Duke Johnson Jr.-Cleveland Browns
Last week was not one of Duke Johnson’s best fantasy performances. He totaled just 56 yards in the Browns overtime loss with 38 yards on his nine carries and 18 more yards on three catches. The low output isn’t that shocking, though, since he was in a tough matchup against a good Denver defense. Johnson was forced to leave the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion as well, and even though he was cleared he never returned to the game.
He’ll return this week, though, and is still in a fantasy productive situation. Last week, the Browns did get Robert Turbin back, but he seemed to take more of Isaiah Crowell’s early-down work and Johnson was still the back of choice in passing down situations. It’s a crowded backfield, but Cleveland used a high draft pick on Johnson and will keep getting him work in the coming weeks.
In PPR leagues (like DraftKings), Johnson is especially valuable since before last week he had three straight games with at least six catches. He should definitely resume his work on passing downs this week, and he should be able to be productive. He has enough upside to consider playing him this week as the Browns visit St. Louis to take on the Rams. The Rams have allowed opposing RB’s to average six catches per game against them and almost 50 yards through the air. They are the 20th ranked defense against opposing running backs in fantasy, so Johnson should find some room to operate.
On DraftKings (4,200) and FanDuel (5,600), he is ranked in with the lower halves of the time share players, but I like him as a value play with upside. Johnson is also available in over 35% of ESPN season-long leagues, and he can be a nice addition there since it looks like the Browns will try and increase his workload as the season goes on. He didn’t end up with a huge payoff last week as one of my running back sleepers, but I think he’ll bounce back this week and produce.
Next: A deep league running back sleeper