Prior to going down with an injury, Arizona Cardinals running back seemed to have finally recaptured the form that at one point made him arguably the most valuable fantasy football player in the league.
However, without Johnson in the team’s lineup for the majority of the past three games, the offense has gone on with business as usual. In fact, some could argue that the unit has operated even better without DJ at their disposal.
Can Johnson step back into his rightful place atop the Cardinals running back depth chart and continue on his way to a prolific 2019 campaign? Or has the presence of Kenyan Drake in Arizona made Johnson’s fantasy outlook murky ahead of Week 10? Let’s discuss.
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David Johnson’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running back David Johnson started off the 2019 season extremely hot. From Week 1 through Week 6 Johnson averaged 20.2 PPR points per game, good enough for the fifth-highest scoring total by a player at his position.
Unfortunately for Johnson and his fantasy owners, a plethora of injuries began to stack up for the former All-Pro running back, causing him to miss the past two weeks, along with all but three plays from Week 7.
Yet, after a near-month hiatus, Johnson seems finally ready to once again carry the load for the Cardinals offense. The real question is, does Arizona need him to?
First, it was Johnson’s backup Chase Edmonds taking the league by storm, averaging 22.4 fantasy points over a three-game span. Then, when Edmonds himself was bitten by the injury bug, the Cardinals decided to make a move and trade for former Miami Dolphin Kenyan Drake. All Drake did in his first game as a Cardinal one week ago was put up 162 total yards and a touchdown against arguably the league’s best defense in the San Francisco 49ers.
If one thing has become abundantly clear, it is that Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona is the perfect setting for running backs to thrive. If you combine Johnson’s first six games of the season with Edmonds lone full-game as a starter prior to injury, and Drake’s performance from a week ago, you would come up with a scoring average of 23.05 fantasy points. If that number was produced by one single player, that said player would currently sit as the third highest-scoring fantasy running back and the fifth-highest scoring fantasy player overall for 2019.
However, whoever is in the backfield for Arizona this week will be faced with their most difficult test to date this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been phenomenal all season at defending the running back position, allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. The likes of superstar talents such as Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, and Christian McCaffrey (twice) combined for an average of just 31.2 rushing yards against the Bucs this year. Tampa Bay ranks as the league’s best run defense in football, allowing less than 79 total rushing yards per game to opposing teams. They’ve also allowed only one rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 4.
Should You Start or Sit David Johnson in Week 10?
Kenyan Drake will undoubtedly see the field this Sunday, he’s too talented not to. Yet, if any offense in the NFL is capable of allowing multiple running backs to produce at a high-level, it would be the one in Arizona.
Johnson may find it difficult racking up his typical RB1 numbers we’ve come accustomed to from him this season based on the tough matchup. However, he’s a solid mid-to-low RB2 based off of his 2019 resume, along with, most importantly, his prowess as a receiver.
Johnson has caught six-plus receptions in all but two of his full games this season. Excluding Saquon Barkley (left with injury in the first half), running backs to catch four-plus passes against the Bucs this year averaged 21.54 fantasy points.