Duke Johnson's Fantasy Value Could Skyrocket with Texans - Roto Street Journal
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Duke Johnson’s Fantasy Value Could Skyrocket with Texans

Duke Johnson has finally been granted his sweet trade release! The Texans sent the Browns a conditional fourth-round pick to acquire Johnson and his incredible pass-catching skills. Unfortunately, this offense features plenty of mouths to feed, and HC Bill O’Brien hasn’t historically targeted his RBs often.

But he’s also lacked a pass-catcher like Duke out of the backfield. Plus, with only bleh Lamar Miller ahead of him, Johnson has a sneaky shot to overtake this backfield. He becomes a major riser on my latest Big Board. Meanwhile, Miller’s “three-down” upside has evaporated in less than a week, and he no longer presents much intrigue at his price.

Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry also could see slight usage bumps in Duke’s absence.

Johnson’s been a receiving dynamo since entering the league. Per PFF, Johnson ranks:

  • Fifth in career receiving grade (90.9) among RBs with at least 100 targets since 2015
  • Fourth in percentage of first down or TD receptions (44%)
  • Second in forced missed tackles per reception (.34)
  • Seventh in yards per route run (1.73)

He’s also just one misused 2018 away from 74 receptions on 93 targets, which facilitated over 200 PPR FPs and an RB11 finish (RB15 in half).

The question then becomes: what will Johnson’s usage look like in Houston?

If O’Brien’s past is any indication, the outlook is bleaker than we’d hope. Since taking over in 2014, these are the Texans ranks in RB targets:

  • 2018: 32nd (68 total RB targets, 35 to the top RB)
  • 2017: 28th (86 total, 35 top)
  • 2016: 28th (83 total, 39 top)
  • 2015: 11th (114 total, 31 top)
  • 2014: 26th (90 total, 59 top)

In short – Duke’s 93 targets in 2017 have topped the entire Texans backfield in four of the last five years.

Still, Arian Foster might be the only pass-catching RB O’Brien’s had that’s on par with Johnson. He averaged 7 targets and 5.5 receptions in 2015 before getting hurt. There’s hope.

Especially when you consider the other glaring fact: Lamar Miller sucks.

Though on the smaller side (5’9″, 207 lbs), Duke proved capable of heavy college workloads. Amidst a list of insanely talent UMiami RBs (Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Willlis McGahee, Frank Gore), Johnson ranks first in career rushing yardage (3519), shouldering over 20 touches per game his senior year.

He’s an explosive, sudden runner who thrives in space and stretches, and could shoulder a hefty load if it’s provided. If Miller continues his usual inefficiency, Duke emerging as the lead in every-facet is a real possibility. Considering this offense should be Top-10 overall with Top-5 upside, Duke would have Top-20 RB upside with 200+ touches. He shoots up to the High-Upside Bench RBs tier, clocking in at 98 overall and RB38.

Meanwhile, Miller takes a serious hit here. After rising up to 58 overall following Foreman’s release, Miller slides immediately down to 85-90 range – not a whole lot higher than his new backfield mate.

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