football drafts will take place over the course of the next week, so you might be on the hunt for any last minute news hoping it will push you over the edge. Hopefully, this article can offer you some valuable advice that will help you avoid yet another draft day blunder. I'll be focusing on why I believe the 2016 sensation Jordan Howard will struggle in the upcoming season much like his 2015 rookie counterpart Todd Gurley. Let's begin with some statistical evidence.

Seasons to remember

Once Gurley got going in 2015, there was no stopping him.

Keep in mind he was out the first few games with an injury but dominated the St. Louis spotlight once he returned: 13 Games: 229 ATT, 1,106 YDS (4.8 AVG), 10 TD

Compare that with Howard's 2016 campaign, in which he played two more games than Gurley: 15 Games: 252 ATT, 1,313 YDS (5.2 AVG), 6 TD

Factor in about thirty more attempts from the two games Gurley missed out on, and his yardage comes up just short (1,250) compared to Howard's numbers; something that can be evened out by the number of touchdowns each got. They put up similar numbers, what's the big deal?

Both players rank within the top 25 for rushing yards in their rookie seasons, a feat that was nobody saw coming out of Howard as a 5th round draft selection.However, one unfortunate thing to keep in mind with (seemingly) breakout seasons like these is a sophomore slump.

Gurley knows this trend better than anyone of recent years, compiling stats in the 2016 season that look like this: 16 Games: 278 ATT, 885 YDS (3.2 AVG), 6 TD

Yikes. We all know Gurley has the talent to far surpass if not double these numbers in the coming year, but if you're a bit put off after having him last year, it's understandable that you'd want to stay away.

Of course, there are some other major components that worked against Gurley which I'll get to in a minute. First, let's take one last look at some numbers, Howard's projected stats for the upcoming year. I'll have a few more numbers to throw your way shortly: 16 Games: 273 ATT, 1246 YDS (4.6 AVG), 8 TD

Most projection sites are fairly lukewarm about Howard.

Even so, a 1250 YD rusher is going to be highly coveted in today's run-by-committee NFL. He'll likely be taken in an early round (and will likely be worth it) even if he only matches his contributions last year. So what else am I weary about?

Harsh supporting cast

Aside from the mind games that can play a part of a sophomores woes, Gurley had a lot to complain about. The Rams had beat up offensive line, a new rookie QB (Foles was bad, but Goff was just lost out there), and a fired coach by the end of the season; all worthy excuses to some, but not at all what you want to surround a potential workhorse RB with. When I look at Howard's situation I come away with similar findings: The same established coach that is coming off of a lackluster season (fans are fed up), the supposedly 'improved' offensive line, and of course the new rookie under center.

I find that last similarity to be extremely significant, even more so with the recent news that top receiver Cameron Meredith will miss the entire season with an injury. Number two pick Mitch Tribusky has shown flashes in his preseason play, but it's going to be a whole different ball game one he (or Mike Glennon) go up against first string defenders. If the passing game struggles (which isn't a bold assumption) teams can focus their efforts on Howard, negating any 'improvement' the offensive line received.

Here is a video that depicts what I mean when it happened to Gurley in 2016:

Other options

Some names I like better than Howard with similar average draft position:

  • Devanta Freeman
  • Melvin Gordon
  • Leonard Fournette
  • Todd Gurley (I'm a believer)