“Nine NFL running backs had at least 60 receptions last season, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say Kerryon Johnson will be a part of that group this fall.” – Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press
It’s a bold prediction, but is it impossible? It’s easy to forget that he racked up 32 catches in just 10 games over his rookie season, which put him at 51 catches if he were able to play all 16 games. Jumping from 51 to 60 isn’t far-fetched, assuming he’s the obvious choice to be the primary pass catcher out of the backfield.
Theo Reddick has generally filled that role over the past few seasons, and maybe he again fills it in ’19. Of course he was on the field for 14 games last season, getting 61 receptions for 384 yards, so it’s easy to envision that there could be enough opportunities for both running backs.
Kenny Golladay is emerging as a top receiver, but the team let Golden Tate walk in the offseason. Danny Amendola and Jermaine Kearse were imported as veteran options, but are we ready to depend on them at this stage of their career? The Lions did use the eighth overall selection on TE T.J. Hockenson, but rookie tight ends often take time to transition to the NFL.
Prior to the season Walter Football described Johnson’s receiving ability by saying:
Johnson was impressive as a receiver in 2017, showing some nice route-running and soft hands. He was a dangerous outlet receiver for Auburn and could be that in the NFL.
So we have the talent and the potential opportunity, creating a potentially perfect situation The fact that he also has only C.J. Anderson standing in his way in terms of getting significant carries and everything comes together for an ideal sleeper opportunity.
He’s currently carrying an average ADP of 37.3, so he’s being drafted as a low-end RB2. In a PPR format that’s a spot that makes sense, though it also isn’t a particularly “value” pick either (going just ahead of Sony Michel). If he falls any further than that it’s an easy selection, though he’s worth considering at this spot as well (just don’t consider him a must draft).
Sources – ESPN, Walter Football, Detroit Free Press, Fantasy Pros
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 preseason rankings: