Kerryon Johnson is coming into his second season with the Detroit Lions after being taken in the second round of the 2018 draft. Johnson saw his role steadily increase throughout the season last year and was looking like he could be a very good NFL back. However, his rookie year was cut short when he suffered a knee injury week 11. This season, he looks to continue to improve and should be a great fantasy football pick if he can stay healthy.
Kerryon Johnson 2019 Fantasy Football Outlook
A Glimpse of What Could Be
Johnson was one of the top “sleeper picks” in fantasy drafts last season. The Lions had just signed LeGarrette Blount, who was expected to begin the season as the starter. Blount had just come off a Super Bowl championship for the Philadelphia Eagles (and the year before that, he won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots).
Blount came into the year already 31 years old but still running strong the year before, putting up a solid 766 rushing yards and 4.4 yards-per-carry. Most predicted Johnson would split time with Blount but eventually take over the starting job. This is exactly what happened. Johnson showcased what he could do in week three, breaking the Lions terrible streak of not having a 100-yard rusher for almost five years.
He took over the starting job after that, but still split snaps with Blount and scat-back Theo Riddick. However, he turned in excellent stat lines until he was hurt in week 11. From Johnson’s coming out party week three, up to week 11, he was the RB13 in both standard and PPR leagues. However, he hurt his knee against the Carolina Panthers and ended up going to injured reserve.
Trending Up For 2019
It has been a bit of a roller coaster for Johnson’s outlook in 2019. There was no question that Blount would not return for a second year, so initially, it looked like Johnson wouldn’t have to split time anymore, shooting his potential through the roof. But, then the Lions decided to sign surprise Los Angeles Rams star C.J. Anderson, leading to questions on how the backfield would be split.
Even if they split time as Johnson did with Blount, he can still be productive, but it definitely shot his ADP down a bit. However, he got a nice boost when the Lions decided to cut ties with Riddick. Johnson has shown that he can easily slide right into that role if given the chance, as evidenced by these stats:
Over the last 10 yrs 34 RBs finished their Rookie Season with 39 or + Tgs
Of those 34 Running Backs:
K Johnson Ranks 5th in Catch % (82.1%)
In 40% of his Rookie Season gms Johnson had 5 or more Tgs.
— DBro (@DBro_FFB) July 27, 2019
The Lions willingness to cut an effective player shows their faith in Johnson’s role moving forward. He now looks like to have a very solid floor, especially in PPR.
ADP and Outlook
Currently, Johnson is looking at an ADP of about 37 OVR or the RB18. This puts him as a pretty solid value as a fourth-round pick. His injury as a rookie is a little concerning, but he carries about the same risk as other backs being taken much higher like Leonard Fournette (23 OVR), and Dalvin Cook (21 OVR).
However, fantasy owners should note Aaron Jones is being ranked right after him at 38 OVR. Like Johnson, Jones spent much of his year in a timeshare with Jamaal Williams, but at this point, reports are coming out that he is the unquestioned lead back, unlike Johnson. Players who get a choice between the two might want to go with Jones instead.
However, if Jones gets snatched up before Johnson, both have an incredibly good shot at demolishing their ADP.
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