Throughout the first six weeks of the 2019 NFL season, David Johnson fantasy owners believed they had the type of running back talent to carry their teams to a potential league championship.
Since then, injuries, and the Cardinals’ personnel moves in response to those injuries, have decimated Johnson’s fantasy value.
Can the one-time locked-in RB1 reclaim his spot at fantasy supremacy? Or has DJ become nothing more than just a handicap to Kenyan Drake in the Arizona backfield? Let’s discuss.
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David Johnson’s Fantasy Outlook vs. Los Angeles Rams
From Week 1 through Week 6 of this season, David Johnson averaged an impressive 20.2 fantasy points per game, dominating touches in both the running and passing game. Over that span, DJ played no fewer than 70% of the offensive snaps in any game while averaging nearly 18 touches per game. Johnson quickly became a favorite target of rookie signal-caller Kyler Murray, hauling in six-plus receptions in four of those six games.
However, it’s been all downhill since then for Johnson and his fantasy owners. Johnson suffered an injury in Week 6, and while the Cardinals made him active for the following game, he touched the ball just one lone time before exiting for the remainder of the contest, much to the dismay of ESPN’s Matthew Berry.
Johnson would go on to miss the team’s next two games, and after Johnson’s backup Chase Edmonds was bitten by the injury bug himself, the Cardinals were forced to deal for Miami Dolphins castoff Kenyan Drake.
While Drake stared in his first game for the Cardinals totaling 162 yards from scrimmage against a stout San Francisco 49ers defense, the majority of people expected Drake’s reign in the Arizona backfield to come to an abrupt end once Johnson returned to the lineup. Apparently, the Cardinals had different ideas.
Johnson has played in two games since returning from injury and has played a grand total of 39 offensive snaps, including a meager nine in his most recent outing. Drake, on the other hand, is fresh off of a season-high 61 snaps, 88% of the team’s offensive plays. Over the past two games, Drake has out-touched Johnson 38-7.
So, while coach Kliff Kingsbury has touted the running game to be a committee of sorts, it’s looking more and more like a one-man show.
One would hope, and somewhat expect, that the Cardinals bye a week ago would give time for Johnson to continue to get healthier and also enable Arizona to muster up ways to get Johnson, who is still one of the team’s top playmakers, more involved with the offense.
With that said, Johnson has a difficult matchup on his hands in Week 13. While the Los Angeles Rams were torched by the Baltimore Ravens a week ago, we look at that as more of an outlier than a trend of things to come, as no one’s been able to slow down the Ravens this season.
Prior to that game, the Rams hadn’t allowed an opposing running back to eclipse 66 rushing yards, nor find the endzone as a rusher in five consecutive games. They’ve also held all but two running backs to 19 receiving yards or fewer over that same span.
Should You Start or Sit David Johnson in Week 13?
I’d like to believe that Johnson will be a larger part of Arizona’s offense on Sunday, but even if he is, he’s clearly become the second fiddle to Kenyan Drake in the Cardinals backfield.
To make matters worse for Johnson, Chase Edmonds is set to return in Week 13, adding yet another dynamic running back to the Cardinals’ disposal.
Until the Cardinals show us that they’re willing to feature their one-time star running back, he will remain unstartable across all scoring formats.
- *Check out our Week 13 Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Ems to further optimize your lineups
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