Fantasy 5: Don’t go all-in on O.J. Howard just yet

The fantasy community has been all over the rookie TE since he was drafted. Jeff Ratcliffe on that and more stories of the day.

| 2 weeks ago
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Fantasy 5: Don’t go all-in on O.J. Howard just yet

(The Fantasy 5 is a quick-hit wrap-up of some of the biggest news topics of the day for fantasy football players, giving you advice you need to improve your team.)

We don’t have any updates yet on Jeremy Maclin or Eric Decker, but there are a few things fantasy players need to know from around the NFL this past weekend.

1. Pump the brakes on O.J. Howard

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the rookie first-rounder, but fantasy players make want to slow their roll a bit on Howard. Cameron Brate continues to have good chemistry with Jameis Winston in OTAs, which gives credence to the idea that he could open the season as the starter. That’s not to say that Howard won’t have a role in the offense, but Brate’s presence will almost certainly limit Howard’s opportunities.

Fantasy drafters generally seem to be ignoring Brate, as Howard continues to come off the board as a top-12 tight end. His current ADP is in the 10th round, which puts him ahead of Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, and upside option Jack Doyle. There’s no denying Howard’s appeal, but the situation suggests he’s being significantly overdrafted. He’s much better valued as a late-round flier in the same range where fellow rookies Evan Engram and David Njoku are currently going.

2. Ameer Abdullah shining in OTAs

The third-year back who missed most of last season with a Lisfranc injury is reportedly showing impressive burst and versatility in Lions OTAs. Specifically, Tim Twentyman of the Lions team website said Abdullah is the best two-way back on the team and that the Lions’ offense “is noticeably different with him on the field.”

It certainly isn’t shocking that Abdullah is an upgrade on Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington, but how are we supposed to process this information for fantasy purposes? While it isn’t fair to argue that there’s Abdullah hype right now, he is a player with some fantasy buzz.

At the same time, it’s important to consider the impact of Taylor Decker’s recent shoulder surgery. Decker is expected to miss 4-6 months, which makes him all but guaranteed to open the season on the PUP. With Decker sidelined, the Lions will likely use journeyman Tony Hills at left tackle. That’s a fairly significant downgrade that will impact the run game. So while there’s certainly some things to like about Abdullah, it’s tough to recommend considering him any early that his current ADP in the early sixth round.

3. Tyler Lockett progressing

Per the Seattle Times, Lockett took part in individual drills at Seahawks OTAs, which is a positive sign for the third-year receiver. Lockett suffered a nasty broken leg last season, and he’s insisted throughout the offseason that he’ll be back by training camp. This news suggests that could be a possibility, though there’s also a chance we don’t see him in action until the season starts.

One of the more dynamic players in the league, Lockett was in the midst of a mild breakout when the injury occurred in Week 16 last season. Despite the Seahawks conservative offensive tendencies, Lockett possess so sneaky fantasy appeal this season. Better yet, you can currently get him at a healthy discount as a late-round flier.

4. Hot-hand approach for Washington backfield?

According to Redskins’ offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh, the Redskins will keep the running back with the hot hand on the field. In other words, we’re likely to see a committee situation at least in the early goings of the season with both Rob Kelley and rookie Samaje Perine getting work in early down situations.

We’ve updated this story numerous times over the last few months, but our advice remains the same: Avoid Kelley and target Perine. While Kelley did a serviceable job last season, his performance tailed off down the stretch with an average of just 3.3 yards per carry over the last six weeks of the season. He ranked a lowly 31st among running backs in fantasy scoring during that span. Perine enters the league on the heels of a strong college campaign and has the build to hold up to an NFL workload.

ADP has shifting fairly dramatically for Kelley since the draft, with his stock dropping a nearly 20 picks to the late-sixth round. On the other hand, Perine has steadily climbed and is currently coming off the board just two rounds later as the No. 40 running back. The value isn’t quite what it once was with Perine, but he’s still the more desirable pick based on current ADP.

5. Is there a Ravens tight end to own in fantasy?

Dennis Pitta’s 2017 season ended before it even started after the veteran tight end suffered yet another dislocated hip in OTAs. With Pitta out of the mix, the Ravens don’t have a clear-cut top receiving option at tight end. However, word from the Ravens beat suggests Nick Boyle could replace Pitta as the starter. While that’s certainly a possibility, fantasy players shouldn’t get too excited here. Boyle was a decent receiver at the University of Delaware, but he has just 24 receptions in his two professional seasons.

| Director of Fantasy

Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.

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