There’s been no shortage of excitement around Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb following the team’s trade of Carlos Hyde to the Jacksonville Jaguars. And while that’s understandable, there’s also another name for both fans and fantasy football players to be excited about. This would be pass-catching extraordinaire, Duke Johnson.
The team’s decision to move Hyde opens up a ton of carries for both Chubb and Johnson moving forward. While Chubb will likely handle the bulk of the work on the ground, this situation still bodes very well for Johnson also. Specifically, in point-per-reception fantasy leagues, owners who have Johnson on their roster are likely feeling good right now.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the numbers and break down what the recent trade of Hyde could mean for Johnson and his workload. Most importantly, I’ll evaluate the start-sit debate for the 25-year-old against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Key Stats and Duke Johnson’s Fantasy Outlook
I’ll first look at the matchup, recent production and specifically how the snap counts could play out for Johnson in Week 7. All information on fantasy points and statistics for defense vs. position are from ESPN.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. running backs in 2018: 96 attempts, 333 yards, 31 receptions, 333 receiving yards, eight total touchdowns (No. 7 most fantasy points per game)
- Carlos Hyde played 35 percent of the snaps in Week 5 and 43 percent in Week 6, per Football Outsiders. Johnson played 51 and 47 percent in that two-week span.
- Johnson has totaled 164 receiving yards on 14 catches this season and has nine receptions in the last three games.
- Johnson has topped 35 rushing yards in each of the past two games
While the Buccaneers aren’t bad against running backs on paper, they’ll face an interesting test against the Browns young duo. The 31 receptions, 333 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns Tampa Bay has allowed bodes well for Johnson. Based on the snaps which are now freed up with Hyde leaving town, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Johnson receive 60-65 percent of the snaps offensively.
Should You Start or Sit Duke Johnson?
I love this spot for Johnson against a team capable of giving up big plays early and often. The Buccaneers have allowed a league-worst 34.6 points per game this season. If the Browns are able to flirt with 30 points this week, it would almost certainly mean the pass-catching back either found the end zone or had a big day in terms of total yards.
The fact that the Browns’ primary target out of the backfield has also found some success on the ground only adds to his potential fantasy upside. While I don’t expect Johnson to receive double-digit carries, it’s not unrealistic to expect him to see 5-7 attempts along with his targets. It’s apparent the team’s coaching staff is confident in Johnson as well as Chubb, otherwise, they wouldn’t have dealt Hyde.
I think Johnson is in play in all point-per-reception fantasy leagues in Week 7. He’s a great option in 12-team leagues or larger, but I don’t mind him at all in 10-team leagues if you need a starter.