Mike Davis Explodes Up Fantasy Big Board with Jordan Howard Traded - Roto Street Journal
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Mike Davis Explodes Up Fantasy Big Board with Jordan Howard Traded

We raved about Mike Davis’ “Penny Stock” fantasy sleeper upside even before Jordan Howard was moved. Now that Howard’s an Eagle? Davis is exploding up my Big Board.

Even as an abysmal fit in Matt Nagy’s scheme, Howard finished as 2018’s half-ppr RB20, largely on the back of 9 TDs within this ascending offense. At a thick and stocky 217 lbs, Davis and his no-nonsense, downhill style should inherit this GL role, similarly offering 10+ TD upside. Yet, Davis is far more versatile as a pass-catcher and a better fit for Nagy’s inside-zone game, giving him the upside to easily surpass Howard’s fantasy totals. Though the Bears could always add a draft-day wrench, they have far greater needs and minimal capital to work with. Expect to Davis to offer very real RB2 upside at a Penny Stock price.

Most recognize the greater versatility Davis will bring to the Bears. He’s fresh off a 34 catch season where he posted an 81% reception rate (9th best in the NFL). Davis’ three-down ability will make this offense significantly less predictable and harder to defend. As Kareem Hunt illustrated, Nagy’s attack has always been most dangerous when unpredictable, which was not the case last year: the Bears ran 55% of the time when Howard was on the field last season (second most), yet only 37% with Cohen in (4th lowest).

Finding a “hybrid” back was one of Nagy’s clear priorities, as he stated at the Combine:

“When you’re dealing with running backs for us, in this offense, you want to be able to have a guy that has really good vision that can make guys miss… And at the same time, there’s that balance of being a hybrid, being able to make things happen in the pass game too, but yet to where you’re not one-dimensional.”

Uncoincidentally, Nagy went all-in on Davis the first day of free agency.

Beyond the obvious receiving improvements, Davis projects as a better fit for Nagy’s inside-zone running attack. He’s a determined churner who constantly gains positive yardage, especially up-the-gut. Nagy immediately cited Davis’ “vision” and ability to “make you miss between the tackles” as the runner’s greatest strengths, and Davis’ 4.79 YPC between the guards supports this. Conversely, despite a “bruiser” appearance, Howard was actually far-better in the outside run-game, struggling to a paltry 3.7 and 3.6 YPC between the guards over his past two seasons. Nagy called over 31% over his runs for Hunt between the guards, which was tops in the league. Davis is a proven producer inside, and could be a Hunt-lite in Chicago.

Indeed, Tarik Cohen will remain highly involved, and Davis may struggle to find 15-20 weekly touches in a committee-heavy attack. Yet, as a perfect fit for Nagy’s ascending attack, he drips in insane upside at his current 200ish ADP. This will undoubtedly rise, but at 80 overall on my board, the +123 ECR gap will likely close only so far.

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