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Fantasy Alert: Peter King Says David Johnson Can Be a Dominant RB with Kingsbury

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 19, 2019

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 15: David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball against the Oakland Raiders during an NFL preseason game at State Farm Stadium on August 15, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson was one of the NFL's most dominant offensive players in 2016, when he amassed 2,118 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns.

A season-ending wrist injury in 2017 and team-wide offensive struggles in 2018 have prevented Johnson from experiencing similar success since, but Peter King of NBC Sports wrote Monday that he believes Johnson "will still have a chance to be a dominant back," citing new head coach Kliff Kingsbury's scheme.

"He's going to be [Kyler] Murray's sidecar an awful lot," King wrote.

He continued: "In Kingsbury's last full season as Texas Tech coach, 2017, the Red Raiders threw it 551 times and ran it 459. So keep in mind that Kingsbury's last team for a full season at Tech averaged 35 rushes a game. Johnson will not go hungry, in the running or passing game."

King specifically cited a play during the Cardinals' Saturday training-camp session, when quick pre-snap motion from rookie wideout Andy Isabella distracted the defense and let Johnson leak out to the right for a big gain off a swing pass.

Johnson's target share took a noticeable dip from 2016 to 2018, his last two full seasons. His 120 targets under head coach Bruce Arians three years ago led to 80 receptions for 879 yards and four touchdowns. Last year, Johnson's numbers dipped to 76 targets (50 catches) for 446 yards and three scores. The 27-year-old's yards-per-carry average also fell from 4.2 to 3.6.

The Cardinals experienced much upheaval last year, which probably didn't help Johnson's cause.

The team moved from veteran Sam Bradford to rookie Josh Rosen in the fourth quarter of Week 3 against the Chicago Bears, and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired after a 45-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in mid-October.

Warren Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis provided insight into McCoy's play-calling and how it may have hindered Johnson:

Warren Sharp @SharpFootball

Cardinals OC Mike McCoy has a tendency to run his RBs too much behind C: •The NFL avg is 28.9% over the last 3 years •David Johnson has a 10% success rate on 1st down running behind C (1.8 YPC) •McCoy's run offenses ranked #32, #24 & #22 the last 3 yrs •Run rate visualized: https://t.co/mI4BwOAvOB

Arizona eventually finished last in points per game, and head coach (now Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator) Steve Wilks was fired after the season.

Now the Cardinals will go as far as Kingsbury and No. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray will take them, and signs are positive that Johnson will make a turnaround.

From a fantasy football perspective, team owners seem optimistic, where he has a 5.8 average draft position in 12-team, point-per-reception leagues, according to Fantasy Football Calculator.

Ultimately, Johnson has the potential to bounce back and at least come close to his 2016 form. At the very least, expect vast improvement from last season.