Would You Rather: Carlos Hyde or Duke Johnson in the Houston Backfield?

Dan Israeli
Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints
Houston Texans v New Orleans Saints / Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Houston Texans gave us the first glimpse of their new backfield tandem, Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde, in the team's thrilling 30-28 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. After one game, Johnson may be the lead back for now, based on the playing time split between the two RBs.

Johnson out-snapped Hyde 41-23, and also received 13 touches to Hyde's 11. While the workload split was fairly even, Johnson's advantage in playing time could suggest he is the team's number one option at running back. The snap totals may also imply that Johnson was simply more up to speed with the offense than the more recently-acquired Hyde.

But both backs were highly efficient on the ground, as Hyde turned his 10 carries into 83 yards (8.3 yards per carry) while Johnson rushed nine times for 57 yards (6.3 yards per carry). Not surprisingly, Johnson was more involved in the passing game (four catches for 33 yards) than Hyde (one catch for two yards).

While Johnson led the backfield in snaps, it's important to note that Hyde got the nominal start and first carry of the game. There is very little to glean as far red zone touches, as Johnson had one carry and two receptions inside the 20 to Hyde's one carry. Neither back touched the ball inside the 10 yard line.

While it may be too early to tell which back will receive more work going forward, and specifically those vital red zone looks, one thing is clear – this backfield is more of a committee than Johnson's fantasy owners probably hoped for.

Currently, Johnson is owned in 93 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Football leagues, while Hyde is owned in just 32 percent. He is not the most exciting pickup, but Hyde should definitely see his ownership surpass the 50 percent mark after waivers clear.

Johnson is a solid RB2 in PPR leagues, but owners will need to hope his passing game work is steady, as Watson does not have a history of targeting the RB position. Meanwhile, Hyde can also gain low-end RB2 value in standard leagues if he can more firmly establish an early down, goal-line role. Either way, neither back has RB1 upside unless an injury was to befall their counterpart.

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