David Johnson, the former number 1 RB in fantasy? David Johnson, the dual threat dynamo? David Johnson, the man who wants 1000/1000? David Johnson, the man you shouldn’t take in the top 3 of redraft leagues? Yeah, that David Yan-Son (Think an over-exaggerated Boston accent) I’m a believer that in those first 3 picks there are better options and here’s why.
1. The Team
The Cards have experienced a lot of change this off season. A new coach with schemes, 2 new QBs to drive the ship, a decrease in talent on the defensive side (RIP Honey Badger) and no real improvements to the offensive line (I’m not sold on Andre Smith and Justin Pugh is a “Meh” addition)
The QB room is interesting with the always-injured Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen. It’s almost a guarantee that Bradford will go down with an injury in which case, is Rosen as ready as everyone thinks he is? There was a reason he slid to #10, was it his attitude? Maybe. But if you’re a QB needy team in the top 9 picks, if he’s as good as you think, why didn’t you take him? I don’t know, maybe I’m a skeptic but their QB’s don’t sell me on giving him a favorable game script.
But wait, isn’t he a great receiving back and would benefit from that? Yes, he is uber dynamic. BUT, teams know this. They know what to expect out of his usage at this point. If you think any defense won’t have a spy on him the entire game you’re out of your mind. There’s no real threats outside of the ageless Larry Fitz but he could see the cliff at any point and when does, their team becomes one-dimensional through DJ.
2. The Injury
As mentioned in a previous article by my colleagues, he was probably kept out of the entire season because Arizona had no playoffs hopes. This definitely has some substance to it but if you’re a competitor, which DJ is supposed to be, wouldn’t you want to get some action before the season ends regardless? I know, sometimes a fracture can be worse than a break and for a RB who has to handle the ball and take hits, a fractured wrist is detrimental as we saw.
But, players have played with wrist injuries. Brian Cushing played part of 2014 with a broken wrist! At some point, you have to tough it out. If the injury happened mid way through the season, fine, you get a pass. But no, it happened almost on the first drive of the season. You’re telling me if you’re an athletic freak like he is, your body doesn’t heal that injury in 12 weeks or less and allow you to play? I don’t know man, something’s telling me he didn’t want to play. Where’s the fire?
3. The Competition
The Cardinals are in an interesting position within their division, they certainly won’t be first but they could very well be last.
The Rams are the clear dominatrix of this division so that’s 2 games where DJ has to see what will probably be the best defense in the league and that’s 2 games where his team will certainly struggle on the offensive side of the ball. I can’t imagine it’s going to be easy for Arizona to run the ball against Aaron Donald, reigning defensive MVP and his new smash brother in Suh. I also imagine that they’ll be able to use the reigning offensive MVP in Todd Gurley to keep the ball away from DJ and Co. So reduce DJ’s value to 14 games, not 16.
Next, SanFran, the hot team, the darkhorse, all thanks to Jimmy G. They have a new swagger about them after winning the last 5 games of their season, beating the top defense in Sacksonville, and having a fairly interesting off season. I think this team will be better than last years on both sides of the ball. We’re not here to talk about them as a whole but why DJ will be effected: Buckner and Solomon (Sounds like a law firm) SanFran has premium young talent on their defensive line and made upgrades to the backend. I think they have a real chance to give Arizona’s offensive line some hell which spells some issues for our RB. I know everyone thinks that SanFran’s defense was a weakness and it was, but it got better and we’ll see that. I could see Johnson splitting this series with one game producing stellar RB1/Elite numbers and the other producing an RB2/3 performance.
Finally, Seattle. They’re in a rebuild without a doubt and these could be games where Johnson gets a breakout. Their defense is looking like it’s in shambles and has holes all over the roster and it certainly does. But, they still have Russell Danger Wilson. I think his ability to keep Seattle in games against a lesser Cardinal’s defense will force a shootout where DJ could see great usage in the passing game or he could not. Remember, teams will plan for him and Pete Carroll isn’t a slouch when it comes to coaching, sans not running the ball with Marshawn to close out the superbowl (I’m a patriots fan, so thank you!) Either way, that team will be ready for David Johnson and that could hinder his play.
Will DJ be a top RB? Definitely. But, I think there will be better options ahead of him and I’d pause to think about taking him if I had the third pick. Its hard to truly know the future for a player and his past indicates he can do it even if it’s only 1.5 years worth of footage. But exactly that, only 1.5 years and the other time spent injured and not playing the game. It’s worrisome.