Player Showdown: O.J. Howard or David Njoku?
(All offseason, Michael Moore will be looking at some specific draft conundrums facing drafters in an effort to determine which player should be the preference.)
As tight ends drafted in the first round of the same draft in 2017 — along with Evan Engram — O.J. Howard and David Njoku will likely forever be linked and compared to each other. And if their first seasons are any indication, their careers will be a hotly debated topic for years to come. They finished their rookie years with similar stat lines — Njoku caught 32 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns for the Browns, while Howard caught 26 passes for 432 yards and six scores for the Bucs. They now both enter their second year as guys who could be borderline TE1 options or guys who could slip down to the bottom of the TE2 ranks.
Let’s find out which one should go higher.
We’ll start with the player drafted first in 2017, Howard. His 26 receptions for 432 yards and six touchdowns were nothing special and good for just 16th in fantasy scoring among tight ends. But below the surface, Howard proved to be just as efficient as the game’s top tight ends. His 1.83 yards per route run was fifth behind fantasy studs Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and Hunter Henry. His 0.35 fantasy points per opportunity was good for fourth. Howard was able to be that efficient for two reasons — the first was his drop rate (he dropped just one of 27 catchable passes), and the second was deep-ball success (on a small sample, he caught five out of six targets that were more than 20 yards in the air).