David Johnson 2020 Fantasy Outlook
Oh, how we all long for 2016. A lot has changed as COVID-19 continues to impact our lives in ways we never could have imagined, and we are reminded of better times when we were not all quarantined at home. As Andy Bernard from the Office once said, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in ‘the good old days’ before you’ve actually left them”. David Johnson is someone who dreams of one day returning to glory. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, but the thought of David Johnson once again being the DJ of yesteryear and delivering championships to fantasy owners far and wide is something well worth pondering.
Most years in redraft leagues, there is often at least some debate on who the first overall pick should be. In the 2017 draft, there was no debate. David Johnson was the consensus number 1 pick across the board. His dominance in 2016 produced numbers of an RB1 and an WR1 wrapped up in one player. He was a fantasy football cheat code.
Unfortunately in game 1 of the 2017 season, his reign of dominance ended abruptly as he went down with injury. Since then we have seen sporadic glimpses of the old DJ, but for the most part he has looked like a mere mortal. This year could be different. This year could be the year that the 28-year-old back gets back to his old self and dominates once again. The change in scenery from Arizona to Houston could be just what he needs to get him back on track.
As one of the bottom ranked units in the league, the Cardinals’ offensive line did not do DJ any favors. Of course, the Texans O-line will not be just astronomically better but it’s noticeably better. No longer will DJ have to fear for his life every time he touches the ball. As a guy who has battled with injuries since 2017, keeping DJ healthy will play a huge role in boosting his production.
In fact, in 5 out of the first 6 games of the 2019 season, DJ looked like his old self. Poor protection led to injuries which hampered hopes for a big year. The benefits of his team change do not stop at the O-Line. The upgrade at quarterback will be helpful as Watson will take some pressure off of the run game. The more potent offense of the Texans could allow DJ to eat up yardage late in games.
In addition to these upgrades, DJ could see a huge increase in volume as Deandre Hopkins’ absence left a hole in the target share. Hopkins was targeted 150 times last year, a whopping 45% of the 332 total targets in Houston. Running backs received a total of 79 of these targets. Hopkins’s targets have to go somewhere, and although it may not be logical to project 120 targets like his 2016 campaign, it seems safe to assume higher totals than what DJ has seen since then. Rushing attempts will likely increase for him as well.
Last year in Arizona, he carried the ball just 94 times due to injuries and Kenyan Drake. At the same time, Bill O’Brien handed the ball off to Carlos Hyde 245 times. Bill is a coach that loves to run the ball, and he just traded away his number 1 receiver. Bill still thinks DJ can still produce in 2020 and is planning to give him all the work he can handle.
David Johnson has obviously seen better years, but he could still have some gas left in the tank. With many backs through the years still making comebacks after being written off as too old or too injury prone, it would not be impossible to see DJ become a fantasy star again. First and foremost, staying healthy should be at the top of David Johnson’s to-do list. If he can produce with his new situation on the Texans, he can return to his glory days. Though he won’t be an early pick in redraft leagues, he’s a guy to keep an eye on in the mid-rounds.