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Fantasy football implications of David Johnson joining Houston Texans

We break down the potential fantasy impact of Texans players after the David Johnson trade.

Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams on December 29, 2019, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Houston Texans unexpectedly traded DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals this week in exchange for David Johnson, and that move will have a significant impact on their success in 2020. Hopkins has been quarterback Deshaun Watson’s top weapon since he was drafted in 2017 and placed in the top 10 among fantasy football wideouts. Houston has some major changes coming. We’ll take a look at the Texans’ fantasy players for the 2020 season.

David Johnson

The Cardinals had high expectations for Johnson in 2019, but the running back fell short of them and lost his job to Kenyan Drake halfway through the year. He ran for 345 yards and notched 370 receiving yards, accounting for six total touchdowns. This was good enough to help him crack the top 40 for fantasy football running backs last season by a couple of spots, but that’s far from the top 10 status he held in 2018 after bouncing back from missing almost all of 2017 because of a broken wrist.

Johnson has shown tremendous potential, as he was the NFL’s most productive fantasy running back in 2016, when he tallied 1,239 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards for 20 total touchdowns. But how will he adjust to a new system?

Carlos Hyde had success in Houston’s backfield last season and recorded his for 1,000 yards season on 245 carries. But he was hardly a factor in the passing game. Duke Johnson, on the other hand, totaled 410 receiving yards last season. The potential is there for Houston to utilize all of Johnson’s talents and it will hopefully try to considering what it gave up to get him. Johnson being just inside the top 20 is a possibility, and he could flirt with the top 10 again with enough touches and proper health. Theres a wide range of possibilities here, and it will depend in part on what the Texans do with Hyde hitting free agency.

Duke Johnson

Johnson was inside the top 40 last season at his position and recorded 410 rushing yards and 410 receiving yards. He rushed for two scores and caught three touchdowns passes. While it seems like he could take a back seat to the other Johnson, he’s s sleeper you should keep an eye on. If Houston’s latest import doesn’t fill the mold the team wants him to, Duke could see a jump in production and hover around the top 20 like he did in 2017. At this point, he’s a waiver wire target that’ll probably be worth acquiring at some point in 2020 because of the Texans’ lack of depth.

Deshaun Watson

Watson has been a top five fantasy quarterback for the past two years, but it’s not likely that he’ll keep that streak going. He lost his co-star in Hopkins, and that could cause a major drop in value. Over 30% of Watson’s throws, completions, and yards have gone to Hopkins since 2017. In 2018 Hopkins accounted for more than 42% of Watson’s touchdown passes. While Watson might not fall off a cliff from a production standpoint, he’s not a player you should feel comfortable taking as one of the top few quarterbacks.

Watson tied a career-high 26 touchdown passes in 2019 and set a new personal best with seven rushing touchdowns. He still has a respectable receiving crops with Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, and Randall Cobb, but not having a go-to guy will affect him — especially since Hopkins is durable and has missed two games in seven years.

Watson could surprise us and show that he doesn’t need an elite receiver to put up bug-time numbers, but he could drop outside the top 10. His receiving corps needs to stay heathy to give him a chance to stay in the top 10.

Will Fuller, Randall Cobb, Kenny Stills

Will Fuller hung around the 50 mark for wide receivers last season, but he could be so much more with a clean bill of health. The wideout has missed 22 games in four years. His 4.3 speed makes him a lethal deep threat, and he could become Houston’s top receiver next season. If he does, he could crack the top 20.

Cobb signed a three-year deal with the Texans after a strong 2019 with the Dallas Cowboys and will be behind Fuller on the depth chart. He hasn’t flashed star potential since 2014, when he was a top 10 fantasy receiver. There’s a void that needs to be filled, but his ceiling is a little lower than Fuller’s.

Stills made his mark after being traded by the Miami Dolphins early last season and will compete with Cobb for work. The value of both Stills and Cobb will depend on Fuller’s health and if the team makes a move in what is a deep draft class of wide receivers.