Written by Mikey Ostrowski
For those of you who have ever read a single piece of mine regarding fantasy football, you know that David Johnson has been my fantasy man-crush since he broke out two years ago. I mean really what’s not to like? Dude can cut on a dime, run like a workhorse, block with the best of em’, and catch balls as effortlessly as Matt Forte in his prime.
DJ obviously has not seen a football field in quite some time since he did go down with an injury in week one of 2017. However, look back at the 2016 season he had. His stats included: 1,239 rushing yards, 16 rushing touchdowns, 80 receptions (on 120 targets), 879 receiving yards, and four receiving touchdowns. Those numbers SHATTER Todd Gurley’s impressive numbers from this past season.
To be completely honest, the only player in the entire league I’d even consider taking over DJ in redraft leagues is Le’Veon Bell, and even that would take some internal battling with myself. Nonetheless, let’s analyze my favorite running back in the NFL.
Season stats: (less than) 1 game played, 11 rushes, 23 rush yards, 6 receptions, 68 receiving yards.
Johnson’s season came to an abrupt end in week one, as I have previously mentioned. Not only did this break my heart, but it broke the hearts of the thousands, or perhaps millions of fantasy footballers who selected DJ with the #1 or #2 overall pick of their drafts.
Before going down with injury, Johnson was pretty much everyone’s consensus first or second overall player in all of fantasy football in 2017. The injury would land him on the IR, and he was not cleared to return to play until recently.
Johnson’s projected 2018 stats (you heard it here first): 1,342 rushing yards, 12 rushing touchdowns, 74 receptions, 730 receiving yards, and five receiving touchdowns.
In PPR leagues, these stats would translate into just over 383 fantasy points, which is only four fewer points than Gurley had in 2017. Pretty damn good huh?
Sure it may be a little bold to say that DJ will once again eclipse the 2,000 yard mark, but if anyone can do it, it’s him. And I’ll tell you why.
The Cardinals brought in Sam Bradford, who as we all know, enjoys his short passes. He also enjoys getting seriously injured at least once a season which means Josh Rosen will inevitably get his shot at running the show. You know what new quarterbacks like to do? Keep the ball short. So in reality, it does not matter which quarterback will be starting for Arizona because their go to will be DJ fairly often. Realistically, the two quarterbacks should combine for at least 500 attempts on the season (if we’re gonna low-ball it). We figure the great Larry Fitzgerald should see at least 140 targets, the other receivers combing for around 250, and maybe the backup running backs get about 20. This will leave, at minimum, 90 targets for DJ which is an unprecedented number for most running backs.
His numbers show that he is more than capable of pulling in 67% of his targets, which should set his floor at 60 receptions. Add in his 4+ yards per carry with at least 275 carries and you’ve got AT LEAST 1,100 rushing yards, plus his receiving yards (which we’ll low-ball and only give him 10 yards per catch), which would give about an 1,800 yard from scrimmage FLOOR. It would also be safe to say that he will have at least 12 total touchdowns (based on past performances).
So let’s look at those numbers altogether: 60 receptions, 1,800 total yards, 12 touchdowns. This equates to 312 PPR points. This man’s FLOOR, if he stays healthy, is THREE HUNDRED AND TWELVE POINTS. (312 points would have been good enough the be the RB4 in the 2017 season, as DJ would’ve only finished behind Gurley, Bell, and Alvin Kamara)
Johnson is my favorite fantasy football player of all time. Barring injury, he is an extremely safe bet to finish as a top-five fantasy running back. Personally, I’m going to be selecting him No. 1 overall in redraft leagues, which means if he’s still on the board when its your turn to pick, I would HIGHLY recommend taking him.
The only thing that “worries” me at this point in time is that DJ is holding out for a contract (which I totally called a few months ago in my “Pay Day” article). However, the holdout doesn’t scare me too much, as Arizona knew that they would have to pay the guy. DJ also knows that the injury last year hurts his leverage with a new contract and realistically will be along at training camp sooner rather than later.
I understand that he’s coming off of a season-ending injury, which could be a scary thought running through your head when the clock starts winding down on your draft day. But, it was only a wrist injury. He didn’t break a leg or tear an ACL or shatter his ankle… he broke his wrist. I don’t mean to make it seem like a minor injury, but I do have to point out that his running will not be affected.
Johnson has earned the right to be your first-round pick in fantasy football, and I can assure you that if you choose to skip over him, he’s going to make some other dude the champion of your league. Choose wisely friends, DJ’s back and he’s out for blood.
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