The Houston Texans have been shaking up their backfield. Earlier this week, they released former third-round pick D’Onta Foreman. Clearly, depth behind starting running back Lamar Miller became an area of concern. Texans coach (and interim GM) Bill O’Brian addressed the issue by acquiring Cleveland Brown’s pass catching back Duke Johnson Jr.
Browns traded Duke Johnson to Texans for a 2020 draft pick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 8, 2019
The trade doesn’t move the needle much for either team on the field. Cleveland is still the preseason darling and the Texans are still an squad of overrated frauds. However, the move does have some interesting implications for fantasy football.
Cleveland running back Nick Chubb instantly becomes one of the most interesting players in fantasy football. Without Johnson Jr, the dynamic Chubb is in line to be a three-down bell-cow in a dynamic offense for the first 8 games of the season. I would start Chubb over known RB1s such as Le’Veon Bell, Joe Mixon, and David Johnson for the first half of the season. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, Kareem Hunt enters the mix in week 9. Hunt and Chubb have similar skill sets as talented runners with dangerous potential out of the backfield. While I expect Chubb to out touch Hunt, the split should be close. Chubb will likely fall to a RB2 to end the year.
The split is going to frustrate fantasy owners, but I still expect Chubb to outperform his current average draft position (ADP) of RB13. Both James Conner (RB9) and Leonard Fournette (RB12) are being drafted above Chubb. Conner regressed as the season went on last year and Fournette is a massively inefficient runner. Even when Hunt carves out a timeshare, Chubb will outperform them. Take him comfortable in the third round.
The situation in Houston is a little more clear cut. Lamar Miller’s takes a hit, but not by much. Miller isn’t much of a pass catcher, so he was never going to be in Johnson Jr’s third-down role. He is currently being drafted as RB29 which is a mid-level flex player with low-end RB2 potential in non-PPR leagues.
Duke Johnson Jr steps into the third-down role for Houston, but don’t expect much from him. He is talented for sure, but DeShaun Watson has thrown 4 CAREER touchdown passes to running backs including just one last year. Watson just does not target the running back enough to have Duke Johnson Jr on your roster this year.