David Johnson Fantasy Stock Drops in One Expert's Rankings After Poor Preseason Showing vs Raiders

Oakland Raiders v Arizona Cardinals
Oakland Raiders v Arizona Cardinals / Norm Hall/Getty Images

It's been a rough couple years for David Johnson's fantasy football value. After setting the league on fire with a terrific sophomore season in 2016, he suffered a season-ending injury in his first game of 2017. He then returned in 2018 to an Arizona Cardinals team that had one of the worst offenses in the league, driving his efficiency to the lowest levels we've seen.

There's been some real room for optimism that Johnson can bounce back in 2019, with the Cards hiring an offensive-minded head coach in Kliff Kingsbury and drafting quarterback Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The way the preseason is going, though, suggests it might be wise to pump the breaks a bit when it comes to selecting Johnson in the mid-to-late first round of 2019 fantasy drafts.

The Cardinals' defense gave up 17 points in the first quarter alone in Thursday night's preseason loss to the Oakland Raiders. Against Oakland's first- and second-stringers, the Cards forced only two incompletions on three scoring drives.

While we don't want to read too much into a few drives of preseason action, it's important to remember just how poor this team was in 2018. They allowed the NFL's seventh-most points per game to opponents, and their offensive line was also a big concern, giving up the seventh most sacks in the NFL.

These are bad signs for Johnson's prospects as a rusher. Teams (especially those coached by Kingsbury) are not going to run a lot if they're trying to play catch-up to compensate for a bad defense, and a poor offensive line is likely going to be tough to run behind.

The saving grace for Johnson, though, is that he is an outstanding receiver.

Johnson accounted for 16 percent of the Cardinals' targets in 2018 after accounting for 19 percent (second among RBs) in 2016, so a similar share can likely be expected in 2019. Even if Johnson's market share of the Cards' targets doesn't climb with Murray throwing the ball, there should be a much larger total number of targets to draw from, meaning a similar percentage should translate to a big uptick in volume for Johnson.

It can be risky to draft a running back on a bad team at the top of fantasy football drafts, but with Johnson's receiving ability and the type of offense we're likely to see the Cardinals use, he should be insulated against much of that risk. So even if one fantasy expert is moving Johnson down his rankings, he's likely still worth of a first-round pick.

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Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. 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.