The David Johnson trade from Arizona to Houston wasn’t exactly a massive shock. Due to their lack of draft capital, most of us assumed Houston would be dabbling in the free agency/trade market. What we didn’t see coming, however, was DeAndre Hopkins being involved in the deal. Now that the dust has settled, what is the fantasy impact of Johnson heading to Houston? What should we expect for his fantasy outlook? Let’s dig in.
The arrival of Johnson also coincides with the departure of Carlos Hyde, as Hyde was on a one-year deal. Somehow, someway, Hyde put up the first 1,000-yard rushing season of his career in 2019 at 29 years old. Hyde is leaving behind 245 carries, which accounted for 71% of the running back rush attempts. Over the last four years, Houston’s lead back has averaged 240 carries. From 2016-2018 with Lamar Miller leading the way, he also averaged nearly 40 targets per year. In 2019, Hyde saw just 16 targets, but Duke Johnson saw 62, which was the most a running back has seen over the last four years. Speaking of Duke Johnson, I’m not entirely sure what to make of his role going forward, as Bill O’Brien has typically preferred leaning on one back. Duke could be cut this year with no dead cap hit and the Texans would save $4.1 million for 2020.
While the last images we have of David Johnson didn’t conjure up thoughts of his 2015 season, we have to remember what he did at the beginning of the season. Through the first six weeks, DJ was averaging 17.7 half-PPR points per game. In four of those, he cleared 100 yards from scrimmage and found the endzone at least once in four of the six games as well.
According to redraft ADP from Fantasy Football Calculator and best ball ADP from FantasyPros, Johnson has been coming off draft boards practically at the same spot. From FFC, he’s being drafted with an ADP of 74.2 (RB29, pick 7.02). For best ball drafts, his ADP sits at 79.5 (RB31). Johnson is sure to rise from the seventh round, but I don’t see his redraft price skyrocketing. Unless GM BOB can do something to remove the stench currently associated with the Texans, fantasy players won’t be in any rush to invest high capital in this offense. Without knowing rookie landing spots and NFL draft capital, I’d be comfortable drafting DJ somewhere around the late fourth-round.
The latest dynasty startup ADP we have is from mid-March, prior to the Johnson/Hopkins trade, courtesy of DLF. In these mocks, Johnson was being drafted with an ADP of 120 and coming off as RB40. Similar to what I said about his redraft ADP, the same holds true here as well. His trade price will certainly increase in dynasty leagues but you’ll still be able to snag him relatively late in startups, considering his age and most recent performance at the end of 2019.
If you’re holding DJ on an existing dynasty roster, the play is extremely simple. If you’re contending, he’s a hold unless you can move him for a younger asset with similar production opportunity. On teams where 2020 isn’t looking a competitive year, put him on your trade block. Even though this ADP was completed pre-trade, guys like Anthony Miller and Parris Campbell were being drafted after DJ. I would happily send Johnson for either of those guys with some juice on top.