2016 Fantasy Football — Breakout Candidate: Duke Johnson
My official 2016 Breakout Player of the Year is Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson. He is as dynamic and explosive as any back in the league. Not only is he an explosive home run hitter on the ground, Johnson is a natural pass-catcher and hard-nosed blocker. He’s been so good in the passing game this offseason that the Browns are actually lining him out wide in certain sets. His PPR value is immense after he caught 61 passes last year.
Johnson was an absolute beast at The U. In his final year at Miami he rushed for 1,652 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. During his three season tenure as a heavily utilized RB, his lowest yards per carry total was 6.3. Johnson is a rare athlete that can change an entire offense. He leaves Miami as the school’s all-time leading rusher, beating out guys like Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Edgerrin James and Frank Gore. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he’s a better version of Giovani Bernard.
Speaking of Bernard, Johnson will fill his role in new head coach Hue Jackson’s offense now that Jackson has gone from the Cincinnati Bengals to Cleveland. While succeeding in Cleveland is always a struggle, from a talent standpoint Johnson has Jamaal Charles upside or better.
Jackson has done nothing but praise Johnson since joining the staff. He says Johnson has the “suddenness and quickness and he can go catch the ball with anybody.” This is just some of the boatload of praise he’s heaped upon the young back.
The Browns run game coordinator went as far to call Johnson “the ultimate weapon” saying, “I thought Duke has a lot of those qualities that a lot of great running backs have, in terms of being a receiver. He’s very comfortable in space, he’s got natural ability to catch the football, and he knows how to run routes.”
I’m predicting Johnson will emerge as a potential Fantasy RB1 this season in PPR leagues. I view him as the lone star of the Browns offense. I could easily see him eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark and finishing with approximately 1,000 to 1,100 rushing yards. Couple that with about 76 receptions for an additional 800 yards and eight touchdowns and you have a Fantasy monster on your hands.
Based on his current ADP, Johnson is being drafted a low-end RB2, high-end RB3. I have no issue grabbing him inside the top 10. There is just too much upside there to overlook. Do not let him pass you by and remember when he’s winning you a championship that he was The Fantasy Fix Breakout Player of the Year.