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Ty Johnson: Priority Waiver Wire Pickup for Week 8 (Fantasy Football)

by John Ferguson | @FantasyFerguson | Featured Writer
Oct 22, 2019

Ty Johnson could look to take over a big workload with Kerryon Johnson injured.

We have been lucky so far in 2019 that we haven’t seen too many big-name running backs suffer devastating injuries. The waiver wires have been especially thin, but this week, we have a few names worth mentioning. Detroit Lions running back Ty Johnson should land near the top of your priority list this week as Kerryon Johnson was knocked out of last week’s game with a knee injury. Due to this, we decided to take a little bit of a deeper look at who Ty Johnson is, what his value looks like going forward, and how you should prioritize him on waivers this week, including what percentage of your FAAB budget you should drop.

*Editor’s Note: It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Kerryon Johnson will be placed on Injured Reserve.

Player Profile

Ty Johnson is a rookie out of Maryland who was selected in the sixth round of the draft. In college, Johnson was never really given a featured role and topped out at 137 carries in a season. Even though he wasn’t a workhorse, he still led the Terrapins in rushing in each of his last three years in college. His most impressive season came in his sophomore year where he recorded 1,004 yards on only 110 carries (9.1 YPA) adding an additional 206 yards receiving on only 16 receptions. He had seven total TDs that season and played alongside Panthers wideout D.J. Moore. Johnson also had a role on special teams as a kick returner, especially in his final two seasons in college.

Johnson is a mid-sized back coming in at 5’11” and 210 lbs. He showed excellent straight-line speed at the combine recording a 4.45-second 40-yard dash and this was his best trait as a prospect. He has the ability to run passed the secondary when given the lane but he wasn’t exactly known as an elusive runner or someone who would break a lot of tackles.

We have seen Johnson flash this speed to get to the edge, but he has yet to break off a big run at the NFL level. In the preseason he took 11 carries for just 42 yards (3.8 YPA), so we have yet to see his college efficiency translate to the next level. He had also only been given 17 touches so far this season before taking over last week and nearly doubled that mark, seeing 14 touches in Week 7.

State of the Offense

The Lions have had their moments this season but as far as their offense goes, this has definitely been a pass-first team. The Lions currently rank 21st in the league with 619 rushing yards as a team and only have two rushing touchdowns as well. They rank 13th in the league with 1,663 passing yards, so neither side of the offense has really been prolific, to say the least.


Kerryon Johnson’s injury details have been vague so far at the time of this writing, but what we do know is he is considered week-to-week and is expected to miss “some time” which hints at some sort of a sprain. In that case, a four-to-six week time frame is not uncommon for a return and considering Kerryon’s history of knee problems, you might want to lean towards expecting that sort of absence. Kerryon only managed to play 10 games (missing six) last season due to a knee sprain.

Kerryon leaves behind a pretty sizable snap share for however long he is sidelined having seen 68.4% of the Lions’ backfield snaps before getting hurt. He also ranked first among running backs with seven goal-line carries. He was the RB23 on the season according to our fantasy leaders tool through six weeks in full PPR leagues even though he was seen as somewhat of a disappointment in fantasy this season.

Ty Johnson could slide into some really attractive volume at the very least and saw ~64% of the snaps in Week 7. The biggest problem for Ty will be the presence of former Seahawk J.D. McKissic who is primarily known as an extremely capable pass catcher. It’s possible we see closer to a 60/40 snap share emerge here with Ty getting the majority of work, but it could also depend on game flow or even a hot hand situation.

The matchup in Week 8 alone makes you want to empty your pockets for Ty Johnson as the Lions will host the Giants who rank top-10 in most fantasy points allowed to running backs. The Giants just gave up a monster game to Chase Edmonds who totaled 150 yards from scrimmage and three TDs against them. Edmonds is the top add this week in my opinion if he isn’t already owned in your league (48% ownership on Yahoo) and Ty Johnson would rank second in priority and I would spend about 40%-50% of my FAAB budget on him in light of the latest injury news on Kerryon. McKissic is a sneaky pick if you have lower priority or less budget to work with and worth 10%-15% of your FAAB.

Ty Johnson boasts home run potential with his speed and can turn any run into a big one even though we haven’t seen it just yet. I could see some Matt Breida type of production from him. He should be able to maintain solid RB2 value against the Giants and be a volume-based Flex play at worst going forward even with less than ideal matchups against the Raiders who rank 24th in fantasy points allowed to running backs in Week 9 and the Bears who rank 14th in Week 10. Both of those matchups could be tougher than expected road games where we might see the run game abandoned a little. I would rank Johnson somewhere around the RB24 mark for as long as he’s the starter which is where Kerryon was living so far this season.

Running backs to consider dropping for Johnson based on our Rest of Season rankings:

  • Rex Burkhead (NE)
  • Jaylen Samuels (PIT)
  • Gus Edwards (BAL)
  • Raheem Mostert (SF)
  • Ito Smith (ATL)

More Advice
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Devante Parker Waiver Wire Pickup

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John Ferguson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from John, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyFerguson.

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