The increased use of committee backfields in the NFL has led to more and more cloudy situations in fantasy football. Coaches are often mum (or haven't made a decision) with their intentions, leaving fantasy owners dealing with a ton of uncertainty when projecting running backs.
Something that seems to happen every offseason is a team brings in a proven (but unexciting) free-agent back while also addressing the running back position with a fairly high draft pick. And that's exactly what's going on with the Philadelphia Eagles, who signed Jordan Howard while also spending a second-round pick on Penn State's Miles Sanders.
At this point, it's all speculation when it comes to trying to figure out who's going to lead that backfield and who should be the handcuff, but in all likelihood it's going to be a close race. ESPN projections guru Mike Clay just released his latest outlook for the 2019 Eagles offense, and he gives Howard a slight edge over Sanders on the ground.
It's notable that Clay projects Sanders' edge in receiving work to give him more fantasy points on the 2019 NFL season, but he gives Howard the edge in rushing attempts, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.
Howard ranks third in the NFL with 778 rush attempts since being drafted in 2016, and we know he's more than capable of handling a big workload. However, his lack of efficiency last year, averaging only 3.7 yards per attempt, has left plenty of room for doubt coming into this season.
But we shouldn't read too much into that one season. Over his career, Howard averages 4.3 yards per carry, which is good for seventh among the 16 backs with at least 500 carries and second among the nine backs with at least 600 carries since 2016. When you consider the workload he has shouldered, Jordan has actually been quite an efficient rusher.
Sanders is an exciting prospect though, and it's tough to ignore the buzz building around the rookie.
An explosive playmaker like Sanders is always going to be a threat to earn an expanded role over the course of the season, and that's especially true when it's combined with the heavy investment of a second-round draft pick.
Veterans often get the benefit of the doubt to start the season, and Howard isn't exactly a middling journeyman. He's shown the ability to produce at the NFL level, and that could keep him ahead of Sanders well into the season.
Sanders is the higher-upside pick for fantasy football, thanks in part to his added receiving ability, but these projections are another sign that we shouldn't be writing off Howard just yet. The veteran's average draft position (ADP) is slightly later than the rookie's, going at RB35 and RB32, respectively. That could actually make Howard an intriguing value pick, but our best advice would be to handcuff the two backs in your 2019 fantasy leagues. If you select one, make sure to snag the other just a few slots later.
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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.