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Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds.

This isn't a place to find out why you should have benched a player for somebody on your bench. Disaster Recovery is to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about benching, and deciding if you should be panicking at all about their value moving forward.

This season we'll be covering one dud per week. There will be two major qualifiers: the player must have performed well below expectations without an injury, and the player must be considered a must-start in most formats.

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Rankings System

I'll also be implementing a new panic meter ranking system this week. It goes as follows:

  1. This week was a fluke. Don't panic!
  2. I still have full faith in this player, but there are some red flags. Be cautiously optimistic moving forward.
  3. There are genuine concerns here. Consider selling on name value, but don't panic too much unless you receive an offer you can't refuse.
  4. This player will not be the player you expected him to be. Regardless, his value may be too low to trade, and his ceiling is going to be better than anything you can get in return. Panic, but hold tight.
  5. Absolutely abandon ship. We're not coming back from this.

For Week 2, we have the pleasure of talking about a player who's basically coming off the worst game of his career. David Johnson, welcome to dudleyville.

 

David is no longer Goliath?

David Johnson in Week 2 vs Los Angeles Rams: 48 yards on 13 carries, one reception for three yards on two targets. Let's dig into this performance.

The Good

He's healthy!

The Bad

Everything else. Johnson couldn't even eclipse his measly Week 1 touch total of 14. While his 3.7 yards per rush isn't the end of the world, it's a far-cry from what we expected Johnson to produce this year. He received absolutely no work in the passing game, catching one of his two targets. It was his worst pass catching day since Week 5 of his rookie season. Johnson played six snaps in that game, scored two touchdowns, and didn't receive any targets. If we only count games in which Johnson started and finished the game, this was the worst fantasy outing of his career.

The Ugly

The Cardinals offense. My god. I've been a Rams fan since I was a kid. I've watched a ton of terrible offenses put up terrible performances. This might have been worse than all of them.

Sam Bradford came out with something to prove against his former team, and boy did he prove absolutely nothing. Bradford completed 17 or 27 passes for 90 yards with an interception. His leading receiver had 28 yards. He couldn't even check down to David Johnson properly.

Bradford is not entirely at fault here. The coaching decisions were incredibly uninspired. The Cardinals knew they'd have a tough day ahead of them and it's like they didn't even try to do something different against the Rams. Arizona didn't pass midfield until the final thirty seconds of the game. Johnson saved his day last week with a late-game score, but the Cardinals couldn't even get past midfield on Sunday, let alone find the end zone.

 

Has the Roadrunner Become the Coyote?

David Johnson is used to bursting through holes and running wild. Now, he's crashing into walls. Can this problem be solved this season?

Failure to Launch

The good news for David Johnson is that it can't really get any worse. 50 total yards seems about right for his absolute fantasy floor. The Cardinals won't be playing the Rams every week. But how much faith can we have that it will get better?

The Cardinals are brutal. Absolutely brutal. They currently have the NFL's worst offense. Arizona is last in the league in the following categories: points, yards, offensive snaps, time of possession, 3rd down completion percentage, and first downs.  They're the only team in the league that hasn't had 100 offensive snaps, the only team averaging under 200 yards per game, and the only team averaging under 10 first downs per game. They've scored six points this season! Luckily for us, Johnson has scored all of them.

Johnson shoulders a small bit of the blame for this, as does every player on an offense this bad, but it mostly falls on the glass shoulders of Sam Bradford and on the coaching staff.

Déjà Vu?

Haven't we seen this before? A consensus top five pick having an atrocious year due to the putrid offensive system he's stuck playing in?

It happened to last season's fantasy MVP Todd Gurley in 2016. Gurley's volume never wavered throughout the season. He averaged 20 touches a game. Not ideal for your star player, but enough to work with. The problem was there was nothing else to work with on the entire offense. Without any semblance of a passing attack to complement the second-year back, defenses swarmed the box on every possession and gave Gurley no room to breathe. His highest rushing total on the season was 85 yards, and he only found the end zone six times.

The point of bringing up Todd Gurley is this: we expected that, at some point, it had to get better. Gurley was way too talented to drown the whole season, and we thought at some point the Rams would find a way to let him swim. They never did. Gurley stumbled towards the finish line. It wasn't until we saw an offensive overhaul that he returned to the player we all thought it was.

That's the ultimate concern for Johnson. Maybe it won't get better? Sure, it won't get worse, but does it really have to get better? Arizona has a lot of similarities with the 2016 Rams: bad coaching, bad quarterbacking, a lack of quality receivers (Larry Fitzgerald is obviously much better than anything the Rams had, but he's out there by himself), and an offensive line that leaves a lot to be desired. Even if you can look at this Rams game and call it another game against the league's best defense, you can't say the same thing about the loss to Washington in Week 1. The red flags are adding up for the red birds.

Panic Meter: 4/5

We can safely say that David Johnson will not produce 2016 David Johnson numbers in this system. Unless Josh Rosen takes over the job and produces like Deshaun Watson did last year, there just isn't enough going for this offense for it to happen. But that doesn't mean we should quit on DJ just yet.

Look, if you can't get a first round talent for Johnson right now, your teams ceiling is simply higher with him on the squad. We've seen players bounce back from two bad weeks before. Johnson is likely a better player than most of those players. He's a dual-threat back and will be relied on to help ease in the Cardinals rookie quarterback when he takes over the job. His usage should only go up from here.

Johnson will likely struggle against a tough Bears defense next week. There's a good chance we see Josh Rosen in Week 4 against a stumbling Seahawks team. Back-to-back division matchups in Week 4 and Week 5 will be key for Johnson moving forward. If the Cardinals can produce some resemblance of a competent offense in these games, DJ should at worst be a high-end RB2 for most of the season. At best, his volume and production will leave him as a middle-tier RB1.

The Cardinals need to find a way to get Johnson going to have a chance to win a single game this year. This seems like a given at this point. Unfortunately, it starts with having some success in the passing game. The next three games will prove is this is possible. If the Week 5 Cardinals are as bad as the Week 2 Cardinals, we'll have a major problem. For now, Johnson owners should stand pat. There isn't a player you can trade DJ for that will give your team a better chance at a title this year.

What To Watch For

Watch for things like red zone touches and total offensive snaps in the coming weeks. The Cardinals have had 53 and 45 snaps respectively, and have had one (!!!!!!!!) red zone possession all season. There's an outside chance that Johnson becomes touchdown dependent, which is freighting. The truth is that the Cardinals simply need to get to the red zone more often so that Johnson will be able to rack up yards on those drives. Ideally, he can get back to 100 total yards per game territory with a nice touchdown upside. Ideally...

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