Duke Johnson
Duke Johnson
27-Year-Old Running BackRB
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
Questionable
Injury Neck
Est. Return 9/12/2021
2021 Fantasy Outlook
It certainly wasn't the worst deal Bill O'Brien made, but trading a third-round pick in 2019 for a running back he didn't seem to want to use handily summed up his reign of error in Houston. Johnson established a reputation as a solid passing-down back in Cleveland, but in his first season with the Texans he showed flashes of being something more, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He had trouble staying healthy for the first time in his career in 2020, however, denying him a chance to really show what he could do in a lead role when David Johnson also broke down in the second half. Still only 27 years old, Duke was cut loose by the new regime in Houston this offseason, but despite his poor numbers amidst the chaos last year, he could latch on with a new club once he proves he's fully recovered from the neck injury that prematurely ended his 2020 campaign. Read Past Outlooks
RANKS
$Released by the Texans in February of 2021.
Let go by Houston
RBFree Agent
Neck
February 26, 2021
The Texans cut Johnson (neck) on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.
ANALYSIS
Houston traded a third-round pick for Johnson back in 2019, but he won't be part of the organization's plans going forward. Johnson is coming off the worst season of his career, with just 235 rushing yards and one score on 77 carries (3.1 YPC) across 11 games. He also caught 28 of 34 targets for 249 yards (8.9 yards per catch) and a touchdown. The move saves the Texans roughly $5 million in cap space and leaves Johnson -- whose yards per carry and catch last season were his lowest marks since 2015 -- free to search for a new landing spot. It's also worth noting the 27-year-old missed the final three games of the regular season due to a neck injury.
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Fantasy/Red Zone Stats
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Advanced NFL Stats
How do Duke Johnson's 2020 advanced stats compare to other running backs?
This section compares his advanced stats with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average. The longer the bar, the better it is for the player.
  • Broken Tackle %
    The number of broken tackles divided by rush attempts.
  • Positive Run %
    The percentage of run plays where he was able to gain positive yardage.
  • % Yds After Contact
    The percentage of his rushing yards that came after contact.
  • Avg Yds After Contact
    The average rushing yards he gains after contact.
  • Rushing TD %
    Rushing touchdowns divided by rushing attempts. In other words, how often is he scoring when running the ball.
  • Touches Per Game
    The number of touches (rushing attempts + receptions) he is averaging per game
  • % Snaps w/Touch
    The number of touches (rushing attempts + receptions) divided by offensive snaps played.
  • Air Yards Per Game
    The number of air yards he is averaging per game. Air yards measure how far the ball was thrown downfield for both complete and incomplete passes. Air yards are recorded as a negative value when the pass is targeted behind the line of scrimmage. All air yards data is from Sports Info Solutions and does not include throwaways as targeted passes.
  • Air Yards Per Snap
    The number of air yards he is averaging per offensive snap.
  • % Team Air Yards
    The percentage of the team's total air yards he accounts for.
  • % Team Targets
    The percentage of the team's total targets he accounts for.
  • Avg Depth of Target
    Also known as aDOT, this stat measures the average distance down field he is being targeted at.
  • Catch Rate
    The number of catches made divided by the number of times he was targeted by the quarterback.
  • Drop Rate
    The number of passes he dropped divided by the number of times he was targeted by the quarterback.
  • Avg Yds After Catch
    The number of yards he gains after the catch on his receptions.
Broken Tackle %
14.3%
 
Positive Run %
80.5%
 
% Yds After Contact
66.0%
 
Avg Yds After Contact
2.0
 
Rushing TD %
1.3%
 
Touches Per Game
9.5
 
% Snaps w/Touch
29.7%
 
Air Yards Per Game
5.0
 
Air Yards Per Snap
0.16
 
% Team Air Yards
1.2%
 
% Team Targets
6.7%
 
Avg Depth of Target
1.6 Yds
 
Catch Rate
80.0%
 
Drop Rate
2.9%
 
Avg Yds After Catch
8.2
 
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2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
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2019 NFL Game Log
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Receiving Alignment Breakdown
See where Duke Johnson lined up on the field and how he performed at each spot.
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2020 Duke Johnson Split Stats
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Measurables Review View College Player Page
How do Duke Johnson's measurables compare to other running backs?
This section compares his draft workout metrics with players at the same position. The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that metric and it would be considered average.
Height
5' 9"
 
Weight
210 lbs
 
40-Yard Dash
4.54 sec
 
Vertical Jump
33.5 in
 
Broad Jump
121 in
 
Hand Length
9.25 in
 
Arm Length
30.38 in
 
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2020
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
While Johnson set a career high for rushing yards in 2019, the breakout many anticipated once he was out of Cleveland never materialized. Heading into his sixth NFL season, however, he could be facing his best opportunity yet to prove he can handle being a lead back. At 5-10, 210, Johnson is a smaller back who runs with surprising power in addition to his top-shelf receiving skills and elusiveness in the open field. Johnson has averaged at least 4.9 yards per carry in three of the last four seasons, and his 2019 average of 2.8 yards after contact per carry put him in the company of players like Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs. But pass-catching remains his bread and butter, and Johnson's 44-410-3 line on 62 targets in his first season with Houston was actually the lowest output of his career. Carlos Hyde, last year's lead back, was not re-signed, instead replaced by David Johnson. And given the steep price coach Bill O'Brien paid to get him, the newer Johnson seems assured of a shot at the top spot in the backfield despite his mediocre recent numbers in Arizona. David has also missed 18 games in the last three seasons, while Duke has yet to miss a game in his career. If the new guy breaks down, Duke could finally get his chance to be the king.
After posting career highs as a receiver in 2017 and scoring seven total TDs (more than doubling his trips to the end zone from his first two seasons combined) Johnson was expected to see a significant role in the Browns backfield again last year, but instead, his touches declined across the board. Part of the problem was Nick Chubb's emergence after being drafted in the second round in 2018, but the rookie wasn't even a big factor in the passing game. The main issue was simply that the team's Baker Mayfield-led offense didn't settle for checkdowns as often as it had in the past under less aggressive QBs, and as a result, Johnson saw career lows in targets, catches and receiving yards. His per-target production remained steady, however, and he actually posted a career-high 5.0 YPC on his infrequent rushing attempts. On another team, he might have gotten a look in a lead role by now, as Johnson complements his receiving skills with both power and elusiveness as a runner. Johnson's request for a trade was granted in August, and initially, he was slated to work in a change-of-pace role behind Lamar Miller, an assignment that carries PPR utility. Additionally, with Miller having sustained a torn ACL late in August, Johnson figures to see added early-down touches for Houston, which results in a bump in fantasy value, but now that the team has added Carlos Hyde look for a time-share between the two to develop.
Johnson made a leap in 2017, setting career highs in targets, catches and receiving yards, while his seven touchdowns were more than double what he produced the prior two seasons combined. At 5-9, 210, Johnson is bigger than the typical third-down scatback, and his elusiveness and surprising power make him extremely difficult to bring down. He ranked fourth among running backs by generating nearly one missed tackle for every three touches, the second consecutive season in which he's been among the league leaders in that category. Despite Johnson's prowess with the ball in his hands, the limitations of his role in a bad Cleveland offense prevented him from rushing for more than 54 yards in any game last year, and that situation is not likely to change this season. The Browns signed Carlos Hyde as a free agent before nabbing Nick Chubb with the 35th overall pick in this year's draft, and those two should serve as the primary ballcarriers in an offense that at some point will be working in No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Whichever back is in the lead role, Johnson's spot on passing downs is secure, but his path to a significant jump in touches is a narrow one.
Johnson's second NFL season was nearly identical to his first in terms of raw yardage, but there were some encouraging signs for his development. His yards per carry increased dramatically and his yards per reception also rose, despite dealing with erratic quarterback play that cost him a few catches. He showed his elite elusiveness and open-field ability by finishing second in the NFL in missed tackles forced per touch and fifth in yards after contact per touch. Johnson has good size at 5-9, 210, but he gets typecast as a passing-down back in Cleveland, despite turning six of his 73 carries last season into runs of 15 yards or more, the fifth-best rate in the league. Isaiah Crowell's strong campaign in 2016 has a lot to do with that, and it puts a firm limit on Johnson's ceiling if the current backfield arrangement holds. Fortunately for Johnson, passing downs should remain common for the Browns as they continue their rebuild and play from behind more often than not, so he could see enough touches in 2017 to approach 1,000 combined yards even at his current position on the depth chart.
The Browns didn’t use Johnson much during the first three weeks, easing the rookie into the NFL wars. But he got going in Week 4 at San Diego (116 total yards, TD catch) and was one of the league’s best pass-catching backs for the rest of the year. If you grade all the PPR backs over the final three months, Johnson checks out as the No. 18 option. Most of that was made through yardage, as he only scored two touchdowns. Johnson is a bit undersized and far from a complete player — that 3.8 YPC leaves you a little cold, and Cleveland only gave him about seven rushes per week. But his pass-catching skills will be portable to many different game situations, and we’re excited to see what new head coach Hue Johnson is able to cook up. While Johnson might not have a monstrous upside, the arrow is still pointing up here. And given the ordinary receivers currently on the Browns roster, Johnson has an excellent chance to lead the team in catches.
While first-round selections Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley dominated the running back talk heading into this year's draft, the next tier of backs wasn't too bad either, and third-round pick Johnson could end up being the best of the bunch. Drawing comparisons to Gio Bernard, Johnson runs with deceptive power for his 5-9 frame, but his true calling card is incredible elusiveness and explosiveness, as he's capable of turning even the smallest seam into a big gain. He's also a polished receiver with the potential to be a three-down back once he improves his blitz pickups. With Terrence West (last year's third-round pick) handling short-yardage situations, Johnson should duck some between-the-tackles punishment and hopefully avoid the injuries that checkered his college career. While second-year player Isaiah Crowell is also a threat to Johnson's playing time, it would be an upset if the rookie didn't emerge with a large role in the Cleveland backfield.
More Fantasy News
Not playing Week 17
RBHouston Texans
Neck
January 3, 2021
Johnson (neck) is inactive for Sunday's game against the Titans.
ANALYSIS
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Questionable for Week 17
RBHouston Texans
Neck
January 1, 2021
Johnson (neck) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Titans.
ANALYSIS
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Limited in practice
RBHouston Texans
Neck
December 30, 2020
Johnson (neck) was a limited participant at practice Wednesday.
ANALYSIS
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Missing second consecutive game
RBHouston Texans
Neck
December 25, 2020
Johnson (neck) has been ruled out for Sunday's contest versus the Bengals, Aaron Reiss of The Athletic reports.
ANALYSIS
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Misses practice Wednesday
RBHouston Texans
Neck
December 23, 2020
Johnson (neck) didn't practice Wednesday.
ANALYSIS
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