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2017 Projections: Jordan Howard and the Chicago Bears

In this series, I use an internal version of the Projection Machine to explore likely outcomes for offensive players on all 32 NFL teams.

The Projection Machine employs a top-down approach that builds on team-wide assumptions to develop expectations of offensive output. I will use staff averages to help guide the inputs underlying the projections. Check out this article for further information on the process used by the RotoViz team. All 2017 Chicago Bears projections are based on PPR scoring.

Scoring Margin Pass Tendency Pace Tendency
League 75th percentile 1.00 0.02 0.85
League 50th percentile -1.25 -0.01 -0.85
League 25th percentile -3.75 -0.04 -2.70
Bears 2015 -4.40 -0.01 0.50
Bears 2016 -4.50 -0.06 -3.00
Bears 2017 (Projection) -4.20 -0.00 -2.00

Chicago will struggle to put points on the board while operating at a slow pace. The team would prefer to run the offense through Jordan Howard. But playing from behind will force it to pass. Both Pythagorean win percentage and Vegas estimate the Bears will improve by a game or two. I accounted for this in my projection. Given these inputs, the Projection Machine forecasts 584 passing and 400 rushing attempts.

Jordan Howard is a Bell Cow

Howard controlled 66 percent of team rushes last season. He was efficient, recording 5.2 yards per attempt.1 I expect Howard’s rushing share to remain the same in 2017, but I reduced his efficiency to 65th percentile rates. Howard can expect a target share of nine percent and will be a major factor in Chicago’s offense. Tarik Cohen will backup Howard, but doesn’t project as a usable fantasy player.

Howard, Jordan 264 1,162 7 49 32 292 1 223
Cohen, Tarik 52 203 1 27 19 154 0 63

My projection for Howard aligns with the staff average of 227 points. With a standard deviation of 24, per the RotoViz Projection Wizard, Howard’s range of likely outcomes is between 197 and 251 fantasy points. The staff average projects Cohen for 61 points with a standard deviation of 28.

Cameron Meredith is the WR to Own

The RotoViz staff thinks Cameron Meredith will be the wide receiver to own in Chicago. His projected target share of 21 percent is low for a WR1. This will limit his ceiling but he should be able to beat his current ADP of WR40. Kevin White projects as the team’s WR2, absorbing 17 percent of team targets. Moderate efficiency is assumed for both receivers. The RotoViz staff was unable to agree on Chicago’s WR3. Our writers were split between Victor Cruz, Kendall Wright, and Markus Wheaton. There’s a good chance that each player will get a shot at the role as the season evolves. In this scenario, roughly 26 percent of team targets would be divided by the three. Which, as Heith Krueger put it, “is like splitting up grandma’s Christmas fruit cake.”    

Meredith, Cameron 114 72 937 13.10 5 194
White, Kevin 92 54 644 11.86 3 138
Bears WR3 54 32 433 13.33 2 88

Meredith’s staff average projection is 199 points, with a standard deviation of 21. This positions him firmly in WR3 range. The staff average gives White 128 points and a standard deviation of 18. Due to the lack of consensus surrounding Chicago’s WR3 role, Cruz, Wright, and Wheaton are all projected to go under 45 points.

Just Avoid the Tight Ends

The RotoViz staff projects Zach Miller with 11 percent of targets. Some writers believe that Dion Sims could challenge him for targets. Either way, the Chicago TE corps is one to avoid.

Miller, Zach 60 36 432 11.89 3 97

Miller’s average projection per the RotoViz staff is 83 points with a standard deviation of 11.

Forget About the Quarterbacks

Allegedly, Mike Glennon will be the Bears’ starter in 2017. He may be worth a stash in 2QB leagues, but surpassing 200 points doesn’t appear to be a lock.

Glennon, Mike 541 329 0.61 3,789 16 16 24 30 1 207

The staff average projects Glennon for 197 points, with a standard deviation of 11.

  1. 5.2 yards per attempt was fifth highest among backs with 100 or more attempts in 2016.  (back)

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