By Anthony Knox
Follow me on Twitter @ff_knox
Honestly, David Johnson wasn’t really on my radar in 2015. He was the 3rd string running back for the Arizona Cardinals and Cardinals coach Bruce Arians had stated on numerous occasions that David Johnson wasn’t going to get much work. Ahead of him were two veteran players, and Arians prefers to have veterans play to rookies. Arians planned to have Andre Ellington and Chris Johnson handle the RB duties for the team. Ellington was hurt at the beginning of the season, but Chris Johnson was able to handle the workload.
Ellington had 60 total touches (15 receptions) for 437 total yards and 3 touchdowns. Chris Johnson had 202 total touches (6 receptions) for 872 total yards and 3 touchdowns. For all you math majors, when you combine their two totals, you get 262 total touches, 1,309 total yards and 6 touchdowns.
Their numbers were a product of weeks 1-12 (their bye week was week 9). If you’re looking at the numbers for one running back, that’s pretty good.
Now let’s talk about David Johnson. David Johnson was the only Cardinals running back to play in all 16 regular season games and it was clear that when Arians had a veteran running back available during the first 12 games, David Johnson didn’t get a lot of work. Once both veterans were hampered with injuries, David Johnson’s numbers exploded! Below will show you the difference:
Weeks 1-12, Weeks 13-17, Total
Rushing Attempts 35, 90, 125
Rushing Yards 139, 442, 581
Rushing TDs 4, 4, 8
Receptions 19, 17, 36
Receiving Yards 241, 216, 457
Receiving TDs 3, 1, 4
For the season, David Johnson finished with 161 total touches, 1,038 total yards and 12 touchdowns. By himself, he was only 271 yards behind Ellington and Chris Johnson, and he scored twice as many touchdowns as they did combined.
Bruce Arians has gone on record to say that David Johnson is the starting running back for the Arizona Cardinals in 2016 because he “earned it.” Looking at the numbers when he needed to step up for the Cardinals, I’d say he very much earned it!
In the last five games of the season, David Johnson averaged 21.4 touches per game. David Johnson will be one of those running backs that you can always assume will get at least 20 touches in a game, which is a rarity for running backs now.
Based on these statistics, Johnson should be one of the elite running backs this season, and should be taken at some point in the 1st round. If you’re the lucky soul who gets him in the 2nd round, I will congratulate you on your 2016 Fantasy Football Championship!