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David Johnson: Grief and Replacements

Life is cruel and unfair, especially if your name is David Johnson.

On Sunday, David Johnson suffered a wrist injury after he went up and caught a pass from Carson Palmer. But he stayed in the game initially, and fumbled on the next play. After that, he was pulled out and never came back in.

Later in the day, the Cardinals reported that Johnson’s wrist wasn’t broken, but most likely had ligament damage, which can require surgery. Today, it was announced that Johnson was having surgery, and will be out for two to three months. In fantasy terms, that means he’s out until Week 9 or beyond.

If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know that I love David Johnson. He went to the same college as me (shout out to UNI) and grew up in Iowa (just like me). I don’t have a favorite NFL team, but I do have a favorite player, and that’s DJ.

So, when I heard the news of his injury, I was pretty upset (partially because I have him in two of my leagues). But, more importantly, I was upset because I love watching Johnson play, and I love watching him dominate every week. After just recovering and coming back from a leg injury, he returns only to fracture his wrist? That’s not fair.

As you could expect, I began the grieving process. I was in denial, thinking that it couldn’t be true, and he couldn’t be out for that long. He’s superhuman, he can heal quicker than that!

After that, came anger. I cursed Carson Palmer for throwing it to him, and the Lions players that tackled Johnson. I yelled at the fantasy gods for not warning me not to draft him.

Next, I tried to bargain. I sent trade offers (in my head) to see what I could get for him. Then, I thought better of it because I love DJ and can’t trade him away.

Then, I entered depression. With sadness, I took him out of my starting lineup and put in a scrub.

Finally, I accepted it and began to figure out how to replace him. Contrary to that dramatic experience you just read, that’s what this post is about: how to replace David Johnson.

Let’s start by stating that no one can truly replace DJ. He’s one-of-a-kind. But you still need to find another RB to take his place while he’s out, and that’s no easy task when you’re in a 10 or 12-man league. That’s why many people are looking to the waiver wire for help.

To help you out, here are a few options on the waiver wire that could help you replace DJ.

Tarik Cohen, RB – Bears

Cohen came out of nowhere on Sunday. He played 28 snaps and had 13 touches, along with 12 targets. The Bears lost WR Kevin White, and are desperate for anyone that can catch footballs. Enter Cohen. He’s definitely a risk, considering Jordan Howard is the clear starter, but Howard lacks the pass-catching ability that Cohen has, making Cohen a valuable option for the Bears. It’s unclear how they’ll use him the rest of the season, but he’s a good short-term replacement for DJ.

Chris Carson, RB – Seahawks

Much like last year, the Seahawks RB situation is a mess. There are four running backs battling for touches: Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise, and Chris Carson. Carson has looked really good so far, and played ahead of Lacy. With Rawls most likely playing Week 2, Carson’s usage is a mystery, but he’s shown to be reliable. Rawls is almost always hurt, so Carson may get the start sooner rather than layer. He’s not someone you can plug in right away, but he could be valuable in a few weeks.

James White, RB – Patriots

While Mike Gillislee seems to be the Patriots’ goal-line back, James White looks like the yardage back. He led the backfield in snaps and had 13 touches (including six touches in the red zone). He’s a great PPR option, and is a decent fill-in for DJ owners.

Cardinals Backup RBs

The easy option to replace DJ is to pick up the next RB in line for the Cardinals. However, it looks like the Cardinals are forming a RBBC in Johnson’s absence. Kerwynn Williams, Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson (who they just re-signed), and DJ Foster will all be competing for touches, and it’s unclear who will be favored. If I had to choose, I would pick Williams, simply because he seems like he’ll get the goal-line work.

Buck Allen, RB - Ravens

With Danny Woodhead already injured, Buck Allen has taken an immediate role in the Ravens offense. On Sunday, he had more carries and played more snaps than starter Terrance West, and looks like he’ll take over Woodhead’s pass-catching role. West is still going to be the starter, but Allen is going to be a prominent feature going forward.

Trade Possibilities

It's also worth mentioning trade possibilities here. Packaging DJ with another player (or keeping DJ and trading away other players) and trying to get another RB isn't a bad idea, depending on who you can trade for. Some worthy trade targets that you could get at a reasonable price include: Doug Martin, Jordan Howard, C.J. Anderson, Terrance West, Rob Kelley, Ameer Abdullah, Jonathan Stewart, Ty Montgomery, Frank Gore, or Mark Ingram.

While none of these options are great, it’s the best out there at the moment. No one can replace DJ except for DJ, but as fantasy owners, we have to move on and keep playing until DJ is resurrected towards the end of the year. Hopefully, DJ comes back stronger than ever, and helps us win the championship.

Who are you replacing David Johnson with? Let me know in the comments.

While you’re here, make sure you check out our podcast, waiver wire picks, and weekly rankings!

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