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David Johnson Fantasy Football Outlook Could Be Improved in 2019 by Elite Receiving Numbers

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 23:  Running back David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes the football against the Los Angeles Rams during the NFL game at State Farm Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 31-9. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

David Johnson is one of the most uniquely versatile and talented running backs in the NFL. Unfortunately, Johnson was seemingly held back by last year's bland, unimaginative Arizona Cardinals offense that ranked dead last in both points per game and yards per game.

Despite this, he still graded out quite well as a receiver. In fact, from 2016-18, Johnson is actually the No. 1 graded RB on receiver routes in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.

This should speak to just how effective Johnson is as a pass-catcher, as he was criminally underused in 2018. He was only targeted 71 times last season, which is less than middling RBs like Jalen Richard (81) and T.J. Yeldon (78).

For reference, Johnson was targeted 120 times in 2016, and he posted a wildly productive year, racking up 879 yards receiving and four TDs on 80 receptions.

The early returns on Johnson's usage in the Cardinals' passing game look positive, as he caught his lone target, gaining 14 yards, in the only drive he played in Arizona's first 2019 preseason game.

If Johnson is used more like he was in 2016, the sky is the limit. He has legitimate RB1 upside, yet he's being drafted as RB5. Johnson's shaky injury history and puzzling usage from 2017 might make him a riskier selection, but he could be a league-winning player if he pans out.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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