Justin Howe

  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

20 Excellent

About Justin Howe

  • Rank
  • Birthday 10/14/1983

Profile Information

  • Gender

Previous Fields

  • Favorite NFL Team
    Pittsburgh Steelers

Recent Profile Visitors

968 profile views
  1. Good pull, but there are also quite a few outliers going in the other direction. Guys who were aging, practice-squad types, and wild statistical anomalies. For example, the fact that Jamaal Charles dipped from 6.40 per carry to "just" 5.29 after the injury doesn't discourage me. I'm no doc, of course. But I'm still most interested in when the injury (and ensuing surgery) occurred. A guy who tears it in Week 16, for example, needs to be treated as though he won't be in decent shape until October or so. Cook went down in Week 4; I'm willing to bet he's a full-go at some point before camp.
  2. Personally, I'm setting the Vikes up with a barely-noticeable dip in play volume (1055 down to 1049) and a run ratio (44%) that comes down from that wild 47% but remains squarely above league average. It gives me 411 attempts for team running backs. Over a 16-game season, I give 283 (and 59 targets) to Cook.
  3. You guys probably know the deal by now -- after a hiatus, we're bringing the Player Spotlight threads back to the Shark Pool. For those who are new around here, the Player Spotlights are one of the main features on the site during the preseason. They're in-depth looks at key players, including pros and cons, and our staff projections. For years, we also included the best commentary from the Shark Pool. A few years ago, activity in the Pool died down and commentary fell off, but we have confidence in a resurgence. So here's the deal. Discuss your thoughts about the player in question. We'll pick the best comments from the bunch and use them (and give you credit) in the published articles. ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************ Dalvin Cook is currently coming off the board outside of Round 1. In most drafts, he's available beyond the likes of Melvin Gordon, Kareem Hunt, Saquon Barkley, and Leonard Fournette. Are you OK with that? More interested in him than any of those names? The case could be made that Cook is firmly on their level. His rookie year was truncated, but he produced 0.39 PPR points per snap - in line with Hunt (0.44) and Fournette (0.44) and ahead of the others above. (Also more than LeVeon Bell or Ezekiel Elliott managed.) He's the unquestioned workhorse - he took 69.6% of snaps over the first 3 weeks - in an offense that looks poised to be successful. He catches passes, works on the goal line, and if his rookie year is any indicator, stays on the field in virtually every circumstance. What's not to like? Early chatter on his ACL recovery is good. It's not the death knell it was once perceived to be, and Cook was already back in team drills in early June. He won't play much in the preseason, but there's nothing to suggest that he'll be limited in any way come September. What say you?
  4. After a hiatus, we're bringing the Player Spotlight threads back to the Shark Pool. For those who are new around here, the Player Spotlights are a key feature of our preseason on the site. They're in-depth looks at key players, including pros and cons, and our staff projections. For years, we also included the best commentary from the Shark Pool. A few years ago, activity in the Pool died down and commentary waned. But, we have confidence in a resurgence. So here's the deal. Discuss your thoughts about the player in question. We'll pick the best comments from the bunch and use them (and give you credit) in the published articles. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Deshaun Watson, QB - Houston Texans Watson wasn't merely good or even great as a rookie. He actually put up the best rookie quarterback season in history, as well as one of the best overall quarterback seasons we've ever seen. Among his many startling marks, note that he posted: - More standard fantasy points per game (24.6) than any rookie ever - The NFL’s eighth-most adjusted net yards per attempt (7.19) among qualifiers (at least 150 attempts) - An exceptional touchdown rate (9.3%) that registered higher than the career-best marks of Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, or Ben Roethlisberger - 38.4 rushing yards per game, 23rd-most from a quarterback over the past 20 years Obviously, the first question to the Watson Game is to determine what carries over, and what regresses. His touchdown production seems destined to drop - last year 17 of his 19 touchdown passes came from the red zone, where his TD rate (48.1%) was more than double the league rate (21.7%). It's safe to assume we won't be seeing Will Fuller score 7 times on 15 catches again. So, where do we slot in Watson? Do we pay the premium (Round 4 or 5) that early drafts have demanded? Do we merely eyeball him and catch him if he slides into 6 or 7? Or do we go hands-off, considering the glut of QB1 types available rounds later? Let's hear it.
  5. It is important to note that Washington WILL likely be involved. Tomlin/Roethlisberger have no qualms whatsoever about incorporating a rookie with big skills into a sizeable WR3 role (Wallace, Sanders, JuJu), and Washington is a deadly downfield guy. Still, even if we give him ALL of Bryant's production after Week 8 (when JuJu torched the Lions and took over WR2 duties), there's plenty of room for Brown and Bell to eat WHILE JuJu makes DBs look silly.
  6. That... that is an insult. Obviously.
  7. I have the same take, fellas. I'm currently projecting 69-1067-7, but that feels like a floor.
  8. As Jason Wood laid out in his Jerick McKinnon Spotlight ... After a hiatus, we're bringing the Player Spotlight threads back to the Shark Pool. For those who are new around here, the Player Spotlights are a main feature of our preseason on the site. They're in-depth looks at key players, including pros and cons, and our staff projections. For years, we also included the best commentary from the Shark Pool. A few years ago, activity in the Pool died down and commentary waned. But, we have confidence in a resurgence. So here's the deal. Discuss your thoughts about the player in question. We'll pick the best comments from the bunch and use them (and give you credit) in the published articles. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ JuJu is coming off a top-five all-time rookie season at the position, at least in terms of per-target efficiency. Dating back 20 years - all the way to Randy Moss' 69-1,313-17 eruption of 1998 - JuJu's rookie year ended: 1st in yards/target (11.61, a yard more than anyone else) 7th in catch rate (73.4%) 13th in touchdown rate (12.1%) 3rd in PPR points/target (yes, better than Beckham) * among rookie wideouts with 50+ receptions Right now, he's going as the PPR WR19, ahead of Amari Cooper and Brandin Cooks, but behind Allen Robinson and Demaryius Thomas. So, what say us all? Does his efficiency regress too much to justify that ADP? Is the volume outlook in place for him to top 60-65 catches? Are you taking him over the guys above, or over the Volume Crew (Larry Fitzgerald/Jarvis Landry/Golden Tate)?
  9. I have 21.0% for Gordon - essentially the same - but with fewer games/less certainty, he falls behind a hair in raw targets. Attached are my CLE numbers as of now. I actually boosted his catch rate to 52%, kept his YPR wild at 17.4, and gave him a studly 10.0% touchdown rate. Over a 16-game season with a static role, that would work to 121-63-1,094-6.3. The fact that I gave him so many benefits of the efficiency doubts - it's exceptionally rare I ever project 17+ YPR, especially for a high-volume guy, and a 10% TD rate is a tough ask on a bad team - makes me feel good about being a little bearish on his target share. He certainly has a path to 70 catches, but his per-catch would dip some with that kind of volume. We never see Brown, Hopkins, or even Beckham sniff 17 YPR, because supplemental volume is typically added through more typical (short/underneath) usage. Which, again, is not Tyrod's forte. In my eyes, when we evaluate 2018 Gordon, we can't have it both ways - a mega-dynamic downfield assassin AND an efficient volume guy underneath. If I were given a clean slate to project 23-year-old Gordon for the 2014 season, I'd be more bullish, and probably project something like 80-1,350-9. But I can't simply throw the last five years away, nor can I assume Taylor/Mayfield are definitive 2018 saviors.
  10. Taylor's actually been a bit underrated over the last few years. He's truly a fine downfield passer. Every year, Jonathan Kinsley of Brick Wall Blitz does a comprehensive study of the deep ball, ranking the previous season's passers with an eye on pass depth, window openings, and defensive pressure. It's subjective, but a fine guide to the previous year's deep game. Last year, Taylor checked in seventh NFL-wide on the aggregate. According to Kinsley, "[Taylor] faced the 2nd highest rate of tight windows downfield, the 7th highest rate of pressure, and saw 9 of his accurate passes get wasted by incompletions." He was dynamite (in spurts) with Sammy Watkins, and according to Kinsley maximized the Bills' atrocious skill-position talent in 2017. That said, Taylor also comes with a host of worrisome issues. First and foremost, he's not a particularly good underneath guy. Quick reads, trapping defenses with shrewd look-offs, finding his safety valve at the chains - these aren't Taylor's strong suits. There's a reason the six quarterbacks ahead of him in the DBP were Brissett, Prescott, Rodgers, Ryan, Kizer, and Alex Smith. Hardly a list of the NFL's elite. And, yes, that's right. The awful DeShone Kizer was, by this exhaustive study, a stronger downfield passer last year than Taylor. And with Kizer, Gordon caught just 18 of 42 targets. On the surface, this all sounds like bad news for Jarvis Landry and good times for Gordon, but it's not quite that simple. If we want to peg Gordon as a deep-centric guy, then we have to strip away a lot of the volume we want to project onto him. Even armed with a deep thrower like Taylor, an NFL offense isn't going to add too many deep balls to its base offense. At the very least, we can't responsibly project it, especially in June. So, even if Gordon is 2013-dominant on the deep ball, it's still hard to work him past 60-65 catches. This isn't the Greatest Show on Turf. Even with scaled improvement, this offense looks like a sub-standard unit, one that will likely hurt for drive extensions and touchdown opportunity. In my eyes, a downfield-dynamic Gordon still doesn't project beyond around 65-1100-8 or so. Fine numbers, for sure, and destined to be top-20 marks among wideouts. But still a far, far cry from the 2013 ceiling many of us are looking it. There's also the concern (certainty?) that Taylor eventually loses the starting gig. Taylor was never definitively signed off on as a Bill, and Mayfield is the future - and a more NFL-ready prospect in my eyes than many other top quarterback picks. Taylor also tends to run his way into injuries, having missed time in every season as an NFL starter. There's a strong chance that by midseason: a) the Browns are floundering around 2-6; b) Taylor is struggling, at least a bit; c) Taylor goes down or is clearly limited by an injury; and/or d) the pressure is on from some other factor to get Mayfield under center And when Mayfield hits the huddle, I think we can project a downtick for Gordon. Mayfield was a truly fine downfield passer in school, but I won't expect him to hit the ground with a deep-oriented game plan. I'm expecting him to take on a simplified role, with Landry and Duke Johnson as primary reads underneath on a lot of throws, and Gordon used a bit more as a downfield novelty. Put it this way: if I project Gordon to take on 22% of targets from Taylor, I likely won't expect more than around 19% from Mayfield. That discrepancy doesn't leap off the page, but it's a drop of 17-20 targets over a full season, with likely less efficiency. All told - even with 2007 Tom Brady under center, it would be shortsighted to project Gordon particularly closely to his 2013 eruption. The fact that it's 2018 Tyrod/Mayfield gives me more optimism than I've had for the Browns in years, but still a generally underwhelming 2018 situation. I believe in being proactive, but not in assuming wild one-offs from five years ago are just around the corner.
  11. I'll preface by stating that I do, in general, like Gordon this year. In our FBG rankings, he's my PPR WR18, just below JuJu but ahead of Cooks and the Tate/Thomas/Crabtree volume crew. Tied for the highest mark on staff. But I simply can't get on board with some of the upside projections I'm seeing. Some are truly assigning him the same ceiling he showed in 2013 - over 22 PPR pt/gm, right in line with Antonio Brown's best season - and prescribing we leverage that level of upside. But even beyond the Gordon-obvious, there are several questions in play here. Namely, where does all of this volume come from? The 2013 Browns were an exceptionally high-paced offense, and they ran the ball a miniscule 32% of the time. Gordon's competition for WR targets was Davonne Bess and Greg Little. Conversely, these Browns are relatively slow-paced, and they're heavily invested in the run. They're also deeply, deeply invested in a perennial 90-catch slot man as an extension of that run game. We don't need to chase 2013 numbers to get Gordon value, of course, and it's not fair to demand them from a 3/4 pick. But to even project a line around 65 catches, you probably have to presuppose most if not all of the following: - Hue and Haley move quickly away from the run, after investing heavily in Hyde, Chubb, and Tyrod. - Haley speeds up the offense and creates significantly more snaps. This is possible, as PIT snaps ramped up gradually over his tenure, but Haley's resume is a complex and overstated one. He's captained 3 offenses that weren't led by HoF QBs, finishing 27, 13, and 28 in points. - Landry doesn't make much of a dent. I only give him 20.9% of targets - significantly lower than his Miami tenure - and that still eats up 120ish looks. - No other Browns make notable steps forward or dents in the pie. My numbers call for around 75 Duke targets and only tiny boosts for Njoku/DeValve, and that still keeps the WR targets relatively capped. Again, this is not a high-volume offense. - Gordon makes a leap of 7-10% in catch rate. Doable, as that's not a very sticky stat, but we have 40 games from which to profile Gordon's efficiency. Film is film, but it feels uncomfortable to make that leap in projection right now. - The team itself improves markedly, to the point that we can start expecting higher-efficiency throws and red zone usage and stop praying for 40-yard touchdowns. Here's the list of 8-TD wideouts over the last five years, and it's hard to find too many guys from 3-13-type teams in the bunch. Yes, Gordon was one of those guys in 2013, but that was truly an oddball season. - Taylor shows efficiency that he struggled for in Buffalo and/or Mayfield is a surprisingly adept downfield passer from Day One. In any event, there's no offensive shakeup or dip in production when Mayfield inevitably gets starts, and the passing game continues to hum along without issue. This is before we consider Gordon's many personal relapses, of course. Gordon is tantalizing and I'm high on him, as staff rankings suggest. But I think we can all agree his 2013 production isn't even a little bit projectable, and that there are more potential roadblocks between him and 1300-9 than many of his ADP-mates. It's a sizeable bet on Hue Jackson, the Browns, Tyrod Taylor, and Josh Gordon's sobriety. I'm a fairly proactive fantasy guy - again, I rank him as high as any other FBG ranker. But at cost, there are significantly better all-around situations to shoehorn those numbers into.
  12. 2013 was sheer magic. Can't take it away and wouldn't try to. But the otherworldly efficiency of that season was something we'd have been silly to project the next year, let alone five mostly-suspended years later. I know it's hard to lean on the 10 games since 2013 as a sample size. The circumstances were clearly against him in every sense. Still, the circumstances aren't much better now. QBs have posted ANY/As of 4.64 and 3.63 over Hue's CLE tenure, and Haley has a somewhat overstated resume. Tygod and Mayfield aren't big demonstrable upgrades; at the very least, we have to proceed here in June as though they aren't. Projecting intergalactic, 2013-esque efficiency would be deeply wishful, IMO, so I do think we need to trim the ceiling we collectively give him. 118 yd/gm isn't his ceiling; it's not happening again. Again, it wasn't projectably in the cards four years ago. The good news is that Gordon doesn't need that kind of efficiency to justify a 4.03 PPR ADP. He actually checks in among my projections as PPR WR21, behind Cooper but ahead of Crabtree/Fuller. That'd be a stout return from your fourth-rounder. @Matt Waldman recently mentioned in an FBG discussion that he makes for a fine WR3 if you're drafting Upside Down, which I agree with wholeheartedly, or as Zero-RB meat. If you can open, say, Julio-Beckham-Mixon-Gordon-DLewis, or Julio-Beckham-Hilton-Gordon-DLewis, then based strictly on projections you're looking like fried gold. But there's a demonstrable downside to Gordon that other sky's-the-limit guys in that range (Hilton, Diggs, JuJu) don't quite sink to. His likelihood of posting 0-0-0-0 is notably higher, which always matters at least a little, and the peripherals in the CLE offense are troubling. Even if he's truly still a man among boys, he's a shakier stab than most at ADP equity.
  13. I've got him on 7% of my early DRAFT rosters, and I'm not in a rush to boost that. He's become a guy I scoop up for diversification's sake, and only when he falls into 5 or 6. It's just... Gordon 2013 (14 gm) - 55% catch rate, 10.4 y/tg, 22.5 PPR/gm Gordon everywhere else (26 gm) - 50% catch rate, 7.8 y/tg, 10.4 PPR/gm We're not only reaching back five literal NFL years. We're also pushing in on the much smaller sample. And why now? Because Tyrod is on board? I'm not going to say Gordon is unworthy of a fourth because he's a risk; not even because he's a hefty risk. Leagues are won every year with busted fourth-rounders, anyway. I'd call him unworthy because his profile just doesn't suggest that the truly projectable ceiling matches the ADP once (substantial) risk is considered. Speaking from my own projections: even if I'm generous with his efficiency marks and award him a few long scores, I can't get him higher than 62-1079-7. Over 16 games. That's with a team-high 21.0% target share and a high TD rate. I wouldn't call that his true ceiling, of course, as he's already been a 150-target monster once. But it feels like a realistic one as a 1A/B in this Hue offense, with a QB situation not worlds better than the Hoyer/Manziel/Kizer stretch. You're likely forced to take him over similar ceilings and comfier floors in Hilton, JuJu, and Diggs.
  14. To clarify: no apparent, immediate bump. Right now I'm accounting for a lot of potential contributors in NE, however unlikely each may be. So my model is still sharing peripheral target rates among Hogan, Matthews, Mitchell, and Britt. As the season approaches, some of those names will fall out of my consideration and others will have sharper focus. FWIW I expect either Mitchell or Matthews to seize a role, not both, and my NE projections will streamline. I guess Gronk and Hogan did get small amounts of juice in my numbers as the top two options from W1-4, but nothing to move the needle too much right now. Neither really climb in my ideal ADP. Edit: Not to mention, all of these numbers are fed by what I project to a slight but noticeable downtick in play volume and uptick in run rate. All told, I have the entire offense losing 7 snaps and 19 dropbacks.
  15. Indeed, my projections don't bear out much of a Patterson dent. Even when giving Patterson a generous (for him) volume boost over those four games, he doesn't make a blip. No real boost for the others, either.