TRADE RUMOR 🚨: A potential trade involving Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard has been one of the “hottest rumor(s)” among NFL scouts, per Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller.
Howard has been barely utilized in Tampa Bay’s high-volume passing attack with only 13 receptions, 176 receiving yards, and 0 TDs to his name through 6 games. Coming out of Alabama as the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Howard checked just about as many boxes as you could ask for. At 6’6” 251 lbs he has awesome size and stature for a tight end. He also killed the combine with his 4.51 speed and 11.01 Agility Score, which both rank in the 98th percentile amongst every TE to filter in and out of the league since 2013. He’s a dangerous receiver with that sort of size and athleticism, but he was also a capable blocker since the day he entered the league which is really rare to see from a young tight end.
In his first two NFL seasons, Howard was arguably THE MOST efficient TE in the league in terms of his receiving game. Heading into 2019 considering his prior efficiency, overall prospect profile, and the projected increased opportunity, I thought he was going to smash. Unfortunately, Howard has arguably been my biggest miss this season because as we covered earlier, he just hasn’t been utilized. That doesn’t mean Howard lacks the talent though. I still believe he’s going to develop into a top 3 TE in this league at least.
Just through my own research if I had to rank Howard’s top 5 most likely landing spot via trade, it’d be:
Just to be clear, with all trade rumors we must understand that they are just RUMORS and odds are nothing will come of them, but with Jason Licht at GM, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Howard was dealt. It’s also worth noting that when asked about Seattle only having two healthy TEs on the roster, HC Pete Carroll said the team was “working on some stuff”. Could mean a trade is in the works for Howard or someone else, which is why the Seahawks are No. 1 on my most likely destinations.
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So who is this Allen Lazard guy? Lazard, the relatively unknown second-year receiver out of Iowa State, suddenly emerged onto the scene in the 4th quarter of the Packers’ 23-22 win over Lions where he caught 4 passes for 65 yards and 1 TD.
Coming out of Iowa State as the Cyclones’ all-time leading receiver, Lazard went undrafted in the 2018 which was surprising to me at the time. I had him projected to be a Day 3 pick, but his name just wasn’t ever called.
Eventually he landed on the Packers roster and injuries to Davante Adams, MVS, Geronimo Allison, Equanimeous St Brown, and the trading of Trevor Davis all led to Lazard getting his chance to shine on Monday.
Looking at Lazard’s overall profile, we know he’s a big contested catch guy at 6’5” 227 lbs. His 88th percentile Size-Adjusted Speed Score is actually pretty impressive and his 74th percentile Burst Score is also solid, but he does lack the short area quickness with only a 25th percentile Agility Score. That’s kind of to be expected though for someone of his stature.
In college Lazard had an above-average 33.1% Dominator Rating which ranks in the 61st percentile amongst all NFL receivers and a promising 19.7 Breakout Age which ranks in the 72nd percentile. Good production and an early breakout at a major Big 12 school. From a predictive metrics standpoint, those are pretty good measures.
On film you can see his body control in contested areas is really good and tracking the ball is one of his strengths. He’s strong at the catch point and is obviously a threat in the red zone with that size. Lazard is far from a perfect prospect though. He could use some work on his route running and needs more burst out of his breaks. He can look too slow sometimes on tape. He also can suffer from the occasional concentration drop which can’t happen at the next level.
This guy was on just about every dynasty league waiver wire a few days ago, so he’s definitely worth a pickup now if he’s still there. With Adams, MVS, and Allison all on the injury report still, Lazard should continue to get meaningful snaps and could even be starting in 3-receiver sets by the end of the year.
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The Josh Gordon breakout is coming, and it could realistically happen as soon as this Thursday night against the Giants.
Gordon has been pretty disappointing so far in his return from a fantasy perspective, as his 10.6 PPR Points/Game rank him as the WR46. Having said that, the opportunity for Gordon has been there so far. With no Antonio Brown in the fold for the past three weeks, Gordon and Julian Edelman have seen an identical 8.67 targets/game. Gordon also has the 7th best Target Separation in the league through 5 games which is pretty impressive when you take into account the routes he’s asked to run.
Going up against the Giants on Thursday night he’ll be primarily covered by Janoris Jenkins, a corner who I think is extremely overrated. His -1.5 Coverage Rating through 5 weeks ranks 47th in the league amongst corners, his 65.1% Catch Rate Allowed ranks 43rd, and his 112.3 Passer Rating Allowed ranks 44th. Jenkins is a fake lockdown cover corner, but Gordon on the other hand is a true alpha No. 1 receiver. I think Jenkins could get burnt up this Thursday, which should lead to a very productive fantasy outing from Gordon.
I think Gordon is a really solid WR2 or FLEX play. Now would be a really good time to buy low on him before it’s too late!
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Dede Westbrook has been largely overshadowed by the performance of D.J. Chark in that Jacksonville passing game so far this year, but heading into Week 6 against the Saints, I think Westbrook could be in for a big day.
In 2018, Saints slot CB P.J. Williams was one of the most exploitable defensive backs in the league. This season Williams has improved his play slightly, but starting slot receivers have still had REALLY productive games against the Saints so far this year, averaging 5.8 receptions, 95.4 yards, and 1 TD per game.
With Westbrook’s big play ability and the fact he’s seeing over 78% of his snaps in the slot, I think this is a prime matchup for him to exploit.
In seasonal leagues I think it’s worth trying to fit him into as many FLEX spots as you can, and in DFS I think Westbrook is a good play in both cash and in GPPs.
NFL NEWS: It’s “highly unlikely” that WR A.J. Green signs an extension with the Bengals and some GMs around the league believe Cincinnati could net a 1st Round pick in exchange for Green via trade, per Jason La Canfora.
Green is 31-years-old entering the final year of his contract and is currently you rehabbing an ankle injury. I don’t think any GM should or would give up significant draft capital like that for an older pending free agent, even though Green is one of the better receivers in the league when healthy.
The Bengals are 0-5 and in a complete rebuild mode right now, so trading Green before he just walks outright in free agency wouldn’t be a bad idea, it just comes down to how much the other GMs from around the league are willing to pay.
It’s also worth noting that La Canfora hasn’t been the most reliable source in the past, so there may be some holes in this report. Having said that, I think the part about Green not signing an extension in Cincy might have some validity to it.
This is definitely a situation worth keeping an eye on.
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