Player Stock Ticker
The Wolf's Big Board:     Tuesday, August 22, 2017       Tier One - The Big Three ($65 - $75)   1 ) David Johnson (ARI) RB1   2 ) Le'Veon Bell (PIT) RB2   Tier Two - High-end WR1 and RB1s ($50-$65)   3 ) Antonio Brown (PIT) WR1   4 ) Julio Jones (ATL) WR2   5 ) Mike Evans (TB) WR3   6 ) Odell Beckham JR. (NYG) WR4   7 ) LeSean McCoy (BUF) RB3   8 ) AJ Green (CIN) WR5   9 ) Jordy Nelson (GB) WR6   10 ) Melvin Gordon (LAC) RB5   11 ) Jay Ajayi (MIA) RB6   12 ) DeMarco Murray (TEN) RB7   13 ) Michael Thomas (NO) WR7   14 ) Devonta Freeman (ATL) RB8   15 ) Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) RB9   Tier 3 - Remaining WR1s, Potential RB1s, and Gronk ($38 - $45)   16 ) Dez Bryant (DAL) WR8   17 ) Rob Gronkowski (NE) TE1   18 ) Todd Gurley (LAR) RB10   19 ) DeAndre Hopkins (HOU) WR9   20 ) Amari Cooper (OAK) WR10   21 ) Brandin Cooks (NE) WR11   22 ) Isaiah Crowell (CLE) RB11   23 ) TY Hilton (IND) WR12   24 ) Demaryius Thomas (DEN) WR13   25 ) Doug Baldwin (SEA) WR14   Tier 4 - High-End RB2 and WRs (with No.1 upside), Elite TEs ($25 - $35)   26 ) Jordan Howard (CHI) RB11   27 ) Marshawn Lynch (OAK) RB12   28 ) Tyreek Hill (KC) WR15   29 ) Keenan Allen (LAC) WR16   30 ) Martavis Bryant (PIT) WR17   31 ) Davante Adams (GB) WR18   32 ) Terrelle Pryor (WAS) WR19   33 ) Ty Montgomery (GB) RB13   34 ) Christian McCaffrey (CAR) RB14   35 ) Dalvin Cook (MIN) RB15   36 ) Joe Mixon (CIN) RB16   37 ) Leonard Fournette (JAX) RB17   38 ) Lamar Miller (HOU) RB18   39 ) Travis Kelce (KC) TE2   40 ) Michael Crabtree (OAK) WR20   41 ) Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) WR21   42 ) Carlos Hyde (SF) RB19   Tier 5 - Remaining #2 RB & WR options, elite QBs, High-End TE1s ($15 - $25)   43 ) Tom Brady (NE) QB1   44 ) Aaron Rodgers (GB) QB2   45 ) Bilal Powell (NYJ) RB20   46 ) Mark Ingram (NO) RB21   47 ) Eric Decker (TEN) WR22   48 ) Jordan Reed (WAS) TE3   49 ) Golden Tate (DET) WR23   50 ) Alshon Jeffery (PHI) WR24   51 ) Allen Robinson (JAX) WR25   52 ) Greg Olsen (CAR) TE4   53 ) DeSean Jackson (TB) WR26   54 ) Doug Martin (TB) RB22   55 ) Adrian Peterson (NO) RB23   56 ) Spencer Ware (KC) RB24   57 ) Willie Snead (NO) WR27   58 ) Danny Woodhead (BAL) RB25   59 ) Jamison Crowder (WAS) WR28   60 ) Sammy Watkins (LAC) WR29   61 ) Tevin Coleman (ATL) RB26   62 ) Mike Gillislee (NE) RB27   63 ) Jimmy Graham (SEA) TE5   64 ) Tyler Eifert (CIN) TE6   Tier 6 - Flex RBs, Upside WR3s, Quality TE1s and Elite QB ($10 - $15   65 ) Kelvin Banjamin (CAR) WR30   66 ) Julian Edelman (NE) WR31   67 ) Rob Kelley (WAS) RB28   68 ) Theo Riddick (DET) RB29   69 ) Stefon Diggs (MIN) WR32   70 ) Brandon Marshall (NYG) WR33   71 ) Jarvis Landry (MIA) WR34   72 ) DeVante Parker(MIA) WR35   73 ) LeGarrette Blount (PHI) RB30   74 ) Ameer Abdullah (DET) RB31   75 ) CJ Anderson (DEN) RB32   76 ) Zach Ertz (PHI) TE7   77 ) Hunter Henry (LAC) TE8   78 ) Martellus Bennett (GB) TE9   79 ) Jeremy Maclin (BAL) WR36   80 ) Cameron Meredith (CHI) WR37   81 ) Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) WR38   82 ) Pierre Garcon (SF) WR39   83 ) Drew Brees (NO) QB3   84 ) Matt Ryan (ATL) QB4   85 ) Delanie Walker (TEN) TE10   Tier 7 -Elite Bench Plays, Last Startable WRs and RBs, Quality QB1s   86 ) Derrick Henry (TEN) RB33   87 ) CJ Prosise (SEA) RB34   88 ) Donte Moncrief (IND) WR40   89 ) Terrance West (BAL) RB35   90 ) Thomas Rawls (SEA) RB36   91 ) James White (NE) RB37   92 ) Tyrell Williams (LAC) WR41   93 ) Randall Cobb (GB) WR42   94 ) Corey Davis (TEN) WR43   95 ) Frank Gore (IND) RB38   96 ) Jonathan Stewart (CR) RB39   97 ) Paul Perkins (NYG) RB40   98 ) Derek Carr (OAK) QB5   99 ) Jameis Winston (TB) QB6   100 ) Marcus Mariota (TEN) QB7   101 ) Kirk Cousins (WAS) QB8   102 ) Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) QB9   103 ) Philip Rivers (LAC) QB10   104 ) Cam Newton (CAR) QB11   105 ) Dak Prescott (DAL) QB12   106 ) Russell Wilson (SEA) QB13   107 ) Duke Johnson (CLE) RB41   108 ) Kareem Hunt (KC) RB42   109 ) Andrew Luck (IND) QB14   110 ) Tyrod Taylor (BUF) QB15   111 ) Jack Doyle (IND) TE10   112 ) Kyle Rudolph (MIN) TE11   Tier 7 - High End "Penny Stock" Bench Assets   113 ) Jamaal Williams (GB) RB43   114 ) Eddie Lacy (SEA) RB44   115 ) Joe Williams (SF) RB45   116 ) Robby Anderson (NYJ) WR44   117 ) Zay Jones (BUF) WR45   118 ) John Brown (ARI) WR46   119 ) Jamaal Charles (DEN) RB46   120 ) Eric Ebron (DET) TE13   121 ) D'Onta Foreman (HOU) RB47   122 ) Taylor Gabriel (ATL) WR47   123 ) Jacquizz Rodgers (TB) RB48   124 ) Darren Sproles (PHI) RB49   125 ) Marvin Jones (DET) WR48   126 ) Ted Ginn Jr (NO) WR49   127 ) Mike Wallace (BAL) WR50   128 ) Kenny Golladay (DET) WR51   129 ) Jonathan Williams (BUF) RB50   130 ) Alvin Kamara (NO) RB51   131 ) Samaje Perine (WAS) RB52   Tier 8 - Remaining "Penny Stocks" to consider   132 ) Josh Docston (WAS) WR52   133 ) Corey Coleman (CLE) WR53   134 ) Adam Thielen (MIN) WR54   135 ) Marlon Mack (IND) RB53   136 ) Julius Thomas (MIA) TE14   137 ) Austin Hooper (ATL) TE15   138 ) Jared Cook (OAK) TE16   139 ) OJ Howard (TB) TE17   140 ) Eli Manning (NYG) QB16   141 ) Andy Dalton (CIN) QB17   142 ) Matthew Stafford (DET) QB18   143 ) Carson Palmer (ARI) QB19   144 ) Matt Forte (NYJ) RB54   145 ) Branden Oliver (LAC) RB55   146 ) Kenny Britt (CLE) WR57   147 ) Cordarelle Patterson (OAK) WR58   148 ) Rex Burkhead (NE) RB56   149 ) Tarik Cohen (CHI) RB57   150 ) Nelson Agholor (PHI) WR59  

David Johnson’s Claim to the #2 Overall PPR Pick

Antonio Brown is, by far, the best fantasy football investment you can make in 2016. This is true regardless of format, but especially undeniable in PPR. He offers week-winning ceilings, topping 185 yards an absurd 4 times last year, while still remaining the safest bet in all of fantasy with a double digit weekly floor. He is in a tier of his own and should remain unchallenged here.

When we reach #2 overall, however, several candidates present legitimate arguments. Talented target-monsters like Odell, DeAndre, and Julio offer ridiculous ceilings and fairly high floors. Rob Gronkowski remains in a class of his own among tight ends. When healthy, few offer the versatility of Le’veon, while Gurley looks ready to steal the top-rusher crown from AP sooner instead of later.

Rarely, if ever, will you see David Johnson’s name listed among those worthy contenders. Yet, with a look at Johnson’s “Player Stock Profile,” his argument for being the second player off draft boards in PPR formats appears stronger than any other.  I thought this before listening to Cardinals GM Steve Keim recent radio interview, which was loaded with the type of nuggets that make a fantasy owner’s pants get stiffer. Now I’m more convinced than ever. Let’s take a look at his profile and some of those comments, shall we?

Talent

David Johnson’s size and athleticism have never been in question. This was especially true following a combine where he measured 6’1” and 224 yet still managed an explosive 4.5 second 40 yard dash and 6.82 second 3-cone drill, matching the smooth, long speed he put on tape at Northern Iowa. His toughness, willingness to go up the gut, and tackle-breaking ability, however, were under the microscope. Johnson laid rest to those skeptics as soon as afforded the chance, gaining chunk yardage through the middle and on stretches to the outside. Moreover, he finished his runs with authority, especially at the goal line, proving to be a tough 1st and 2nd down grinder.

GM Keim did concede “running behind his pads consistently, breaking tackles” was his one area of concern when drafting Johnson, but followed up by saying “he did a fantastic job this year” improving. This run against the Eagles may have been the NFL’s best rushing highlight of the season, and erased these doubts immediately. 

What truly separates Johnson from nearly all other runners, though, is his receiving ability and consequent profile as a true every-down back. He displayed excellent feet and a diverse route tree in the pass game, and matched this with soft hands. Johnson was praised all summer in this department, being compared to Matt Forte as a receiving threat by his RB coach and receiving rave reviews from Palmer.

When the pads came on, Johnson didn’t disappoint, running a full route tree and providing a consistently reliable threat out of the backfield. In this committee-plagued era, a true every-down Clydesdale has become near extinct; David Johnson passed the eyeball test in all facets of the game with flying colors. Perhaps only Le’veon Bell can match Johnson’s sheer versatility, with David having a little extra juice but perhaps not quite the vision and patience of Bell yet.

If you don’t trust my opinion, then let the guy running the organization sway you, as Keim said: “Looking at some of the things David did on tape just recently, from a skill set standpoint it’s scary. A 6 foot 1, 226 pound guy who can bend and make lateral cuts like he does, and then have the ball skills and matchup possibilities out of the backfield, he’s truly a three down back. He’s got the size and strength to punish in the run game, the skill and athleticism in the passing game which is scary, to me for a guy only scratching the surface it’s scary to think what he could do.”

Movement downstairs achieved.

Talent Score = 10

 

Opportunity / Usage

Johnson exploded onto the scene in Week 13 following injuries to CJ2K and Ellington. Up until then he was being groomed for a criminal length of time, but from then on he was used as a true workhorse. He amassed a massive 22, 19, and 29 carries in his first 3 starts, before game flow and situation (aka blowouts) afforded him only 9 carries against Green Bay and 11 against Seattle. Johnson also had back-to-back 15 carry performances in the playoffs for a total of 120 totes in only 7 games, an average of 17 per contest for a 272 carry pace over a full season. Given the aforementioned blow-out situations, these numbers may actually be conservative, and strongly suggest Arians isn’t scared to ride his talented rusher. Unlike most early-down backs, Johnson also remained active in the passing game, totalling 32 catches in his 7 games as a feature back, which places him at 73 catches on a full slate.

You simply can’t find this type of rushing and receiving workload in other backfields in this age of committees. Cardinals insider Mike Jurecki has already dubbed him “the bell cow,” while Keim also chimed in, “the way he catches the ball out of the backfield, the weapon he is as a receiver, I think he could be one of the better all around backs in the NFL in terms of being a complete player. A guy who’s not subbed for in 3rd down situations, a guy who can play in every snap and a guy who can be such a weapon in every phase of the game.”

You’re welcome for the pants tent.

Opportunity / Usage Score = 10

 

Offensive Scheme:

Offensive mastermind Bruce Arians has long been a supporter of an every-down workhorse. The overrode an undersized Andre Ellington and squeezed out as much unpredictable value from the corpse of CJ2K as humanly possible. As already mentioned, David Johnson was on a 345 touch pace in his 7 games.

The reasoning is clear — Arians prefers minimal backfield rotations so he can relentlessly attack defenses with an aggressive pace. He keeps one foot constantly on the gas without the need to substitute, resulting in massive weekly workloads for his RB1s. While such a high volume proved too much for a fragile Ellington and a rotting CJ2K, Arians’ new workhorse possesses both the size and freshness to withstand a season-long buffet of carries and receptions. Plus, the constant big play threat of Arians’ vertical attack keeps defenses on their heels and boxes lighter, giving Johnson more room to roam. Arians’ scheme is a running back’s dream, and he hasn’t had a back with the skillset and ability of Johnson to fully exploit it yet. I’ll let Ricky Bobby take this one:

Ricky Bobby

Offensive Scheme Score = 10

Even more encouragingly, despite such a guaranteed high usage rate, Johnson cannot be completely eliminated by game planners due to his team’s…

Surrounding Talent:  

This offense is completely stacked at all the skill positions. The Cardinals have the ability to attack every depth of the field from every single angle with the dangerous trio of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown, plus a quarterback unafraid to take his shots downfield in Palmer. Whether Fitz is stretching the seam from the slot, or Brown and Floyd are winning one-on-ones deep down the sidelines, the defense has to stay on its heels.

This keeps boxes light and running lanes more open. Plus, this offensive line has gone from laughingstock to road grinders, ranking as 2016’s fourth best run blocking unit in the league according to Pro Football Focus (many thanks going to the absolutely massive and terrifying Mike Iupati). Combine the many red zone opportunities to be polished off due to this offense’s explosiveness with Johnson’s power and nose for the end zone, and this supporting cast is one that can help elevate Johnson to season-winning stardom. Please take a second and clean up after yourself.

Surrounding Talent Score = 10

Risk Level:  

I feel like Risk Level is that annoying judge who, after a clearly perfect performances and being preceded by four other 10s, goes last and holds up a 9 and ruins it for everyone. But that’s what he’s here to do, bring us all back to reality.

The good news is Johnson received some heavy workloads in college and held up well. The flip side of this, of course, is he’s a running back with some slight tread on his tires. As a result, he simply has to be marked down due to the nature of the position; with the massive workload comes a greater number of hits. Yet, given Arians’ preference for an every-down back, there’s slight comfort knowing Johnson’s handcuff would likely be a high-volume asset should he go down.

Additionally, he passes the consistency test with flying colors, scoring lower than 17 PPR points only once in his 7 game stretch as starter, including playoffs.

Finally, Johnson is only a sophomore. While nothing suggests he’ll have a short leash or will experience growing pains, we haven’t yet seen how he trains in the offseason or if defensive coordinators can find a better way to corral him. Until those question marks are answered, just a tiny bit of skepticism needs to be added to Johnson’s portfolio. Still, as the cards currently lay, injury seems to be the only obstacle that could prevent Johnson from a monster fantasy campaign.

roto street journal judges

Risk Level Score = 8.5

David Johnson’s Overall Stock Score = 48.5. Category = Elite

Concluding Thoughts

We find ourselves with a rare aligning of the stars: an explosive every-down skillset enters a perfectly-fitting, high-volume scheme that demands a 3-down workhorse. With oodles of surrounding talent, scoring chances should be plentiful, and Johnson will be guaranteed the highest weekly workload of the team.

Johnson would likely be guaranteed a top running back finish by just replicating his late season stretch over a full campaign. He led all RBs in PPR scoring during the season’s final five weeks when starting, scoring 112 PPR points, 26 points above DeAngelo the next closest back. This puts Johnson on pace for 358 points for the season, over 40 points above Devonta’s position-leading 317 in 2015 and only below Cam, Antonio, and Julio for total points.

Now think: this offense was slightly hampered due to Carson’s injury. GM Keim has repeatedly emphasized how Johnson is “just scratching the surface.” This all suggests what was already a high fantasy ceiling for Johnson isn’t even fully realized yet. In fact, when asked if Johnson had a 2,000 yard season in him, Keim conceded solely rushing may be a stretch, but given his runner’s skillset, 2k total yards was definitely attainable.

As has been hinted at throughout this article, the era of workhorses is long gone, and consistently valuable fantasy runners are near impossible to find. While he was writing from a standard league lens, Michael Fabiano of NFL.com highlighted many convincing statistics from 2015 as evidence to this — only AP and Devonta finished with more than 200 standard league points; only 7 backs had 1,000 yards rushing; a whopping 18 QBs outscored the top-scoring RB in 2015 whereas the previous record had been 6.

Sure, this data suggests landing a true RB1 is near-impossible… but it also emphasizes what a massive edge hitting on one can be. David Johnson would provide elite, near Antonio-level points from a position where consistent, game-winning points are far more difficult to find. Everything about David Johnson’s profile suggests he’ll be a monstrous source of scoring, similar to Le’Veon and DeMarco from 2014. While the rest of your league is zigging away from the dark cloud 2015 left over RBs and cowering to the safe-haven of elite WR1s in Round 1, zag towards Johnson and gain the edge only he and maybe a healthy Le’Veon can offer as true PPR RB workhorses. There’s simply no position that offers more value than the every-down back in today’s PPR landscape.