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What to do with O.J. Howard in Week 11 fantasy football

O.J. Howard finally found the end zone in last week’s win over the Cardinals. Was that the start of a breakout or simply the result of a good matchup?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard reacts during the second quarter against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium. Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Though it might not have quite lived up to the expectations of some, O.J. Howard did come through with his best performance of the season in Tampa Bay’s 30-27 win over Arizona last weekend. Howard tied his season-high with four catches, he set a new season-high with seven targets and, most importantly, for the first time in 2019 Howard got into the end zone. However, the conditions under which he produced these statistics could not have been kinder. The Cardinals are not only the NFL’s most generous opponent when it comes to tight ends, but they come into Week 11 operating at the league’s fastest pace. That means opponents of Arizona tend to get a a bit of an overall volume bump, like how we saw the Buccaneers run an insane 83 offensive plays in a regulation contest on Sunday. I wouldn’t be holding my breath for a similar script versus the Saints.

New Orleans is almost the polar opposite of the Cardinals in every way imaginable. Where Arizona is quick to the line, the Saints entered their matchup with the Falcons last week as the NFL’s most methodical offensive unit, taking over 30 seconds in-between plays. New Orleans has also allowed just 202.0 passing yards per game and an NFC-low 4.9 yards per passing attempt across their past three matchups. The Cardinals might have surrendered over nine targets per game to opposing TEs, but the Saints have conceded a microscopic 5.3 per contest — the seventh-lowest mark in all of football. If Howard’s going to show his success in Week 10 was more than simply taking advantage of a susceptible Arizona defense, he’s certainly got his work cut out for him.

Fantasy Football Analysis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard

While its hard not to be a little optimistic about a clearly-skilled pass-catcher breaking out and playing 98.8% of his team’s offensive snaps, the idyllic setting Howard was allowed to traverse in Week 10 is no longer around to elevate his floor. We’re back to an inconsistent TE having to face a tough defense within the confines of an offensive system that’s targeted the tight end position on only 15% of passing plays so far this season — the sixth-lowest mark in football. I can understand Howard as a desperation option in season-long, with George Kittle, Austin Hooper and Evan Engram all unavailable this week, but that’s about it.

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