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Juwan Johnson: This Year’s Version Of Darren Waller Or A Waiver-Wire Dud?

Sep 13, 2021

We’ve got a breakout tight end available on the waiver wire in most leagues. Is it time for Darren Waller 2.0 watch? Not quite, but Juwan Johnson shined in Week 1, and fantasy managers must start paying attention. He finished Sunday as the TE4 with 15.6 points. 

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Player Profile

Johnson played wide receiver in college for Penn State and Oregon. In his rookie season (2020), Johnson played seven games, catching four of his 10 targets for 39 yards. He transitioned to tight end in the offseason.

In Week 1, Johnson caught all three of his targets for 21 yards and two touchdowns. He earned an impressive 86.4 grade from ProFootballFocus, too. 

Johnson fits the mold of Darren Waller in the sense that he’s listed as a “tight end” but can play from every receiver position on the field. Still, the comparison is a bit premature, as Waller is significantly faster than Johnson. Waller ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine; in contrast, Johnson ran the 40 in 4.58 seconds.

State of The Offense 

If there is a situation for an unheralded pass-catcher to succeed, it’s in New Orleans. Wide receivers and tight ends who recorded significant snaps on Sunday for the Saints include Marquez Callaway, Adam Trautman, Deonte Harris, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Garrett Griffin, Chris Hogan, and Johnson. The tight end has a prime opportunity to prove that he can rise above the competition and demand targets.

Jameis Winston played one of the best games of his career on Sunday, too, which is a great sign for Johnson managers. However, despite finishing as the TE4, Johnson played just 19 percent of the snaps. Trautman (82%) and Griffin (27%) both surpassed that number. 

Johnson’s Outlook

Johnson was extremely efficient and proved to the Saints’ coaching staff that he deserves more snaps. That said, adding Johnson on the waiver wire means that we’re betting on Sunday being his lowest snap count of the season by far. Finding fantasy success while playing on in fewer than 20 percent of snaps isn’t even remotely sustainable. 

However, that doesn’t mean Johnson needs to play 90 percent of the snaps to be successful, either. He is more of a pass-catcher than a blocker, and the fact that he’ll be running a route on almost all of his snaps helps make up for his lower snap percentage. 

I wouldn’t start Johnson right away unless I have to, but he is a worthy waiver-wire add with a remarkably high ceiling.

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TJ Horgan is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from TJ, check out his archive and follow him @tjhorgantv.

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