Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Is Duke Johnson Ready for the Big Time?


The fantasy football community was sent into a tailspin over the weekend with two major pieces of news. Of course, we have all heard about the Andrew Luck retirement and its ramifications. But Texans RB Lamar Miller was lost for the 2019 season due to a torn ACL. With many drafts already come and gone, it sent owners scrambling to their team page to see if they were hit with the news. If you dodged the bullet in either case, consider yourself lucky.

Now with Lamar Miller on the sidelines, the question becomes how will the Texans backfield shake out? Many unproven talents are vying for the starting RB job. Among them are Josh Ferguson, Buddy Howell, and rookies Karan Higdon and Damarea Crockett. The two rookies have been gaining steam throughout the preseason, but are likely not ready for a large piece of the workload.

The player that has everyone buzzing right now is the newly acquired Duke Johnson. But what does he truly bring to the table for fantasy owners now that he finally has a chance for a bigger role, as he has always craved?

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

 

Underused Efficiency

Since being drafted in 2015 to the Cleveland Browns, Johnson has been largely viewed as a pass-catching third-down specialist. His lowest reception total coming just last season with only 47 as the team began to phase him out of the gameplan and give a majority of the workload to Nick Chubb. During his time in Cleveland, Johnson has been a usable commodity in fantasy due to his skills as a PPR asset, finishing as high as RB11 in 2017 with 74 receptions on the year. Outside of that season, he has been a consistent option as an RB3/Flex play.

But now with Miller gone, can we expect for Johnson to become more of a featured back in the NFL? History in the league would tell us no. His 104 carries in his rookie season are the most that he has had in four seasons. Over the last two seasons, he has only carried the ball 122 times. The argument can be made that he has fresh legs and would be able to withstand an increase in workload. He has shown in the past that he can handle a three-down job during his days in college (242 carries in 2014).

The 2018 season for Johnson was a bit of an up and down year from a statistical standpoint. His 87 touches accounted for only 20% in the Browns backfield that consisted of Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb. But in those 87 touches, he ranked third in the league in yards after contact at 4.13. So you could say that he should have demanded more usage in the backfield with that type of elusiveness.

His 1.47 points per touch was also a stat that ranked high among other backs in fantasy a season ago. Putting him ahead of players like Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. Am I making the case that Johnson is on the same level as those players? Not at all, but what that shows is that Johnson could be a player with untapped potential and the Texans could be smart to feature him for the 2019 season.

 

RB1? Not So Fast

But such is the case in today's NFL, a player such as Johnson is likely to not see a bell-cow job just handed to him due to the injury of the incumbent starter. He deserves the chance to show the team what he can do and with the way things ended in Cleveland, he could be playing with a large chip on his shoulder. How I expect for this situation to play out is for the Texans to watch the waiver wire very closely over the next week for some talented backs to be shown the door.

Players like Carlos Hyde and LeSean McCoy are the two names to watch in particular. They will bring a veteran presence for HC Bill O'Brien to use in the backfield. This team is poised to make a run in the playoffs and he may not be comfortable riding out the season relying on an unproven rusher such as Johnson. So to answer the question that I pose in the title of the article, I do think that Johnson has the capabilities to be ready for the big time as a three-down NFL back. But with the possibilities that the Texans likely make this a shared backfield, it's hard to buy in on Johnson as his draft stock is already skyrocketing.

Since the Miller injury on Saturday, Johnson has already been seen creeping up into the early stages of the fifth round in drafts. That puts him in the range with players like Tevin Coleman, Miles Sanders, and Austin Ekeler. Where things stand right now, drafting Johnson could be a cautionary tale as we don't have all of the story quite yet. If the team decides to go with what they have into the season, Johnson could rise from his RB3 value up into high-end RB2 territory.

If you have a draft coming up, keep an eye out on all of the news. For dynasty owners, strike while the iron is hot with Johnson. His value will never be any higher than it is now based on the perception. At least throw some offers out there to gauge the interest of RB needy owners in your league.

More Fantasy Football Analysis




More Recent Articles

 

Week 7 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

Even if this doesn’t turn out to be great MNF game, at least it's a divisional game with some importance. This is what Jets fans need to tell themselves heading into their second Monday Night Football game of the season. With the New England Patriots coming to town off their annual semi-bye in which they... Read More


Week 8 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

It's Chase Edmonds' world, we're just living in it. Wait, what? Hopefully you added him, as suggested in this column the past two weeks, because even if David Johnson is deemed healthy enough to actually play, it's likely Edmonds continues to see action. In QB news, by the halfway point of Thursday night, we already had... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 8

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered planning for Week 8. Some of you are ecstatic with the level of production that has been delivered by your running backs. But many of you have been contending with unwanted developments at this position including injuries, inconsistent usage, and... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 8

We're heading into Week 8 of the NFL season. By now, some of y'all are getting a good sense of where you're at fantasy-wise, if you're heading to the postseason or playing for fun or, in a dynasty league, building for the future. This look at wide receivers is for all of you. As we... Read More


Week 8 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

A two-team bye week is a lot easier for fantasy football players to navigate than a four-team bye week. Fantasy owners are going to have to live without Dallas’ Jason Witten and Baltimore’s Mark Andrews in Week 8. If you have one of the those players as your starting tight end, the problem is that... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 8

Tragedy struck a few top quarterbacks this week, as both Patrick Mahomes and Matt Ryan left games with injuries. We already know Mahomes will miss 3-6 weeks, while more will be revealed about Ryan's status later today. Either way, owners of these quarterbacks will need a backup plan in place, and this week the waiver... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 8 Lightning Round

The better part of seven weeks is in the fantasy football books, making those early trends very real -- for better or worse. One must still consider the matchups played thus far and those to come, but usage and volume are becoming reliable. Week 8 sees the Ravens and Cowboys hit their bye week. To... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 7 Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss several weeks. Matt Ryan is out for the game with an... Read More


Week 7 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


NFL Matchup Ratings Tool - Weekly Player Projections

  If you see the red "Upgrade" button below, then you are not a Premium subscriber, or have not yet logged in. Learn more about our NFL Matchup Ratings and projections system.   NFL Matchup Ratings - Weekly Lineup Projections FLEX RB WR TE QB DEF K ** click column headers to sort table Player... Read More


Week 7 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 7... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Updated Week 7 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 7 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 7 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Geronimo Allison are both active. Todd Gurley is officially active, Malcolm Brown is out. Christian Kirk is not expected to play this week. David... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 7

Welcome to our Week 7 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target in Week 7

In Week 6, Julio Jones didn't score, but he came through with a decent fantasy day, going over 100-yards receiving. Brandin Cooks brutal Week 6 showing was a little bit of a surprise given his 2018 track record against the 49ers, but the Rams offensive line was overwhelmed which led to a rough day for... Read More


The King's Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 7

Welcome to Week 7, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football season. These player selections are based off my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More