Welcome to Learning from History, where I dig into every fantasy season since 1985 to find historical comparisons for modern players.
Today's subject is O.J. Howard, a young tight end of whom much is expected in 2019. Last year, Zach Ertz caught more passes than any tight end in history, George Kittle had more receiving yards than any tight end in history, and Travis Kelce scored more fantasy points than either of them; in drafts this offseason those three tight ends are naturally the first three players selected at the position. But Howard has emerged as the consensus fourth player off the board, and many believe he has what it takes to join the three luminaries above him in 2019. Given what we know about Howard, how realistic are those expectations?
Before we begin, here's the quick introduction that dives into the methods and the goals of the series. If you want a better explanation of what I mean by "value", or if you wonder about the advantages or limitations of historical comparisons, that's a great place to start. (If you enjoy the series and want to read more, that page also includes links to every installment.)
On the other hand, if you just want to know what might lie in store for O.J. Howard based on the players who have come before, read on.
Comparison #1: Highly-Drafted Tight Ends
If you've read my analysis of Eric Ebron, this chart will look awfully familiar to you. This is every tight end drafted in the first round between 1985 and 2014, along with how much career fantasy value they produced. (No tight ends were drafted in the first round of 2015 or 2016 and it's far too early for first-round tight ends from Howard's class of 2017 to provide any meaningful points of comparison.)